November 2010 Archives
How’s Portugal doing these days?
It’s not a question that most Canadians would ask, other than last month when the United Nations voted for Portugal instead of us for a two-year term on the UN Security Council.
Portugal is a very exciting place these days. But not in a good way. Last week they were gripped with a general strike that paralyzed hospitals, airports and trains.
The general strike was in response to proposed government spending cuts. Portugal has subsidized its Euro-welfare lifestyle by borrowing. The government claims its national debt is 86% of GDP, but the Portuguese opposition party says the true figure is actually 122%. And that’s just the government. Private debt is 239% of GDP.
Portugal is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but joining the European Union and using the euro as their currency took away its ability to chart its own destiny. Poor countries — like China — can artificially make themselves competitive by devaluing their currency. A weak currency is like a national pay cut, but it makes exports more affordable to foreign customers, and attracts bargain-hunting tourists too, which is important in a place like Portugal.
But such local tactics are extinct in a euro zone whose one-size-fits-all economic policies are set by the big economies like Germany. Germany might be big enough to bail out Greece and Ireland. But Portugal, and Spain next? It’s all coming apart — and thank Thatcher that the Brits kept their pound.
But back to Portugal. It’s not just a matter of debt and continued overspending. The economy is structurally weak — unproductive and strewn with thick red tape that kills jobs. Only a miracle could help, and Europe is running out of those. And even a spendthrift like U.S. President Barack Obama couldn’t get away with bailing out Portugal’s banks.
But there is someone ready to help: The People’s Republic of China.
China doesn’t have a debt. It has a surplus. It has $2.6 trillion in cash that’s burning a hole in its pocket. And it’s out shopping for power.
Earlier this month, China’s president visited Lisbon and met with the Portuguese prime minister, Jose Socrates. That in itself is surprising. Portugal is a small country — just 11 million people, and an economy of just $250 billion — smaller than Alberta’s.
But that’s the point. China’s hobby is collecting small, weak countries. You collect enough of them, and you’ve got yourself a little sphere of influence. You’re not just an economic and military superpower. You’re a geopolitical superpower, too.
“We are willing to take concrete measures to help Portugal cope with the global financial crisis,” said China’s President Hu Jintao. All of a sudden, Portugal has a new patron, and it’s not Germany or the U.S.
In addition to loans, China is talking about buying a stake in Portugal’s power utility and telephone company.
Giving Portugal $100 billion is unthinkable for America. After Greece and Ireland, it might not even be possible for the EU to do. But that’s just a rounding error for China.
What a nice trinket Portugal will make on China’s mantle, right next to its other beneficiaries, like Sudan.
Sudan is a rogue state; the butcher of Darfur. But it’s also a major source of oil for China, and a growing customer for Chinese weapons. Sudan gives China what it wants. And China returns the favour, by protecting Sudan from criticism at the UN with its permanent veto at the Security Council.
Which brings us back to Portugal. They won the UN vote not because they’re strong, but because they’re weak. The world’s dictators don’t want a strong democracy on the Security Council. A desperate beggar is more pliable.
Watch Portugal’s voting record at the UN Security Council. Watch them as they consider Chinese allies like Iran and Sudan. Watch them on human rights.
Portugal used to be an empire. Now it’s about to become a colony.
I'm not sure if this fancy narcissist trust fund playboy poseur drama teacher 90-minutes-each-morning-to-do-his-hair-and-open-shirt-just-right stugots is going to click with the suburban familes of Vaughan. But that pretends that this ad is about Vaughan. It's not. It's about Justin Trudeau. For Justin Trudeau, it's always about Justin Trudeau.
Could you imagine listening to him for ten minutes about, say, Afghanistan?
The moment he declares for the Liberal leadership, I'm chipping in.
Speaking of the oilsands, here's my latest Sun column about a new opinion poll on the subject:
Leger Marketing has done a new poll asking Canadians about the oilsands.
Canadians believe technology will solve the challenges of the oilsands - but they're not confident technology can solve the problems of offshore oil in places like the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea.
Confidence in oilsands technology is probably wellplaced.
To pick just one example, since 1990, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to produce an average barrel of oilsands oil has fallen by 38%.
And it's not just CO2. Underground "in situ" oilsands production doesn't use any fresh water, and it doesn't create a large blemish on the surface of the land. Canadians know our OPEC competitors don't care about a clean environment, but the oilsands do. The poll is encouraging for that reason alone.
Canadians also told Leger they care about the economy - not surprising given the recent recession. And 44% of Canadians say our national economy depends on the oilsands, as opposed to 28% who say it doesn't. Those 28% probably don't realize their pension funds are invested in oilsands companies, which are as large as the financial sector on the TSX.
And 44% of Canadians say oilsands development benefits all Canadians, as opposed to 29% who say it only benefits Albertans. That 29% probably doesn’t know there are more people working for the oilsands in Ontario - from Bay Street finance jobs to heavy equipment manufacturing - than work for the Big Three automakers.
And, as Liberal Sen. Bill Rompkey said in the Senate earlier this month, there are plenty of communities in Newfoundland where half of the income in town comes from the oilsands.
