October 2010 Archives
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Yes, it is:
Here's my new Sun column about the murderer Omar Khadr:
It’s all true. Omar Khadr admits to being a murderer, a terrorist, a spy and an al-Qaida member.
Monday, he confessed this to a U.S. war crimes court, also confessing he was motivated to kill Americans and Jews.
Khadr murdered U.S. army medic Christopher Speer. Speer’s widow, Tabitha, sat in court Monday weeping, comforted by her sister.
Her name almost never appears in the love letters to Khadr published in Canada as “news reports.”
Khadr tried to kill Sgt. Layne Morris, too. He was blinded in one eye. Morris was also in court. I bet you haven’t heard his name before. I bet you won’t read it again.
Because Tabitha Speer and Layne Morris interfere with the mainstream media’s project of turning Khadr into a Muslim saint.
The twin headquarters of Khadr’s fanclub are the Canadian Bar Association and the CBC. According to its website, the CBC has produced 1,700 stories about Khadr. The Dalai Lama only gets 1,550 and Nelson Mandela, 1,070. Unlike Khadr, they’re not useful in undermining the legitimacy of the war on terror, including the Canadian Forces and CSIS.
And lobbying for Khadr has been the Canadian Bar Association’s highest political priority. The CBA remained only secret admirers of Khadr for the first four years of his incarceration, because that’s when the prime minister and justice minister were Liberals.
The CBA could only gaze at the picture of Khadr in their locker, doodling his name in their diaries. What a relief when the Conservatives took office, and their love for Khadr could be sung from the mountaintops, in over 100 public statements.
Khadr will return the favour to the profession. The Jew-hating murderer has filed a $10-million lawsuit against the Canadian government. That’s a lot of fees for a lot of lawyers.
There are too many Khadr fans to list. But Judy Rebick’s blog entry from this summer is outstanding. Change the name “Omar Khadr” to “Justin Bieber,” and it could have been ripped from an issue of Teen Beat. “My heart aches for Omar Khadr,” wrote Rebick, comparing him to Mandela, and lauding his “courage and dignity.”
A CBC commentator and former NDP candidate, Rebick once led Canada’s state-funded women’s lobby. How a Jewish feminist could have a crush on an anti-Semitic, misogynist murderer is baffling. When hostages sympathize with their captors, psychologists call it Stockholm Syndrome. What’s Rebick’s excuse?
Reportedly, Khadr has struck a plea bargain with the Obama administration for an eight-year prison term — one year in U.S. jails; the rest in Canada. But anyone who knows Canada’s liberal parole laws knows he’ll get out immediately. Our “statutory release” policy requires offenders serve the final third of their sentence “in the community.” But Khadr won’t stay in even that long.
Canada gives criminals credit for time in custody before trial. The eight years he has been in Guantanamo Bay means he’ll be out by next Christmas.
He’ll be busy: Hitting the campus lecture circuit; strategizing against CSIS with his lawyers; maybe driving slowly by Jewish synagogues and schools.
He’ll become a CBC pundit. Maybe a star candidate for the NDP.
It’s certain he’ll be the first murderer nominated for the Order of Canada. It’s less certain that nomination will be denied.
Here's my new Sun column about Chinese overseas investment in Zambia -- and Canada.
Great Britain decolonized the African country of Zambia in the mid-20th century. China has recolonized it in the early 21st.
The story is the same throughout the Third World from Sudan to Kazakhstan: China invests in a poor country in return for strategic benefits, usually an oilfield or a mine. Besides getting cash, local dictators get a weapons dealer and a protector at the United Nations.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and China is filling the one left by the global retreat of the West and Russia.
Two weeks ago, Zambian workers at a Chinese-owned coal mine protested their poor pay and working conditions.
The mine’s Chinese executives evidently thought the hungry miners needed more lead in their diet since they took out their guns and shot 11 of them.
The Chinese government’s first response was to say its managers “mistakenly hurt” the miners. That didn’t wash, so now it has very generously directed their coal company to pay the medical bills for the men they shot.
