Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CRUD OIL

DATELINE: ALONG THE NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE ROUTE, DROWNING IN DILBIT -- It is hard to believe that this is possible, but then again, we are living in the world of Stephen Harper, so nothing should amaze us anymore. The federal government has approved Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline. It's amazing how easily bought politicians can be when there is big oil money on the table.

Let's play a game. Let's say we all live in the Mount Royal area of Calgary -- we all come from old money and live in big houses. It's a great life. We have beautiful parks to play in, we spend hours soaking up the sun, we live the high life with everything we want right within our grasp. We are in paradise.

Then one day one of us discovers that by opening up one of the parks -- just one of them -- so that the local sewage rises in great bubbling delight, easily accessible and available to all of us, he can solve all the world's problems. This one person tells us that they have made a startling discovery -- he has learned how to turn this effluent into food that he can then export to all the starving people of the world. It will be a wonderful thing, because it will create jobs because other people will want to learn how we do it. It will boost the economy, put the people who aren't working into gainful employment, and will fill an international need for jobs and food.

None of the rest of us are totally pleased about the smelly mess, and many of us have our doubts about what this might precipitate, but it fills needs, so it must be a good idea... plus we can all make a little coin in the process. We learn that there is a flaw in the plan -- that the bacteria found in the effluent isn't totally removed from the finished product, but we tell ourselves 'what's a little bacteria in the grand scheme of things' and continue to act like this is a wonderful plan. The money we're making proves that.

Some of the water of the coast of BC where large tankers are expected to
navigate. This is one of the four most treacherous water passes in the
world, and has some of the most protected, pristine species in the world.
We then discover that the effluent, while in a quasi-liquid state, won't move down the pipelines we have built, because it is just too thick and sticky, so we add some chemicals to it -- some naptha, perhaps some of the chemicals and ingredients used to help get the effluent from the ground, like arsenic and strychnine, but we really aren't allowed to know what exactly is used to help make the effluent flow. We see evidence of how it eats through the metal of the pipelines, but we tell ourselves that's just the cost of doing business, and when it lands on the ground at one of the spills, we pretend that it really isn't such a big deal, even though those things added to it to make it flow (and that eat the walls of the pipeline) have now contaminated the land, the water and the air all around the spill. It really isn't our concern that no one knows for sure how to stop the leaks, especially when they happen under water, or how to clean up the mess so that the land and water can be reclaimed. After all, it's not in our backyard, and we still have water and food to eat... and money still rolling in. Secretly, though, we shudder at the realization that the bacteria-filled effluent is now being used to water the crops and livestock in the area so they too will be contaminated from it, because the people who live there have no idea what they are doing, and if they do, they have no options because there is no other source of water.

People along these pipelines start to get sick. They get aggressive cancers and ulcers. They find it hard to breathe and they bleed when they go to the bathroom. They can see effluent in their water, but still they are told that it's not a problem -- they just have to trust us, because we would never lie to them, especially while we are still raking in the money. Scientists and medical specialists start to point to the effluent, saying that it is making us sick, so we make laws that say they cannot speak about it anymore... because the money is now flowing like never before, and we have actually convinced people that they NEED our effluent. They WANT it, both the money from it and the jobs it will create to put the pipelines through their towns, because there is really no other source of food for anyone. They have heard the stories about the heinous diseases and sickness associated with it. They have heard about the waterways that are destroyed, and the wildlife and plant life destroyed, about the homes that are inhabitable and standing empty for years because no one can return there; the air, like the water and the land, is toxic from all the things put in the effluent to help it flow down the pipelines. None of that matters, though. They have been told they need this, that this is the holy grail for society, that with this pipeline all their worries and needs will be solved and they too will live in paradise.

If this was a children's story, it would be totally unbelievable. A child would laugh at the stupidity of it, mocking the possibility that people would actually allow something like this to happen. These are educated people, smart people, who plead for shit to be pumped over their land, spilled on their land, and injected under their land. There is unrefuted evidence that the chemical cocktails used to extract and to move this shit cause cancer and cause death and destruction to people, plants and animals, and that it makes the water completely undrinkable, yet they still want it. They have evidence that the scientific community and the medical community have been legally silenced, and that the exact details of what is in the chemical cocktails are kept secret by law to protect the companies making them... yet they still want it. They logically know that the huge number of jobs is a gross misrepresentation, that the jobs will be there for one year, or at the most two, then will be gone because once the pipeline is built, there is no need to build any more... yet they choose to ignore this fact as well, because the shit is manna from heaven.

