Canada’s crude awakening

Paul Wells on why unlocking Alberta’s vast petroleum riches will be anything but easy

Crude awakening

Darryl Dyck/CP

In hindsight, Stephen Harper’s new fight against the world’s oil sands detractors was a long time coming. Last November in Vancouver, the Prime Minister gave a local television interview in which he warned that “significant American interests” would be “trying to line up against the Northern Gateway project,” Enbridge’s proposed $3.5-billion double pipeline from near Edmonton to a new port at Kitimat, B.C.

“They’ll funnel money through environmental groups and others in order to try to slow it down,” Harper told his hosts. “But, as I say, we’ll make sure that the best interests of Canada are protected.”

In early November, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he was putting off final approval of TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline until after this November’s presidential election. Harper has long viewed Obama as an unsteady ally. Now he’d had enough. “I’m sorry, the damage has been done,” he told CTV before Christmas. “And we’re going to make sure we diversify our energy exports.”

Harper picked the second week of January to kick his game into gear. The government released a letter signed by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, warning of “environmental and other radical groups” seeking to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda”—by lining up to speak against the project at the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel environmental hearings.

Two days after Oliver’s letter, Harper welcomed Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai to his office to announce he’ll visit China in February. The Harper government is mobilized to make sure Gateway goes through, and it is using familiar tactics honed in three federal elections to rally public opinion against anyone who would stand in the way.

It is also being mightily helped by a loose constellation of staunchly conservative activists, operatives and journalists inside the government and outside it. Their guiding text is a book that has turned into a movement, the Calgary-born lawyer, Sun News TV host and all-around gadfly Ezra Levant’s Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands.

Levant’s thesis is simple enough: compared to most of the world’s oil sources, northern Alberta is a veritable bastion of stability, political enlightenment and environmental responsibility. It didn’t influence the Harper Conservatives in new directions so much as it put their long-standing convictions into words. Four months after the book was published in September 2010, Harper’s new environment minister, Peter Kent, began using the phrase “ethical oil” to describe Canada’s petroleum exports.

But Ethical Oil might have been nothing more than a book if Levant hadn’t won the National Business Book Award in May. The award was bestowed by a prize jury that included CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, and it came with a $20,000 prize.

That money caught the eye of Alykhan Velshi, 27, a Toronto-born lawyer who was coming off four years as a spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and two months as a strategist in the Conservatives’ election war room. Velshi figured he’d had enough of government, though not of politics. He told Levant that, in return for the $20,000 prize money, he would launch an Ethical Oil blog that would form the basis for a political movement.

Like a lot of blogs, Velshi’s had a button viewers could click if they wanted to donate some money. Ethical Oil’s donate button got a lot of clicks. By July Ethical Oil had released a suite of highly provocative ads, contrasting life in “Conflict Oil” countries—say, a picture of women being stoned to death—with life in Canada, illustrated by a photo of Fort McMurray’s elected Mayor Melissa Blake.

And by November, at almost precisely the moment Obama announced the Keystone delay, Velshi announced he was on his way back into government—in the Prime Minister’s Office, where he serves as director of planning, a role that combines long-term planning on policy and political strategy.

His replacement as Ethical Oil’s spokesman is Kathryn Marshall, a University of Calgary law student and former junior Conservative political staffer. On Jan. 2 she launched a new website,, which argues that “countless . . . foreigners from Europe to South America and a long list of foreign-funded lobbyists” are “hiring front groups to swamp the hearings to block the Northern Gateway pipeline project.” This one’s got a donate button too.

Both the Ethical Oil website and were built and maintained by Go NewClear Productions, a boutique ad firm run by Marshall’s husband, Hamish Marshall. Hamish Marshall used to work in Harper’s PMO. Go Newclear runs websites for several Conservative MPs. Its own website boasts it is “experienced in the development of both conventional and unconventional online weaponry” to “blow away your competition.” Its ads have aired “in both Canada and Australia” and its client list includes “expertise on social networking in Russia and Iran.”

Now the company is helping family and friends spread the message that foreigners must not interfere in Canadian resource decisions. Whose money is paying for the campaign? Ethical Oil’s website proclaims that, “Unlike most anti-oil sands organizations,” it “does not accept any money from foreign donors like Greenpeace International, the U.S. Tides Foundation or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The organization does accept money “from individuals and companies, including those working to produce ethical oil”—phrasing that appears to acknowledge Canadian oil firms are donors. The site says the “median size” of its donations is $38, an artful wording that reveals nothing about the size of its largest donations.

Ethical Oil, and Harper’s entire Gateway campaign, depend on delicate distinctions between what’s local and foreign. Many firms active in the oil sands have their headquarters in Texas, France, the United Kingdom and China. Canadian firms and Harper’s own government lobbied Washington for months on the Keystone pipeline.

Velshi declined a request for an interview. Conservatives familiar with Ethical Oil say his role in the PMO is broad and does not have anything directly to do with selling Canadian bitumen abroad. “I’m 100 per cent sure that there’s no coordination between Alykhan and Joe Oliver’s office,” one Conservative said. The connection is loose and cultural, not conspiratorial: “This government has narratives, and this”—the virtue of the oil sands, suspicion at the motives of its opponents—“is one of them.”

Indeed, one hardly needs to be plugged into the mains of Conservative power to share the government’s perspective. Calgary pollster Marc Henry found last autumn that 81 per cent of the province’s residents are “proud of Alberta’s energy resources” and that 73 per cent agree with the statement, “If it weren’t for Alberta’s energy sector, I wouldn’t enjoy the quality of life I do today.”