In return, China has insisted that those who “incited the riots” be brought to justice. Just to be clear, it means the miners.China has invested
$400 million in Zambia. This spring, China paid $4.6 billion to buy a 9% stake in the Canadian company Syncrude. And that follows billions more invested in other oilsands companies in 2009.
Big Chinese investments in Canada’s strategic oilsands would have been unlikely five years ago. Under George W. Bush, the United States would have used diplomatic pressure to keep China out of its sphere of influence.
But Barack Obama isn’t big on concepts like the American national interest. He’s more interested in subsidizing electric cars than securing Canada’s 170 billion barrels of oil reserves.
Sensing no pushback, more Chinese investment is sure to come. China is sitting on $2.65 trillion in foreign currency reserves, and as Obama racks up the largest deficits in U.S. history, China is nervous about buying more U.S. treasury bills.
The oilsands are an attractive alternative: A long-term strategic investment in a stable country that just happens to be in America’s backyard. It’s not unthinkable that China would invest $100 billion here.
Is this good or bad for Canada? Both.
It would be nice to get some Chinese money for a change. There’s a myth that Canada-China trade is important. But it’s a one-way street.We buy $40 billion worth of their goods a year, but they only buy $11 billion from us, mainly raw materials. That’s just 2% of our exports, less than what the U.K. buys from us. By comparison, CSIS estimates that China steals
$12 billion a year from us through industrial espionage.
Selling oilsands companies to China isn’t about their right to buy, it’s about Canadian businessmen’s right to sell. And if Finance Minister Jim Flaherty can sell government debt to China, why can’t Joe Oilman sell his shares?
We have to be on guard for the Emirates Airlines problem, of course. When a foreign government poses as a company, it can become a bullies if it doesn’t like Canadian corporate regulations.
Emirates Airlines’ owner, the government of the United Arab Emirates, kicked Canada out of an airbase there when we wouldn’t grant them more landing slots. United Airlines couldn’t do that, because they’re not part of a sovereign state.
It’s inconceivable that Chinese owners would shoot Canadian workers. But it’s not inconceivable that China would respond to regulatory rulings it didn’t like by banning imports of Canadian beef or wheat.
We’ll need to be on guard for that. But for now, the advantages clearly outweigh that risk. With blowhards like U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi disparaging our oil, it’s nice to know we have other, eager investors.
We should fast-track the proposed pipeline to the West Coast, too, so we can sell the oil itself to Asia. We’ve only got two years to build it, before a new, more attentive U.S. president is elected.
Thursday, October 28, Calgary
Fraser Institute reception and dinner, Centini, 5:30 p.m. Details here.
Saturday, October 30, Ottawa
7 p.m. Crowne Plaza Hotel, tribute dinner with Mark Steyn (non-book tour event). Details here.
Sunday, November 7, Calgary
11 a.m. Pages at the Plaza, The Plaza Theatre (debate with Andrew Nikiforuk). Details here.
Saturday, November 13, Ottawa
Free Thinking Festival, 4 p.m. Library & Archives Canada (debate with Elizabeth May). Details here.
Tuesday, November 16, Calgary
Mount Royal University, 12 noon, details to come
Thursday, November 18, Calgary
Fraser Institute reception and dinner, Sassafraz restaurant, 5:30 p.m. Details here.
Wednesday, December 1, Ottawa
Fraser Institute reception and dinner, Rideau Club, 5:30 p.m. Details here.
Thursday, December 2, Winnipeg
Frontier Centre lunch, 12 noon. Details to come here.
Friday, December 3, Calgary
Frontier Centre breakfast. Details to come here.
So the world’s dictators voted against us at the United Nations last week when we ran for a seat at the Security Council. Who cares?
What we should care about is that the United States didn’t lift a finger to help us.
After the vote, Philip Crowley, the U.S. State Department spokesman, was asked literally six times about America’s lack of support for Canada. Crowley laughed it off, joking “I’m still remembering the Sidney Crosby goal” — a reference to Canada beating Team USA in hockey at the Olympics.
That lame joke let him get out of one of the questions. But his evasions the other five times were so obvious, at one point a reporter actually told him he was blushing.