Leger also asked Canadians who they look to for environmental information. Greenpeace was suggested as one answer, and Canadians were allowed to choose as many answers as they liked.
Only 13.8% of Canadians said Greenpeace, and just 10.1% said they listened to Greenpeace about the oilsands in particular. The media loves Greenpeace, and dutifully acts as their stenographers.
But Canadians know Greenpeace is about as credible as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the radical vegetarian group more about stunts and showboating than actual informed debate.
Only one in 10 Canadians look to Greenpeace for information about the oilsands — probably the same number that look to a palm-reader or Ouija board.
Leger says the number one phrase Canadians choose to describe the energy sector is "job-creating." But the number two phrase is "environmental disaster."
There are real environmental disasters in the world: Nigeria, with nearly 2,000 unremediated toxic oil spills that will never be cleaned up; Nigeria and Iraq flare off so much natural gas, you can see it at night from space.
The idea of reforesting a mine, as over 60 sq.-km of oilsands have already done, is unthinkable in OPEC countries.
They're dictatorships that don't value human life - why would they value plants?
And that's another thing: Leger asked about the environment. But they didn’t ask Canadians to compare the ethics of the oilsands to OPEC when it comes to human rights, fair wages or war and terrorism.
Canada's oilsands have a lot more persuading to do. But the Leger survey says ordinary Canadians haven't bought the anti-oilsands propaganda served up to them by the CBC, or foreign lobby groups like Greenpeace.
I have been touring Canada for ten weeks in support of my book, Ethical Oil, but tomorrow is the first time my book tour takes me to the center of the action: Fort McMurray itself -- the ethical oil capital of the world.
Not enough people go to Fort McMurray, because it's simply out of the way for most folks. So a hostile narrative that has been carefully built up about it by foreign lobbyists has taken root. One of my favourite parts of the book is debunking those anti-Fort McMurray slurs, using real statistics.
If you're in Fort McMurray, pop by the chamber of commerce lunch tomorrow at noon at the Sawridge Inn. Here's a preview of the event that was published on the front page of the city's paper, Fort McMurray Today, a couple of days ago:
While he may be viewed as controversial by some, Ezra Levant is coming to town Tuesday, making the case for ethical oil — also the name of his latest book.
Levant, a Calgary lawyer and former publisher of the Western Standard news magazine, is the guest speaker at the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce luncheon at The Sawridge Inn.
..."Ezra Levant has done an incredible service I think to the province of Alberta and to Canada as a whole in finally making this argument and he does it better than anybody," said David MacLean, vice-president of the Alberta Enterprise Group. "He's a controversial guy and he has a way with words ... he's really boiled it down to a case for Canadian oil that can make sense to anybody.
...He'll be discussing his book which makes the case that Canadian oil is the only true ethical alternative to OPEC oil, he added, with the human rights problems and history of war in the region and the threats against Canadian and North American security by Middle Eastern organizations.
MacLean says that anybody who is interested in debate, no matter where they stand, ought to come out and hear Levant.
‘He'll either enrage you or thrill you because he tends to do that. He tends to push people off the fence, and if you're sitting on the fence on oilsands energy development, and I know there are people in Fort McMurray who are."
Here's the "writer's cut" version of my Sun column that ran today.
What is it with university presidents threatening to sic the police on their critics?
In March, University of Ottawa president Allan Rock approved a letter written by his deputy to Ann Coulter, the U.S. political commentator, threatening to prosecute her under the Criminal Code if she said the wrong things in her speech on campus.
Incredibly, Rock was not fired by the university’s trustees for that demolition of academic freedom.
Mamdouh Shoukri, the president of York University, must have been watching. Because he took the legal threats business a step further last week.
Last Wednesday, Shoukri’s university hosted a speech by George Galloway, the disgraced former MP from the UK. On a trip to Gaza, Galloway was filmed handing wads of cash to Hamas, an illegal terrorist group.
Shoukri had no problem with Galloway speaking on his campus. But when Aaron Hoch, a local Jewish rabbi, criticized Galloway and encouraged people to participate in a peaceful protest against him, Shoukri leapt into action.
He had the university’s lawyer fax a letter to the rabbi at his synagogue, demanding he take down his criticisms from his website. And Shoukri went further, claiming that encouraging people to peacefully protest against Galloway “may constitute criminal activity.”
So Galloway and his fellow Hamas supporters were free to have the run of the university. Shoukri even provided them with security.
But if Torontonians dared counter-protest, they could be charged with crimes.
And then there’s the icing on the cake: Shoukri demanded a written apology from Rabbi Hoch. Hoch claimed Shoukri was insufficiently concerned about Galloway’s anti-semitism and harassment of Jewish students on campus. To show just how concerned he was, Shoukri demanded the rabbi shut up.
That’s how it works back in Egypt, where Shoukri comes from. Anti-Semitic groups get official podiums from which to speak, and Jews are silenced. But that’s not how we do it in Canada.
