Friday, June 13, 2008


I spent several days in Vancouver for the premier of a friend’s film titled “Up the Yangtze” which has been held over in every major city in Canada. The thirst of the audience across North America has surpassed the numbers attending any Canadian Documentary Theatrical release. All these people want to see the largest dam in the world at the head of the Yangtze River, in China.

Then I attended the ‘Building Green’ conference in Courtenay where I spoke to one of the keynote speakers, who is a highly respected engineer. He told me that the largest man made dam in the world is actually in northern Alberta, around Fort McMurray. This massive structure was built to hold back the toxic waste tailings from the processing of the tar sands. A massive reservoir continues to grow because the extraction process destroys between 2 to 6 barrels of water for every barrel of raw oil. This water becomes toxic and is being stored along the Athabasca River behind an ever-growing dike constructed from rock, sand, and gravel.

An ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude is allowing the Canadian public to buy into the economic boom that is being heralded as a great success. The processing of oil from tar sands is the most inefficient way to produce energy in the world.

A newly released book by bestselling investigative journalist William Marsden is dedicated to Alberta’s Energy Industry and is titled: ‘Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn't Seem to Care)’ The author stated; "They're going to be the architects of their own destruction." One scene describes fishermen along the Athabasca River, downstream from the tar sands, who had complained that all the fish tasted like gasoline but then the fish began to disappear.

Canada cannot sign any international environmental agreements while the extraction of the tar sands continues. We can’t have both, its one or the other. The Harper government has made its choice and if firmly behind the oil companies. The public has very little information about this catastrophic environmental degradation being perpetrated in the of interest profits.

The Boreal forest, one of largest in the world, is being destroyed at a horrific pace to make way for open pit mines to extract the tar sands. The forest that is being leveled and scraped away has been scientifically proven to form the weather patterns that affect much of eastern Canada. While some of the wood is being used for pulp and other purposes much of the forest is simply being leveled to make way for massive machinery, which scrapes the earth away to extract the tar sands.

In British Columbia Gordon Campbell’s Liberal continues to work towards lifting a long-term federal ban on offshore oil exploration. On Vancouver Island they continue to replace hydro electric with gas burning energy sources, both of which come from the area around Fort St. John. The BC government is also increase the amount of coal burning in this province with surplus energy destined for the USA market.

Yet, the spin-doctors for the federal Conservatives and provincial Liberals continue to claim that they are going green. Ignoring scientific evidence by advocating economic prosperity at the expense of the environment. These political parties would have the public believe that they are fighting global warming, combating climate change, protecting clean water, and working towards a sustainable future. What is actually being done?

Ask questions of your provincial and federal elected representatives and let the Prime Minister know you have concerns about the reality of claims that the government of Canada is working to protect the environment.