What did we do to earn this passionate indifference from our closest friend?
No other nation has shed proportionately as much blood in Afghanistan as we have, not even the magnificent British. Is there a more reliable friend, ally or generous trading partner than us? Have we not opened up our oil pipelines to them? Did we not go along with their foolish bailout of General Motors?
What more did we have to do for a mere vote?
So much for U.S. President Barack Obama’s allegiance. What about his own national interest? Would it not be to his advantage to have us on the Security Council with him, instead of a deeply indebted, socialist European country (but I repeat myself)? Portugal has a population smaller than Ontario’s and an economy smaller than Alberta’s.
True, Portugal has sent a token force to Afghanistan, maxing out at 250 soldiers. And two of them have been killed. Canada has 10 times as many soldiers and has suffered 75 times more casualties, because we’re actually doing the fighting.
America wasn’t the only ally to abandon us lately. So did the United Arab Emirates, better known for its metropolis of Dubai.
Canada had been using an air force base there as a transport hub for going in and out of Afghanistan. Our presence helps keep Dubai safe, too: The same radicals we’re fighting in Afghanistan would love to destroy Dubai, an island of liberal modernity in a sea of backwardness.
But in a fit of pique, Dubai kicked us out — and even denied our defence minister, Peter MacKay, the right to land there.
Dubai’s decadent royal family owns two airlines, called Emirates and Etihad. They both receive enormous subsidies from the government that they use to undermine the world’s private airlines.
The UAE was demanding more landing slots in Canada, so as to take away business from Air Canada, just like they’ve gutted Australia’s airline industry.
It’s one thing if a foreign company wants to sell Canadians cheap seats. But what if a foreign government does so, for the strategic purpose of bankrupting its competitors?
Canada resisted, so the UAE threw a tantrum. But they’re actually putting Canadian lives in danger.
Well, two can play the airspace game. Emirates flights to Los Angeles fly over Canadian airspace. That privilege should be revoked immediately.
There’s not a lot we can do when our best friend, the United States, slaps us around.
But when a conniving desert sheik does so, our national self respect demands we slap back.
Court decision puts veil over women's rights
It is illegal for a woman wearing a face-obscuring veil to board a plane in Canada. But a unanimous ruling last week by the Ontario Court of Appeal says it’s just fine for that same woman to give testimony in court with her face covered.
There’s more. Ontario’s highest court says veiled women can ask for an order to clear men out of the courtroom — any men in the public gallery, any male court staff, even her opponent’s lawyer, even the judge himself — in return for taking off her veil. It’s paragraph 85 of the ruling.
Shariah law has come to Canada.
Face-obliterating veils called niqabs are a medieval tool for gender apartheid. They destroy a woman’s identity. They turn her into an object, a chattel owned by her master — which is why they’re the norm in Saudi Arabia, where women have fewer rights than men and only slightly more than animals.
Burkas — an even more prison-like shroud, with just a tiny beekeeper’s screen to peek through — are the Taliban variety. Those are now allowed on the witness stand in Canada, too.
Rip the Ten Commandments off the wall, because we must have separation of church and state. But when the most un-Canadian expression of radical Islam walks in the court, our judges follow the Qur’an.
But that’s not fair to the Qur’an. No verse in that book requires face-covering. But our judges now say it’s a Charter right.
To their shame, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened to support this. They have demanded Bibles be removed from schools and the Lord’s Prayer be banned from legislatures. But Muslim veils — a chastity belt for the face — have their support in a secular court.
The CCLA has found religion. And LEAF, the feminist law organization built with Canadian tax dollars, has a new view on a woman’s proper place. They argued for the niqab, too.
As National Post columnist Barbara Kay points out, a survey of Muslim women in France found 77% wear the veil out of fear of men.
Australian Imam Taj Din al-Hilali put it another way, in a sermon about rape: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street ... and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”
LEAF supports covering up “the meat.” Now our courts do too.
The Ontario ruling came about because a Muslim woman alleged she was molested as a child by her uncle and her cousin in the 1980s. It’s a horrendous accusation and, if true, the woman deserves our sympathy and the accused deserve our most punitive punishment. But before we get there, there’s the matter of a trial.