Or at least it’s not supposed to be. The president of York University’s student federation likes to roll Egyptian-style, too. Last year he was part of a group of pro-Palestinian radicals who swarmed the Jewish students on campus, who had to barricade themselves into a closed room for safety. The student president’s name is Krisna Saravanamuttu, and on Wednesday night when he saw Jewish students protesting against Galloway – he let out a torrent of swears against them.
At least he didn’t send them a threatening letter like his role model did.
And that’s the thing about having university presidents who are tone-deaf to academic values like free speech and non-violence. The students watch and learn.
When the University of Ottawa wrote its threatening letter to Ann Coulter, leftist student activists took it as a green light to do anything necessary to storm the event and shut it down – and U of O’s security didn’t stop them.
Same thing at York: if Shoukri can threaten Jewish leaders with legal demand letters, it’s not too many steps further for a student leader to threaten them with swears and physically intimidate them. A fish rots from the head down, and at U of O and York the rot is well-progressed.
But it’s unfair to say that York University is hostile to all Jews. It welcomes some of them – or at least their money.
A Jew named Seymour Schulich donated $27 million to their business school. A Jew named Barry Sherman gave $5 million to their health centre. The late Milton Harris and his family – he was a president of the Canadian Jewish Congress – broke the $5 million mark, too. In fact, all of York’s biggest donors are Jews.
If you’re a Jew who gives Shoukri lots of money, he’ll name a building after you. If you’re a Jew who protests Hamas sympathizers, he’ll threaten to sue you.
It’s so simple, students can grasp it.
A few weeks ago Ben West, a "community organizer" for B.C.'s Wilderness Committee challenged me to a debate about the oilsands. I happily accepted and we had at it last night in Vancouver, at a function moderated ably by the editor of the Georgia Straight newspaper, Charlie Smith.
Ben and Charlie are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet, and both are genuinely dedicated to the public.
I happen to disagree with most of Ben's views -- he made it clear last night that his opposition to capitalism drives his environmental activism -- but he's open to discussions, which is more than one could say for that profiteer David Suzuki.
But not everyone in the room was reasonable. Here's a charming photoshop picture of me, uploaded to Facebook today by a less peaceful anti-oilsands activist:
Surprise! Canadian travellers to the United States are now subject to having high school dropouts touch their breasts, penises and vaginas as part of “airline security.”
Sorry, do the words penis and vagina make you uncomfortable?
They certainly make the U.S. Transportation Security Administration uncomfortable.
The TSA can’t even bring themselves to use those words when describing their new “enhanced pat-down” procedure.
You will find them nowhere on their website, including their section on advice for travellers.
They have pages about how to pack your toothpaste.
But they don’t tell you that you will stand in line while a stranger touches you in places that, if done by anyone else, would lead to sexual assault charges.
Oh, by the way: Their touching of penises and vaginas isn’t limited to adults.
They grope children, too. In the past two weeks, the Internet has been flooded by videos taken by passengers on their cellphone cameras, filming their own screaming children being fondled by uniformed officials.
So what’s the new rule for parents to teach our children?
Don’t let strangers touch your privates—unless they say they’re allowed to?
Unless they are in a position of authority? Unless Barack Obama says it’s OK?
Speaking of which, where is the American Civil Liberties Union? They love suing the TSA when they think that agency is too strict on Muslim or Arab passengers. But they don’t have a word to say about the new policy of sexual harassment.
Right now, North America’s official civil libertarians are too busy campaigning for the rights of terrorists to care about the fact millions of Americans — and Canadian tourists — are being sexually assaulted.
Without a trace of irony, the TSA says its officers are “rigorously trained to maintain the highest levels of professionalism.”
A perusal of the TSA’s help wanted ads shows just how rigorously trained they are: Their “officers” need to be 18 years old and speak English.
That’s about it.
A high school diploma is recommended, but isn’t necessary if they have worked for a year as a security guard — say, at a local mall or as a bouncer in a bar.
And all that power, and touching children in their privates to check for “bombs,” comes with a starting salary of $29,000.
In some airports, the alternative to these assaults is strip-search scanners that use low-dose radiation to peer underneath your clothes. Both the TSA and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority claim those scanners don’t store or print images. But a CNN investigation shows those scanners have hard drives, USB ports, Ethernet ports and changeable privacy settings.
A pilot from Skywest was going through security in Denver with his 18-year-old daughter and overheard a TSA officer saying into his headset, “heads up, got a cutie for you.”
So what would you rather do? Have a bouncer touch your privates, and your children’s privates through your clothes? Or have a bouncer see you naked on a TV screen?
Forget our civil liberties.
Who is a greater threat to the airline industry: Terrorists, or the fools in charge of this sham security?
The Chicago Climate Exchange is shutting down at the end of the year.
Nobody’s buying carbon credits.
Right now, days go by when not a single trade is done. When trades are done, carbon dioxide sells for just five cents a ton.
In related news, the Pixie Dust Exchange has plenty of eager sellers but still no buyers. And the opening of the unicorn exhibit at the zoo has been postponed indefinitely.