Yes, I drive a car. If I could buy one that ran on something other than gas, I would. As it is, my vehicle is parked 27 days out of the month. Yes, I know that we need oil for plastics and manufacturing, and we probably always will need oil, but there are safer, better, cleaner ways of getting it, and we all know that. There are incredibly innovative programs and plans, some proven and in use already, but we all want one solution that is 'easy'. Wind generators are ugly (but greasy smelly oil derricks are not?) and they don't work where there isn't wind (well, duh) so they are no good. Scrap that plan. Solar energy is good, but expensive (how much do you think the pipelines, the tar sands and all that goes along with it costs?) and won't work where there is limited sun, like in the north, so let's scrap that entirely as well. Sadly, this innovation and research would put many more people to work, for a lot longer, than any pipeline will, but we don't want to see that either. I suppose it doesn't really matter anymore, though. We have come so far, and are so hoodwinked by politicians and their campaign-funding oil chroneys, that the damage is done.

It is a very sad day when the government of a country sells out it's people. it's health, it's food supply, it's water and it's ethics for the sake of a pipeline that has been decried by experts in every field, from around the world, as a disastrous project.

My friends in the United States, please please please understand that it is NOT oil that will be pumped down those pipelines. It is NOT crude. It is dilbit, a cocktail concoction that eats at pipelines, that cannot be contained when spilled, that cannot be stopped once it is in water or land or the air (the chemicals, when a leak occurs, leach into the air making it toxic). Spend some time looking at the dilbit disaster that is still ongoing in Kalamazoo four years, and $1B after the fact. Understand that the driving force behind the politicians and the oil companies is that they are making not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars while you are taking ALL the risk as their poison, their shit, moves across your land. Please take some time to learn about what is involved with this process, and what harm it does, and what jobs it will truly create. Weigh their gain against your loss. Research the number of leaks that have occurred in these pipelines, and the damage done -- you will be amazed at what you have not been told, and at the lack of commitment and honesty shown by the oil companies, especially when money is on the table. You still have time... not a lot, but enough that you can stop this stupidity from going any further into your country. Canada once was a paradise. Don't destroy yours as we are so intent on destroying ours. Don't risk another dance with this devil.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

We're On The Eve of Destruction

DATELINE: IN A FRONT ROW SEAT FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF DEMOCRACY – By May first – in 32 days, for those of you without a calendar – the Fair Elections Act will pass in Canada. Well, ‘pass’ is a rather inaccurate term, as it will be more a case of it being shoved down our throats, not unlike hemlock in ancient Athens. Of course, the title of the bill is akin to referring to laws regarding rape as the Demand for Love Act. You can put lipstick on a pig, but… well, you know how that one goes. Of course, the Harper Conservatives don’t see it this way. Nooo, they see it as the only way possible for them to win another election – by hook or by crook, as they say. They will steal the House of Commons, because there is NOTHING that is more important to Stephen Harper than being Boss.

Never in the history of Canada has one party changed the rules of election without thorough consultation with the other parties and without agreement from the heads of Election Canada. That is because we are a democracy, and the prime tenet of a democracy is the ability to have fair, honest elections. Without that, democracy is a farce, a cheap fa├žade worn by power mongers who give not one single damn about the people who elected them, and who care even less for those who did not. Of course, there is the valid argument to be made that the current government, the one making these changes, is illegitimate anyways, and God knows this is not their first ‘never in the history of Canada’ achievements.

They were the first government in Canada to be found in Contempt of Parliament. That alone should have been signal enough to the electorate, but what did Harper do? He prorogued parliament in order to avoid scrutiny or asking questions (another first). In fact, he prorogues Parliament whenever the kitchen gets a bit too hot for him. His was the first government to set fixed election dates then was the first government to break that rule as well. His was the first (and second) election in Canada’s history to involve voter fraud – fraud that WAS determined to be committed by the Conservatives. In fact, this government’s record for respecting and working within the bounds of democracy is absolutely abysmal, the rules of democracy and elections discussed by them with derision, offering more than enough proof that they cannot and should not be trusted to unilaterally change the way in which they are elected.

My rage about this, however, is not at the Harper government any longer. That rage is pointless. I have written to the Governor General – a textbook definition of ‘waste of time’ since Rideau Hall is so far up Harper’s anal cavity that they have given up polishing those austere marble floors anymore and have just accepted the brown slime on said floors as a byproduct of Harper’s ravenous appetite. It’s understandable. The man gobbles up people and poops out oil – well, dilbit, to be exact, so undoubtedly they believe the floors of the GG’s mansion to instead be christened with black gold. Certainly the perks and benefits received by the government of the day, including the GG, have that rancid stench of oil clearly attached to them.