In Canada, even accused rapists have the right to question their accuser and the court has the right to observe her demeanour. It’s why we don’t allow testimony from someone wearing a mask.
But this accuser didn’t want to take off her mask.
“It’s a respect issue, one of modesty and one of — in Islam, we call honour,” she told the judge at the preliminary inquiry “It’s to conceal the beauty of a woman.”
She had only been wearing a veil for about five years and the judge found her religious belief was “not that strong.” But “I would feel a lot more comfortable if I didn’t have to, you know, reveal my face.”
Sure, she took the veil off to get her driver’s licence. But that was important, you see. Not like accusing a man of a horrendous crime.
The judge told her to take off her veil. That’s what was over-ruled last week.
This could be great, says the Court of Appeal. The reliability of her veiled testimony could actually be better.
“Without the niqab ... one could not expect her to be herself on the witness stand ... her embarrassment and discomfort could be misinterpreted as uncertainty and unreliability.”
But it’s more than law. It’s politics, they say. Allowing the niqab “could be seen as a recognition and acceptance of those minority beliefs and practices.”
That’s exactly the problem.
In heaven, Aqsa Parvez is screaming again.
There's something unseemly about a U.S. government appointee flying north (using Saudi jet fuel) to interfere in a Canadian regulatory proceeding. It's unthinkable that a Canadian political hack would fly down to the U.S. to mouth off on some domestic matter there. But that's exactly what media whore James Hansen of NASA did last week at an Alberta oilsands hearing. Funny, though; neither Hansen nor Obama has much to say about China's massive carbon dioxide emissions. I wonder if that's political correctness, ignorance, or just simple obedience to the country that owns a trillion dollars in U.S. debt?
Here's my column. I'd love your feedback.
Facts oiled up
James Hansen, the head of one of President Barack Obama’s NASA labs, came to Canada last week to tell us not to allow a French company called Total to proceed with its Canadian oilsands project.
Even for Obama, that’s quite a foreign policy accomplishment: Interfering with two allies at once.
NASA used to be about exploring space — that’s what the S stands for. But NASA’s new boss, Charles Bolden, recently told Al Jazeera TV that Obama has given him new marching orders: Inspire children to learn math, expand international relationships. “Perhaps foremost. he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.”
I guess that’s what happens when a “community organizer” becomes president.
But when you think about it, Hansen is following Obama’s instructions perfectly: The Saudis probably do “feel good” that NASA is trying to shut down their Canadian oil competitors.
Total is proposing to invest between $15 billion and
$20 billion in Canada over the next 10 years, creating 1,300 jobs. Total’s not just producing the oil, they’re going to upgrade it in Canada, too, adding value for export.
Hansen is upset that the Total mine will emit 1.5 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide a year. Anything with the word “mega” in it sounds big. But that works out to just 0.0038% of the world’s fossil fuel emissions.
If carbon dioxide is your worry — and Hansen says it’s his — then coal should be your focus. It emits twice the carbon dioxide than petroleum products to create the same energy.
Hansen can start in his own backyard. Take the Miller coal-fired power station in Quinton, Ala. That one power plant emits more than 20 Mt of carbon dioxide a year. One plant. The Scherer coal-fired power plant in Juliette, Georgia is even bigger. It emits more than 25 Mt a year.
But those plants are just babies compared to what China is doing. China has plenty of power plants bigger than Scherer. There’s one in Tuen Mun at a whopping 35.8 Mt. And Taiwan has one that tops 41 Mt.
The oilsands — all of them combined? Barely 30 Mt.
Individual Chinese power plants have higher carbon emissions than Canada’s 100 different oilsands companies put together.
But Hansen hasn’t flown to China with his protest.
In 2008, Hansen said CEOs of fossil energy companies should be put on trial for “crimes against humanity.” Try saying that in China and you’ll get the Tiananmen Square treatment.
Hansen doesn’t even criticize China from the safety of the United States. In a laughable essay he wrote this spring for the liberal Huffington Post, Hansen says he believes China wants to “avoid the fossil fuel addiction of the United States. They want to clean up their atmosphere and water.”