None of these things exist in real life. Except the Chicago Climate Exchange. It was given millions of dollars in start-up subsidies, including from Chicago’s Joyce Foundation when Barack Obama was a board member. Buying and selling imaginary carbon credits was going to lead us to a bold, green future, when people would pay billions — Al Gore said trillions! — to buy hot air.
If only Enron and Bernie Madoff had been smart enough to call their pyramid schemes “green funds.”
The Climate Exchange was created by a professor named Richard Sandor. In 2002, Time magazine called him a “Hero of the Planet” for that act.
But as the exchange’s own website suggests, companies bought and sold carbon as a public-relations exercise — to greenwash their operations in the eyes of the gullible media.
Big guns like Goldman Sachs bought a stake in the exchange hoping for far more. They were betting that with Obama in the White House, carbon trading would become mandatory under the Democrats’ “cap and trade” scheme. That was the plan Obama said would cause “the rise of the oceans to slow and the planet to heal.”
But that law died in the U.S. mid-term elections, the worst showing for Democrats since 1948. Carbon trading was one of the reasons: In a TV ad, Senate candidate Joe Manchin actually took a rifle and used the cap and trade bill as target practice.
And he won.
And he’s a Democrat.
Don’t worry about poor Prof. Sandor, though. The Investors Business Daily reports he managed to sell his stake in the exchange for
Too bad the Exchange is being shut down. Because at five cents a ton, the entire oilsands, all 100 companies up there, could buy Al Gore’s good housekeeping seal of approval for just $1.5 million a year.
The exchange made it all seem so real. You could even buy or sell carbon dioxide with different “vintages” — that’s what they called hot air from various years — as if they were fine wines.
But $1.5 million is still a lot of money to spend buying an imaginary product — moral permission from foreigners to run our Canadian economy. That’s a lot less than the
$2 billion carbon sequestration scheme proposed by the government of Alberta — a plan to bury pixie dust, or hot air, or maybe both, in the ground.
All of Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions combined were 734 megatons in 2008. At five cents a ton, that’s just $36.7 million to buy an indulgence for the whole country — for every car, factory, airplane and farting cow.
Just $36.7 million? That’s not much more than the travel budget for the Canadian delegation to the Copenhagen Conference and other global-warming parties last year.
Sure, it’s a shakedown. But it’s a pretty modest one. Just $1.10 per Canadian to push the mute button for a whole year on hysterical global-warming activists? That’s a bargain.
As the unloved Chicago Climate Exchange dies, a dangerous myth dies too: That carbon credits are worth anything, and that somehow trading these worthless, imaginary credits, could replace the jobs we’d kill in real industries.
No; carbon credits are a tax, a tax on environmental hysteria and appeasement-oriented companies. If Goldman Sachs can’t make money off them, no-one can.
Next time someone tells you that we’re all going to get rich off some government green scheme, tell them you’ve got a little climate exchange to sell them, and you’ll throw in a unicorn too.
I've had a few days off from the book tour, but I'm back at it again starting this weekend. Here's the latest list of public events. Thanks to Josh Glover, publicity manager of McClelland & Stewart, for arranging so many details. Please note the corrections of certain dates and location.
Saturday, November 13, Ottawa
Free Thinking Festival, 4 p.m. Library & Archives Canada (debate vs. Elizabeth May). Details here.
Tuesday, November 16, Calgary
Mount Royal University, 12 noon, details to come
Thursday, November 18, Calgary
Tuesday, November 30, Ottawa [NOTE CORRECTED DATE]
Fraser Institute reception and dinner, Rideau Club, 5:30 p.m. Details here.
Fraser Institute reception and dinner, Sassafraz restaurant, 5:30 p.m. Details here.
Thursday, December 2, Winnipeg
Frontier Centre lunch, 12 noon. Details here.
Friday, December 3, Calgary
Frontier Centre breakfast. Details here.
Why did U.S. President Barack Obama give $65 billion of taxpayers' money to General Motors, and pressure Canada to give another $9 billion?
So he could clean up its balance sheet for selling a large stake in it to China, through China's government-controlled automaker, SAIC.
I suppose fair's fair. Obama really isn't spending taxpayers' money these days; he's spending money borrowed from China. It's just future taxpayers who will have to pay that $65 billion back, with interest.
The scandal here isn't so much that a decrepit, union-choked company fifty years past its prime is being gobbled up by cash-rich China. That's probably healthy.
The scandal is that Obama prepped the sale by pouring money into it. How desperate and pathetic.
But they don't call him the Manchurian President for nothing.
Honourable senators, I rise with great enthusiasm to commence a Senate inquiry into Canada's oil sands, the world's most ethical source of oil. I am enthusiastic because, by the nature of public affairs, the attention of Parliament is often directed to bad news, problems or shortcomings. Like any human endeavour, the oil sands come with their share of challenges. However, when measured by our national values, the oil sands are a good news story — a story that all of us can be proud of, and one that shows our Canadian identity and can shape our industries in a way that makes us an ethical role model for the world.
The oil sands are a national project that reflects Canadian values like environmental conservation, peace, fair treatment of working men and women, respect for minorities and scientific excellence, all done on a scale as big as Canada itself. It is a story of the world's most conscientious country becoming a reliable energy source for the world in a way that has never been done before.
