Friday, November 7, 2014

Beware The 'Great Men' In Our Midst

Were he perceived throughout the country as the legendary Canadian he is in his own mind, I'm sure that former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna would be lauded far and wide for his insights and advice. Yet the current Deputy Chairman of The Toronto Dominion Bank, board member of Canadian Natural and shill spokesman for the oil industry does the interests of neither Canada nor the larger world any benefit when he extolls the virtues of the Energy East pipeline, as he does in his platform of choice, The Globe and Mail.

Entitled Energy East is truly in the national interest, his piece enthuses over the impending evolution of our country's economy, thanks to the Energy East pipeline, which will transport untold barrels of Alberta tarsands crude to the east coast for refining:
At its core, Energy East intends to transport up to 1.1 million barrels of Western Canadian crude to Eastern Canada per day. It means the conversion of 3,000 kilometres of underutilized natural gas pipe and the construction of 1,600 kilometres of new oil pipeline, primarily in Quebec and New Brunswick.
But wait! There's also untold prosperity accompanying tarsands bitumen down that pipeline:
In fact, according to a report by Deloitte, it’s estimated that the oil sands will create $2.1-trillion in economic benefits across Canada in the next 25 years, including more than $780-billion in taxes paid to the federal and provincial governments.
Had Globe subscribers not yet had the opportunity to don their Depends, I hope they took a few moments to compose themselves before continuing on:
In fact, Energy East changes the game for the entire oil-and-gas sector in Canada. It’s good for Alberta, opening up access to domestic and world markets. It helps Eastern Canada rid itself of its dependency on foreign supplies of oil that often come from countries with considerable instability and values that are not ours. In addition, there are significant benefits for all provinces in terms of job creation and badly needed tax revenues.

The one thing missing from this ad for unbridled development, of course, is any acknowledgement of the catastrophic consequences that any further exploitation of fossil fuels will bring, as outlined in the latest UN Climate report.

Perhaps this Globe online commentator best puts things into their proper prospecitve:
It is truly shameful that the Globe and Mail in running this op-ed did not disclose that Frank McKenna is a member of the Board of Directors of (and presumably receives compensation from) one of Canada's largest tar sands companies.

And as for his thesis. Sure, the tar sands may bring $2.1 trillion in benefit to some Canadians. But as long as the destination for the carbon in those 175 billion barrels of tar is the global atmosphere, the costs to the world (of which Canada is still part) will be immeasurably greater. How our so-called leaders in the corporate sector and media can be incredibly selfish and besotted with short-term wealth defies belief.

Or to put it even more succinctly: When you cut through all his rhetoric, former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna winds up being nothing more than a shill for Alberta tarsands and one gravely inimical to the world's prospects for long-term survival. Hardly a Canadian icon, no matter what he may think.

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