Avoid fossil fuels? Last year Chinese auto sales hit 13.64 million, more than the U.S. for the first time. The number of cars on the road in China is expected to double to 200 million in less than 10 years. Clean up their atmosphere? The World Bank says that 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in China.
But Hansen and NASA and Obama don’t criticize China. China is the largest owner of U.S. treasury bills.
When you owe someone a trillion dollars, you don’t call them “polluter.”
You call them “boss.”
Here's my column from Sunday's Sun newspapers. I wanted to talk about Geert Wilders, but I kept going back a bit, and then a bit more, to explain why Wilders is so important. I thought Pim Fortuyn was a good place to start.
So much about radical Islam is linked to sex -- burkas and gender apartheid; honour killings; female genital mutilation; virgins as bounty for suicide bombers; etc. Radical Islam is particularly disconcerted by homosexuality. This is a test for Western liberals: do they value sexual equality for gays more than they are afraid of being politically incorrect towards Muslim immigrants? So far, the answer is an embarrassing "no".
Here's the column -- what do you think?
Gay-bashers thrive in modern-day Netherlands
If you think Amsterdam is the gay capital of Europe, you’re half-right, but 10 years out of date. Today it’s the gay-bashing capital of Europe.
Because Amsterdam isn’t just gay. Now it’s Muslim, too. A million Moroccans and Turks have immigrated to the Netherlands, and sharia law rules the streets.
If you doubt it, then you haven’t been paying attention. Actually, that’s not fair. Gay-bashing is front-page news only when it’s committed by a straight, white male.
The media is terribly uncomfortable writing about gay-bashing by minorities. It’s the same reason why Canadian feminists are so eerily quiet about honour killings of Muslim girls.
According to an “offender study” by the University of Amsterdam, there were 201 reports of anti-gay violence in that city in 2007 — and researchers believe for every reported case there are as many as 25 unreported ones. Two thirds of the predators are Muslim youths.
The violence couldn’t be more brazen. It’s not in the back alleys in the dark, it’s in the heart of the city, often in broad daylight. It’s a direct dare to the Dutch government to show who rules the streets.
In 2008, 10 Muslim youths broke into a fashion show, dragged gay model Michael du Pree off the stage and beat him bloody. Last month, several lesbians were hit by beer bottles thrown at their heads as they marched in a parade of thousands to protest violence against gays. There’s a gay community centre in Amsterdam — you’d think that would be safe. Wrong. It’s a target, with home-invasion style beatings. No one is immune. Last year Hugo Braakhuis, the founder of Amdsterdam’s gay pride parade, was attacked.
In 2005, Chris Crain, former editor of America’s leading gay magazine, Washington Blade, was swarmed by seven Moroccan youths. “I was really surprised,” Crain told reporters at the time. “I felt comfortable because it is San Francisco times 10.” Or it used to be.
This didn’t happen all at once. Ten years ago Pim Fortuyn rang the alarm. “I don’t hate Islam,” he said. “I consider it a backward culture.”
He wanted to halt Muslim immigration, at least until those in the country accepted Holland’s liberal values, such as its acceptance of him as an openly gay political leader. “How wonderful that that’s possible. And I’d like to keep it that way.”
Fortuyn was a Marxist professor, a champion of gay rights, women’s rights, liberal drug laws and euthanasia. Yet, because he opposed Muslim immigration, the CBC called him “right wing.”
Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002 by a leftist radical opposed to his views on Islam.
Next came Theo van Gogh, a descendant of artist Vincent van Gogh. He made a movie about Islam’s treatment of women, called Submission.
A 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri shot him eight times and tried to cut his head off. Then Bouyeri stabbed a knife into van Gogh’s chest with a letter threatening Western governments, Jews, and van Gogh’s collaborator, a liberal Muslim named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Hirsi Ali was placed under police protection, until a judge ordered her out of her safe house. She now lives in the United States. Fortuyn, van Gogh and Hirsi Ali are gone from Holland, but the Moroccans and Turks aren’t.