Canada's oil sands are a bold, moral counterpoint to the brutal manner in which OPEC countries produce oil. In other words, the oil sands are a Canadian success story....
Today we export 1.4 million barrels of oil sands oil to the U.S. through pipelines. At current world prices, that is more than $100 million every single day. Most of Canada's oil sands oil is made into gasoline for U.S. cars, and that final product is no different from gasoline made from oil that comes from more conventional sources, like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and other OPEC countries. It all burns the same in the car and because of global commodity prices, it all the costs the same.
However, there is an important moral difference: The way we go about producing oil in Canada is superior to any other major oil producer in the world. As author Ezra Levant outlines in his new book, Ethical Oil, our oil is in keeping with the values that make Canada great. He lists four values that include environmentalism, peace, economic justice and respect for minorities. On each of these criteria, Canadian oil is better than other countries' oil. We have become the fair trade coffee of the world's oil industry.
Take the first measure, "environmentalism." Respect for our natural environment is a Canadian value as old as Canada itself. That is reflected not only in our environmental laws and regulations but also in the culture of our oil companies.
Oil sands mines, like all mines, have tailings, which is the sand and clay left over after the oil has been removed. Unlike most mines around the world, our laws require that tailing ponds be fully reclaimed once the mine is exhausted. So far, 65 square kilometres of mines have been fully rehabilitated, replanted with native grasses and trees and repopulated with wildlife, including bison.
...The Obama administration's full life-cycle approach to measuring CO2 from well to wheels — taking everything into account, from the environmental footprint of Saudi supertankers to Canadian recycling of natural gas — shows that our oil sands oil has a lower carbon footprint than Venezuelan oil, for instance, and an even lower carbon footprint than the oil industry in California — which is often regarded as an environmentally forward thinking state. Remember Nancy Pelosi coming up here criticizing us?
Here is a one-question moral test for the oil sands critics: Would they rather have the United States import crude oil from countries like Venezuela, which have a higher carbon footprint than Canadian oil?
Americans will be buying their oil from somewhere. Should not good faith environmentalists who care about carbon dioxide prefer our Canadian oil sands oil over higher carbon oil from Venezuela? That is a real life choice. Oil sands oil versus OPEC oil: Whose side are we on?
...Iran is another one of the world's largest oil producers and it is now the chair of OPEC. Iran is the leading financier of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, giving them money, weapons and training. It is also actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program and has threatened to use those weapons against Israel and the West.
...Honourable senators, by what moral code is it acceptable to throw hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work, killing high-paying jobs here, just to give more work to countries where the dictators skim off all the profits and low-paid workers with no labour rights just get the scraps? It would be immoral for our government to punish Canadian families by exporting our energy jobs to OPEC. It is even more immoral given the abusive manner in which those OPEC countries treat their workers.
...Ironically, that is why the "Greenpeaces" of this world are so active here and so silent about the butchers in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Nigeria and Venezuela.
It is precisely because we are the world's ethical leaders that it is safe for them to attack our industry and to kill our jobs. It is a paradox. Greenpeace lays off the world's worst countries precisely because they are the world's worst countries. They criticize the world's gentlest country because we are just that. You would think they would focus on the real carbon emitters and the real peace abusers; but that is too hard and too dangerous, and they have their fundraising quotas to fill. That is why so few Canadians today set their moral compass by Greenpeace. When viewed through an ethical lens, there is only one conclusion: Canadian oil is the most ethical oil in the world.
Newfoundland's Liberal Senator, Bill Rompkey, then chimed in. He said it was a question but really it was a friendly statement of support:
In her research, did the honourable senator identify how many Newfoundlanders are working in Fort McMurray? Does she appreciate the economic impact that this has on the province of Newfoundland? Does she know that in some cases 50 per cent of the economy of a relatively large Newfoundland community depends on Fort McMurray? Newfoundlanders who work in Fort McMurray have homes in Newfoundland; they commute. Does that not speak to the point that she was making?
I'm thrilled with these Senators, all the more so since they're from Ontario (and in Sen. Rompkey's case, Newfoundland). A Senate inquiry does not change policy or the law; it is an airing of the facts about a subject. But in these days of thick anti-oilsands propaganda and showboating U.S. celebrities like James Cameron and James Hansen, it's so refreshing to hear some fact-packed discussions in Parliament. And, naturally I'm chuffed that my book and its ideas are being picked up.
...Two years ago... 1,600 ducks died when they landed in a tailings pond. Syncrude was prosecuted under the criminal law and fined a total of $3 million.
...By focusing on these occasional and minor bird accidents in the oil sands instead of the massive, systematic, routine environmental devastation in OPEC or the shockingly common violation of human rights in OPEC countries, critics of the oil sands are no longer acting ethically. It is like a policeman ignoring an armed robbery to give a ticket to a jaywalker.