I have written to every member of the Senate. When the Fathers of Confederation dreamed up this country, they saw a bi-cameral house, where no one side could run amok with the country they so lovingly created. The Senate was to be non-partisan, a home of the wise, the worn, the well-seasoned, who would provide sober second thought and stop any monkey business should the government of the day attempt some. It’s as if they had a premonition of Stephen Harper taking a chainsaw to their glorious architecture, and wanted to have checks and balances in place to stop it before it could happen. Of course, they didn’t see that corporate greed and obsession for power would override absolutely every other principle involving government, or that their beloved Senate would be completely bastardized, turned into nothing more than a house of government whores working for a pimpish PMO.

My rage is wasted on Harper. It will change nothing. He is what he is – another in a long line of megalomaniacal (misogynist) power mongers, who dreams of more authority every night, and works for more money in his bank account every day… and the people of the country (and the country itself) be damned.

So, what can we do? Do we sit back, raise a glass to the Canada we once knew, and thumb through boutique catalogues from new corporations like Surviving Hitler, or Fascism International, hoping to find something we can use to make our ‘new’ lives more tolerable under this new regime? Our middle class has been decimated, our upper-class has been more empowered, and as we all sink to the depths of the impoverished and enslaved, we find out that this very oppression is what will prevent us from having a right to vote. Harper is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will crown him king of his own country in time. Is my explanation extreme? Perhaps… for now. Give the man some time.

Instead, I now ask ‘What the hell are the other parties doing about this?’ Well, I do see some of them on television, arguing the bill, but so what? What are they going to do? When it comes to stopping it, they are in the minority. As government representatives, they are completely impotent to stop this train wreck, and it shows. Flapping lips; sinking ships. I am astounded and dismayed at their lack of actually ‘doing’ something. I have waited for over a month now for them to figure it out, but it seems they just can’t. Party alliances – partisanism – runs too thick in their blood, and the need to be ‘in charge’ is too all consuming for them to be able to see beyond the trees. Because of that, all of us, and our country, and our country’s amazing stellar reputation hang in the balance.

Instead of sending out emails every fecking day of the week asking for more campaign money because ‘we have to collect more than the other guy’, how about doing something to educate the people across this country? How about doing something to organize them? Media pundits say that the public is lazy and indifferent. No, assholes, they are not! They do, however, need some guidance to get organized, and the word has to reach people who don’t have computers in their homes (yes, there still are some, and they are the ones who will be disenfranchised the most from these changes). Why are the local arms of the political parties not getting out there and talking about this to everyone? Why are they not in front of the media locally? Why are they not holding town halls, sending out fliers, AND talking it up on the social media and every other place possible? Why are the provincial arms of the political parties doing nothing like this to inform and organize? Why are the federal offices doing nothing? This is not a time to JUST sit in front of Robert Fife, Rosie Barton or Evan Solomon to pitch the same party lines and listen to the same BS spewed by Conservative members who have no intention of answering a question or providing an explanation. Is it up to just the likes of Katy O'Malley and Andrew Coyne to try to explain what is at stake here? Why are the parties doing more? Well, because they can’t go into those election coffers to spend money prematurely on THIS because then what will they campaign with next year.

This is no longer a situation where political dichotomy can rule the day. WHY ARE THE PARTIES NOT JOINING TOGETHER IN THIS FIGHT? That’s where my anger is. Get the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens together, because the stakes are pretty fecking extreme. Show the people of Canada that you can work together, that you DO care about Canada. Forget raising money for the next election, because if this bill passes, the next election is moot. It’s like saving money for a child’s college fund, then watching that child die because you didn’t want to spend the money saved for college on the medicine he needs now. Canada needs the medicine now! 

There was a time when Canadians were proud of what we did. We were the peace brokers, the calming influence. If there were elections to be held in other countries, where democracy wasn’t as entrenched in their psyches as it was here, WE went to help, to oversee, to teach them about the beauty of casting a ballot, knowing that it was done on a fair, level playing field. Canada, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day, but like Pompei, the Canada we know can be wiped out in one fell blow. For us, it will be Mount Harper that will be our demise, and I have no doubt that he’s up to the task. I only wish our opposition parties were as well.

Canada is under attack… from within.