Now comes Geert Wilders. Wilders is the leader of the Party for Freedom, the third-most popular party in Holland. The party joined the new government coalition in return for immigration cuts and a ban on burkas, the face-covering shrouds worn by some Muslim women.
His ideas are mainstream enough to become government policy. But this week, Wilders stood trial for “hate crimes” for those very same ideas.
Prosecutors say it’s a crime to compare the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as Wilders has done, and that he has caused too much of the human emotion called hate.
Mohamed Rabbae supports the prosecution. He’s the chairman of the National Moroccan Council. He wants a judge to order Wilders to apologize. “We are for correcting him,” he said.
Rabbae is for a coerced apology and forced political re-education. And the Associated Press calls Rabbae a moderate.
These days, in Holland, unfortunately that’s true.
Here's Mel Wilde's friendly review of Ethical Oil in British Columbia's Lake Country Calendar. Some excerpts:
...Ezra Levant, Canada’s free speech warrior takes on the militants of both the environmental movement and the manipulated media in his latest book, Ethical Oil, the case for Canada’s oil sands.
Levant tells how organizations such as Greenpeace along with the Sierra club and other militant environmentalists have gotten away with the most vitriolic attacks against the existence of Alberta’s oil sands—all with the help of big media.
Levant points out in his book how one sided the debate about the oil sands has been.
...My conclusion, after reading Ezra’s book is that the militants attack Canada, and in particular Alberta’s oil sands, because they can. The fact is, we live in a free and peaceful society and the militants take great advantage of that reality.
Why let Galloway in?
It is easy to write off George Galloway, the former U.K. politician who flew to Canada over the weekend, as a clown.
Most people in his own country know him for his bizarre appearance on the reality TV show Big Brother, where Galloway and other C-list celebrities lived together in a house.
Prancing around in a pink, full-body unitard was strange enough. But one night Galloway decided he was a house cat. He got down on all fours and pretended to drink milk from the hands of another aging star, who petted him and pretended to stroke his whiskers. Google it: Galloway and cat. It’s funny-creepy.
But clowns can be scary, too.
“I personally am about to break the sanctions,” he declared at a Gaza press conference he held with terrorist group Hamas. “We carried a lot of cash here … and we make no apology.”
On live TV, he handed wads of cash to Ismail Haniyeh, the senior political leader of Hamas.
“This is not charity,” he clarified. “This is politics.”
And if anyone wondered what the money was for, Galloway was clear on that, too. Referring to the Jews, he said “we can drive them away.”
Galloway says he’s just a supporter of the people of Gaza. “I am not a supporter of Hamas, but I am a supporter of democracy.”
Galloway lives for attention. As a newly elected MP, he boasted that at a poverty conference in Mykonos, “I actually had sexual intercourse with some of the people in Greece.”
He proceeded to do the same to his own leader, Tony Blair, over the war in Iraq, and was expelled from the Labour Party. He was suspended from Parliament for abusing taxpayer funds to promote a pro-Iraq charity he created.
That charity was later found to have received large donations diverted from Saddam Hussein’s oil-for-food program, though Galloway denies he knew the source of the money.
It was inevitable a one-man show like Galloway would soon start a one-man party, ironically called Respect. But soon voters tired of his Jew-baiting and general nuttiness, and he was turfed this spring.
Galloway thrives on attention. He’ll do anything to get it, whether it’s pretending to be a cat, or flying to Iraq to tell Saddam Hussein, “sir, I salute your courage.”
He doesn’t have the British Parliament to play around with anymore.
Which is why he’s here.
In Canada, we allow odious opinions — it’s one of the things that distinguishes our society from Saddam’s prison nation.
But we have a rule against actually helping terrorists. Section 37 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says helping terrorists anywhere in the world makes you ineligible for entry into Canada. And Galloway personally handed Hamas tens of thousands of dollars, stating it wasn’t for charity.
In March of 2009, Galloway was warned if he tried to enter Canada, he might be kept out. He didn’t try to enter, but sued Canada.
Last week, Galloway’s suit was thrown out, since the government hadn’t actually stopped him.
Galloway flew to Canada over the weekend. And border security waved him through with a smile.