It is not just about ducks. Take greenhouse gases. One of the chief objections to the oil sands is that they have a slightly higher carbon footprint than some other sources of oil. Not all other sources, mind you. Canadian oil sands oil takes less carbon to produce than heavy oil from Venezuela or California and even less than oil from Nigeria and Iraq because of all the natural gas those countries flare.
If you subscribe to the theory of manmade global warming, you would want to replace high carbon oil from Venezuela, California and other sources with lower carbon oil from Canada's oil sands. Even that is not the whole story.
The entire oil sands combined emit about 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year, or about 5 per cent of Canada's emissions. There are individual coal-fired plants in the United States that emit 25 megatonnes a year each, such as the Scherer plant in Juliette, Georgia. That is just one single power plant. Even that big plant is barely in the top 20 coal-fired high emitting power stations in the world.
By far, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, with half a dozen individual coal-fired plants bigger than the one in Georgia. China builds two or three new coal-fired plants every week.
...Oil sands critics are engaging in a form of pollution imperialism; they would rather any side effects from energy production happen in the poor Third World rather than here in Canada, even though we are far better at mitigating that pollution. Not exactly an enlightened viewpoint.
I mention this because so few of the critics of the oil sands do. They would rather point to a pound of CO2 in Canada than a tonne of it in China. That is not true environmentalism; that is either a political agenda or a fundraising agenda.
Honourable senators, do not confuse any of this for an acceptance of the environmental status quo here in Canada. Like everyone in this chamber, I hope that the oil sands and all Canadian industries continue to relentlessly pursue new technologies and new ways of doing business to become cleaner and cleaner each year. I know that many of the new oil sands technologies, especially the in situ underground ones, do not need tailings ponds, and they use recycled, non-potable water instead of river water. This is a very hopeful sign of things to come.
There are other technologies being tested that are completely water-free, such as Petrobank's THAI process, which stands for "toe-to-heel air injection." That is another underground process that combusts the bitumen using compressed air, melting the oil away for easy extraction, no water or steam needed.
With no open-pit mines, no tailings ponds and no water needed, the THAI process should be an environmentalist's dream, but paradoxically, some anti-oil sands lobbyists expressed dismay at such breakthrough technologies because they will lose their best fundraising tools, those graphic pictures of the open-pit mines.
Honourable senators, when activist pressure groups gang up on liberal Western companies and give a free pass to the world's dictatorships, the outcomes can be perverse.
...The Islamic Republic of Iran is now the chair of OPEC — Iran, the builder of nuclear bombs, the attacker of democratic dissidents, the exporter of terrorism and anti-Semitism. Iran beat or killed more than 230 opposition activists in its last rigged elections. Why do not we talk about that, rather than 230 ducks?
On behalf of senators of all parties and of all provinces, I am happy to join with Senator Eaton to say Canada's oil is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, Canadian oil — oil sands oil — is the most ethical oil in the world.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is at it again.
The latest embarrassment from this out-of-control government agency is their gift of tax dollars to a group called “Racism Free Edmonton.” It’s an ironic name, because the world view of Racism Free Edmonton is racist itself.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is a specialist at the Orwellian perversion of language. Their counterfeit “right not to be offended” has meant the infringement of real rights, like freedom of speech.
What is Racism Free Edmonton’s advice for stopping racism? You must “acknowledge your white privilege.”
They say white Canadians “have likely harmed non-white people with our own whiteness.” Sorry, the only people I know who talk that way are race-obsessed bigots.
And in case you aren’t willing to be called a racist just because you’re born white, Racism Free Edmonton has another insult for you: You’re just a racist in denial of your racism. And denying your racism “perpetuates racism.”
The last time a government tried that logic was in the 1690s in Salem, Mass. There, 150 people were arrested and accused of witchcraft. Of course, most denied it — which is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect a witch to say.
So let’s be a little more accurate. Racism Free Edmonton should be called Racism Edmonton. They have violated our rights as individuals to be judged on our own merits, by our own words and deeds. They have stereotyped us, saying everyone who is white is guilty. The corollary is obvious: Anyone who isn’t white is a victim. That’s a form of bigotry, too.
This is disgusting. But, given the involvement of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, it’s not surprising.
That’s the kangaroo court that accused me of “hate speech” in 2006 when I published a news story about the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and the resulting riots overseas that murdered more than 200 people.
No fewer than 15 Alberta government bureaucrats and lawyers prosecuted me for 900 days for reporting the news and showing our readers the cartoons. And instead of being shut down for that abuse of process, the commission got a million-dollar budget increase as their reward.
The same human rights commission also persecuted Stephen Boissoin, a Christian pastor, for writing a letter to the editor criticizing gay marriage. They ordered him to pay a fine, and to never “disparage” gay marriage again, either in public sermons or even in private e-mails.
This, in a province whose motto is “strong and free.”
Neighbouring Saskatchewan is taking a baby step towards cleaning out these stables. They’ve announced that their human rights cases will now be heard by real judges — not the radical activists who have turned Canada’s human rights commissions into reverse-racism hothouses.
Concepts like evidence and due process will now be implemented, and hopefully cost penalties for abusive, shakedown complaints, like the one that left me with $100,000 in legal fees.
But it’s not enough. Because even real judges should not have the power to censor people for being politically incorrect — which is what Rev. Boissoin and I were really charged with. Political censorship is unconstitutional, and must be taken away from human rights bullies across Canada.
Still, Saskatchewan’s reforms would do more than anyone else — including the allegedly Conservative governments in Edmonton and Ottawa.
Here's a link to the "human rights" hate site itself, though I wonder how long before it's taken down. If there's one thing these activists value more than their own bigotry, it's the free money they get from taxpayers.
By the way, it's not just the province of Alberta that chipped in -- so did the federal government, too.
Forget the moral case for making the murderer Omar Khadr serve his time in a U.S. prison instead of bringing him to Canada to be set free on our streets.
Either you get it, or you don't.
Forget the legal case for keeping him out — our International Transfer of Offenders Act says Canada does not have to accept prison transfers that pose a security threat. Even Khadr's lawyers confess he hasn't been deradicalized.
Forget the dangerousness of putting an unrepentant killer — who says replaying the murder in his mind makes him happy — in our neighbourhoods with no restrictions on where he can go, who he can meet or what he can do.
Forget the PR victory it would give al-Qaida to have one of their young leaders triumphantly set free to continue his jihad by other means — through propaganda and his $10 million lawsuit against our country.
Forget the effect it will have on the morale of our Canadian Forces who continue to serve in Afghanistan. Forget the desecration of the memory of the 152 Canadians who have died there, and the hundreds more who have been wounded.
Let's just talk about the partisan politics of this. Because politics is the business of Lawrence Cannon, our foreign minister who cut a midnight deal with the Obama administration to spring Khadr out of prison.
According to an Ipsos-Reid poll, 69% of Canadians say Cannon's plea deal is too lenient. But even that 69% is misleadingly low, because the pollster said that, under the deal, Khadr would be "released some day after serving his sentence." That's not true. Under Cannon's plea bargain, Khadr won't serve his sentence. That's the point. He'll be out on the streets in just a year or two, because of Canada's lenient parole laws.
If Ipsos-Reid had asked about the two real alternatives: letting Khadr finish his eight-year prison term in the U.S., or letting him loose in Canada in 2012, opposition would probably have risen to 89%. Trial lawyers, Khadr's depraved family (they share his support for al-Qaida), and CBC reporters probably add up to 11%.
For the sake of argument, let's say there really are 31% of Canadians who want Khadr free. From a strictly partisan point of view, why would Cannon compete for those voters instead of the 69% who want Khadr kept out?
When was the last time the Tories did anything that had 69% popularity?
The opposition parties are trying to outdo each other for that 31%. Alex Atamanenko, the NDP MP from B.C., is typical. Last week, he compared Khadr to our allied troops in Afghanistan.
"Something here doesn't quite make sense," Atamanenko said. "What about all the other soldiers who have killed people? What about all the people who have died at the hands of the Americans?"
Is Atamanenko saying we should treat al-Qaida terrorists the same way we treat NATO soldiers? If we prosecute Khadr, we ought to prosecute allied troops — perhaps even our own troops?
Cannon can't out-crazy that. So why is he trying?
Perhaps Cannon thinks Canadians who are afraid of Khadr have nowhere else to go on voting day. Perhaps he thinks there's no cost to undoing the Conservative reputation for law and order, principled foreign policy and vigilance against terrorism.
I doubt any passionate anti-Khadr voters would vote Liberal, although to their credit when the Liberals were in power from 2002 to 2006, they were firmly against bringing Khadr back.
More likely is that thousands of Conservative voters will just stay home — not donate, not volunteer, not put up a lawn sign, not even vote.
Can demoralizing your base make a difference? Ernie Eves can tell you a story about that. After last week's U.S. elections, so can Barack Obama.
A Conservative majority? No. Lawrence Cannon, the master strategist who won his own seat with just 32% last time, has a better idea.
Khadr fight was thrown
Why did Omar Khadr’s prosecutors ask the jury for a sentence of 25 years to life, if they already cut a deal with him for just eight years in jail?
Why did the prosecution agree to a plea bargain at all, given the success it had this fall, when the judge ruled Khadr’s confessions were admissible at trial? Those confessions, along with captured al-Qaida videotape of Khadr posing with machine guns and assembling roadside bombs, made the case a slam dunk.
On Sunday, the jury came back with a sentence of 40 years. Normally that would be seen as an enormous success by prosecutors. So why did the lead prosecutor, Jeff Groharing, refuse to attend the press conference afterwards, leaving the spin to John Murphy, his political boss?
It’s obvious. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered them to throw the fight. The 40-year sentence will be ignored. The prosecutors had to follow orders like good soldiers and offer the deal, but they couldn’t pretend to be happy about it. Let Murphy, Guantanamo’s political hack, spin it as a success.
Obama threw justice away. Because prosecuting an al-Qaida murderer is contrary to his policy of appeasing terrorism. That’s what happens when you make a community organizer your commander in chief.