Galloway’s odious political views aren’t illegal. But fundraising for Hamas is.
So why was Galloway, bankroller of Hamas, let in?
It’s a question Stephen Rigby, the dozing head of Canadian Border Services Agency, must be called on by Parliament to answer.
Last Tuesday, CBC’s The National broadcast a report about an anti-oilsands propaganda campaign in London, England. Reporter Susan Ormiston visited what she called a “bold new photo exhibit” portraying the oilsands in a deliberately unflattering light.
She showed visitors moaning about how awful Canada is, and sound-bites from the photographer and activists who organized the exhibit. That’s a lot of critics — six, including the moaners — so it’s easy to understand why Ormiston had just 19 seconds in her more than three-minute segment to quote someone with a pro-Canada point of view.
One of the critics the CBC interviewed was Colin Baines. Baines works for The Co-operative Bank, whose entire brand is based on being morally superior.
As an ethical firm, Baines told the CBC: “We will not invest our customers’ money in unconventional fossil fuels such as the tarsands. Something like 98% of our customers, an overwhelming majority, don’t want us to touch this stuff.”
Ormiston noted that The Co-op Bank is funding an Aboriginal lawsuit to shut down the oilsands.
So far, so boring — the CBC bashing Alberta isn’t exactly new, and finding snobby Europeans to criticize Canada, whether it’s the seal hunt or oilsands, isn’t hard either.
But there’s one thing about Baines’ claim: It’s not true.
Oh, it’s true that Baines and his bank disparage the oilsands. It’s true they’re funding a lawsuit that, if successful, could throw tens of thousands of Canadians out of work — including a disproportionate number of Aboriginals. But what’s not entirely true is Baines’ claim his company doesn’t invest in the oilsands.
The truth is an arm of Baines’ company, Co-operative Financial Services, owns tens of millions of dollars of oilsands shares. They love it. They can’t get enough of it. They just forgot to mention it at their bold new exhibit.
Take one of Co-op Financial’s investment funds, called U.S. Growth Trust.
Their July 2010 term sheet shows the fund’s second-largest holding is ExxonMobil. Exxon and its affiliate, Imperial Oil, are amongst the biggest oilsands operators, with plans for future growth, too. In that one fund alone, The Co-op owns $5.7 million in Exxon shares.
Well, how about their European Growth Trust? Surely there’s no oilsands there. Wrong. According to their August, 2010 report, the mighty oil company, Total SA, is one of their top five holdings. Total is big into oilsands. Baines’ company has more than $16 million of those shares.
Even their flagship Sustainable Leaders Trust just can’t quit Alberta. Their second-largest holding, $21 million shares in Smiths Group PLC, boasts of its contracts in the oilsands. In a press release last year, Smiths talks about its contracts in the “first of three planned oilsands mining project expansions.”
How many tofu-eating, Prius-driving, Green-voting Brits who put their savings into Co-op Financial’s ethical investments know this? It’s possible to find out — you have to dig up Co-op Financial’s filings and go through the list of companies. Exxon was easy to spot, but unless you read the annual report of something called Smiths, there’s just no way to know the full extent of The Co-op’s oilsands ownership.
I have previously asked The Co-op Bank how they can denounce the oilsands so noisily while Co-Op Financial — two companies under the same umbrella of the Co-operative Group — actually own tens of millions of dollars worth of shares so quietly.
They told me the only ban they have on oilsands is banking services — like doing payroll cheques for Exxon. The nickel and dime stuff. Their enormous investment arm — $29 billion in holdings — is free to invest in oilsands.
But that’s not what Baines told the CBC.
“We will not invest our customers’ money in unconventional fossil fuels such as the tar sands,” Baines said, speaking as the bank spokesman.
His comments seem to be misleading. And the CBC bought it, without even checking.
Whether or not British investors might feel misled is up to them, the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority and their Advertising Standards Authority.
Sounds like a lot of folks have been suckered. But that’s not our problem.
Our problem is the CBC takes $1 billion from taxpayers every year to give us environmentalist propaganda without balance — or even basic fact-checking.