Within months of becoming president, Obama banned the word terrorism from his administration’s vocabulary, replacing it with the phrase “man-caused disasters.” If you can’t even bring yourself to say the word terrorism, how could you bring yourself to fight it?
Layne Morris, a U.S. army sergeant blinded in one eye during the battle with Khadr, knows who rigged the game: “Only continued political meddling has resulted in a deal.”
Morris has a warning for Canadians: “I would urge the Canadian government … to take all precautions to ensure that Mr. Khadr and the Khadr family are no longer threats to our way of life and to our families.”
Monday in question period, Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s foreign minister, said he would submit to Obama’s wishes, and accept transfer of Khadr next year. He’ll be out on parole mere months later.
Most Americans no longer trust Obama to make decisions for their country. But Cannon is letting Obama make decisions for our country — decisions that could put Canadian families in harm’s way.
Khadr admits to replaying the murder in his mind for pleasure. His lawyers admit he needs to be deradicalized. The prosecution’s psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner, interviewed Khadr and testified he is a master manipulator, regarded as a jihadist leader. Which raises another question: Why didn’t Khadr’s lawyers bring evidence to rebut Welner’s testimony?
Because they had none. Khadr’s team had two psychologists and a psychiatrist. But it’s hard for medical professionals to pretend a remorseless killer is innocent. So they never took the witness stand.
We have one year to scupper Cannon’s midnight deal with Obama before Khadr crosses the border. Time to speak up.
Don’t do it for Christopher Speer, the army medic murdered by Khadr. Don’t do it for Tabitha Speer, the widow, or her fatherless children, Taryn and Tanner. Don’t do it for Layne Morris’s blind eye.
Do it for your own family.
Cannon thinks your neighbourhood is a better place for Khadr than a U.S. prison.
Tell Cannon he’s wrong. Tell him Obama can’t use our streets as his garbage can.
Tell him your vote in the next election turns on it.
Don't welcome back Khadr
When life gets you down, what do you think about to raise your spirits? What’s the “happy place” in your mind? Someone you love? Something you’ve done that makes you proud?
When prison life got Omar Khadr down, he said he would think about how it felt to kill Christopher Speer, the U.S. army medic he murdered in Afghanistan.
Daydreaming about murdering Speer “would make him feel good.” He “felt happy” when he learned that Speer had died.
Khadr said building remote-controlled roadside bombs to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan was “the proudest moment of his life.” He had a special hatred for Jews.
That’s no run-of-the-mill murderer. That’s Russell Williams stuff. It’s Paul Bernardo territory. Normal people would feel remorse or disgust at taking a life. Only psychopaths feel pleasure and re-enact the murderers again and again in their minds.
Khadr is a psychopath. And he’s coming back to Canada.
The details of the secret deal between Canada’s foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not been revealed. But reports out of Guantanamo Bay are that Khadr will be sentenced to eight years in prison: One year in the U.S. before coming to Canada for the rest of the sentence.
But, under Canadian parole laws, Khadr will be out on the streets almost immediately — likely within months of arriving here.
Khadr has never renounced the jihad. He has never renounced al-Qaida. And he most certainly has not renounced murdering Speer.
Last week in court he told the widow of the man he murdered that he was “really, really sorry for the pain I’ve caused you,” reading that sentence from a cue-card, to get it just right.
He’s not sorry for what he did. He’s sorry — he says — that she’s sad about what he did. That’s a different thing. He regrets her emotional reaction to his murder.
Yet, even that non-apology wasn’t made under oath — so Khadr can’t be asked questions about it. Ten seconds of Khadr’s comments were directed to Speer’s widow.
Then Khadr went on and on about his hobbies and dreams and big plans for life after prison. After he spoke, a teacher from Edmonton testified about how excited she would be to have Khadr in her school. Seriously.
Does Canada really have to accept this murderer back on our streets, and in our schools and communities?
The International Transfer of Offenders Act says we do not.
Section 10 of that law says Canada can refuse to take a Canadian prisoner from another country if it would “constitute a threat to the security of Canada.” Khadr is clearly a threat.
Canada can also refuse Khadr if he “left or remained outside Canada with the intention of abandoning Canada as [his] place of permanent residence.” That likely applies, too.
Bill C-5, currently before Parliament, would give Canada more grounds to refuse Khadr, too.
Canada must reject Khadr’s prisoner transfer. It is not in our national interest.
And it’s not in America’s interest either. How many Americans know that instead of serving seven years, he’ll be out in seven weeks? Do Tabitha Speer and her two fatherless children know?
Cannon may have made a promise to Clinton. But whatever deal he struck was done before all the facts were known — the evidence in the sentencing hearing was yet to come. The depth of Khadr’s depravity, and the testimony from the psychiatrist who interviewed him, had not yet been made.
If Cannon needs an excuse for backing out of his deal with Clinton, it’s a simple one: The depth of the national security threat posed by Khadr was not fully disclosed to him.
If Clinton doesn’t like it, that’s her problem. Khadr murdered an American, and an American court prosecuted him.
We’re a sovereign country, not America’s jail of convenience. Let Khadr serve his time in a U.S. prison, not on Canadian streets.