In pushing an Ethical Oil narrative for Canada’s oil sands exports, Harper is accomplishing two political goals in addition to his policy aims. First, he’s reassuring Albertans, especially in the oil patch, that he’s one of them. Second, he’s betting Canadians outside Alberta will side, in greater number, with the petroleum industry’s proponents over its foes. “This is us being pro-Canada, pro-middle class,” the Conservative staffer said. “Anybody who looks at this says, ‘Should we export more stuff? Should we diversify our markets?’ Of course we should.”


Canada’s crude awakening

  1. Go Harper! Build the pipeline …Start from Texas…by the time you get to Albert, Obama will be history.

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    • I can see you are right on top of the issue Ian. There is no issue with building the pipeline in the Texas wannabe province and Obama has no say there.

      Starting from Texas or anywhere else in the USA is the issue.

      It seems there are some stupid states with stupid citizens and stupid priorities that don’t want their water tables corrupted with oil leaks in between Texas and the province of Texas Wannabe.

      Not too much different than the land owners between Edmonton and the Pacific coast. Not to mention that not many west coast people are looking forward to their own Exxon Valdiz moments.

      Hard to whine about them damn easterners when it is Toronto born Harper leading the charge huh?

  2. Canadians should be very concerned about this federal government’s single-minded pursuit of economic development via the Alberta tar sands.  The International Energy Agency’s 2011 “World Energy Report” stated that “the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure,
    inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average
    temperature increases of 3.5 C“ 3.5 C translates into catastrophic global climate destabilization.  And yet the Harper government is tying Canada’s prosperity into that very same inefficient and high-carbon energy system.  This isn’t good for Canadians, only for their oil sands buddies.

    • Is that you Bill McKibben?   Last time I checked you do not hold a Canadian passport so perhaps you can focus on your dirty, coal-fired power generation that provides the U.S. with nearly 50% of its energy.  You know, the ones where whole mountain tops are destroyed to get at the brown coal – the slag producers where tons of it is buried in secrect locations because it is so toxic.

      • Hypocritical…sure. Don’t see Obama building a coal chute to the west coast to supply Asia’s growing addiction for coal though.

        • If you`re going to make an analogy, make a sensible one.

          The U.S. needs all the coal it has to power it`s power plants.

          China does import lots of coal to power their new power plants ( a new one every week ) —from Vietnam, Australia, etc.

          Obama rejects oil pipeline proposals for strictly political reasons—a common practice of those on the left—-no logic, just gut politics.

          • An environmental review is a legal requirement….and it can’t be done in 60 days….the amount of time Repubs gave him.

            His answer was a foregone conclusion….the only one he could make.

          • 60 days? He had THREE YEARS.

          • @facebook-1814899656:disqus 

            The final environmental impact report was released on August 26, 2011.

            That’s when the uproar in Nebraska started over the aquifer.

            So finally moving the route was proposed, and Nebraska would go along with that.

            That legally requires another study though…which can’t be done in 60 days.

          • We all know that the pipeline will be approved, and that Obama only delayed it so he could pocket more money for his re-election from the environmental lobby. We should sell our oil to China, I expect the us line would soon be approved if we promise to sell to them!

          • @ccaccb12a377a36e0743e9f79054c85c:disqus 

            If Obama just wanted big election bucks, he could get far more from the oil industry than he ever could from the environmentalists.

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          • LOL and you are tripping over your ideology again.

            You can’t serve both God and Mammon Calvin.

          • Actually the analogy if there was one was Leos…try him

          • Actually it was you who equated a coal chute from Virginia to Seattle with an underground oil pipeline in Canada.

          • Who me?  
            I was just pointing out that activists like Bill McKibben with 350 org and Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of U.S.-based National Resources Defense Council have sworn to shut down the Alberta oil sands period.  My feeling is they should clean up their own much ‘dirtier’ back yard first.

    • We are in a global recession.  Manufacturing is in the toilet.  How else are Canadians going to fund our social programs if we don’t use the resources we have at least in the short term?

      • The same way they do in Greece and Italy. Today`s selfish socialists are happy to pass on the mess to their sons and daughters.

        • We fund what we have on all the other income we’ve got…..not just on oil, which is only a small part of our GDP.

          Greece and Italy don’t have much else beyond tourism….they haven’t diversified and grown their economy.  We have.

          • Who’s we? I don’t need anyone hijacking my vote for their purposes.
            My vote went to Harper and still does. I know I’m not alone.

          • Look up the meaning of GDP.

            And what this has to do with your vote, I don’t know.

        • If we removed all the subsidies and tax breaks, aka corporate welfare, to oil and gas we’d have a lot more available to spend on social programs.

          • handouts instead of work     that always works

          • A society shall be evaluated on how it takes care of its weakest members.A.K.A Bobclark747 teehee

          • So giving handouts to already profitable companies is fine but to needy families is not? Big oil would be there with or without the handouts.

          • If we reduced all the welfare to people and refugees, maybe some of them would at least go to work and we would not need those social programs.

          • If we reduced all the welfare to JUST people and refugees, maybe the government could afford to invest in some REAL job creation…

          • If we removed welfare to criminals as a wage subsidy you could say the same. 

        • Does this mean that Alberta is governed by socialists passing on their mess to their sons and daughters? “It’s no secret that Alberta’s finances were mismanaged for years under Ed Stelmach and that the situation has only become worse since Alison Redford took office. That the richest province in the federation has the second highest per capita spending and is expected to run a $3.1-billion deficit this year, while depleting the reserves it had built up in good times, is a case study in fiscal mismanagement.”
          Jesse Kline, National Post · Jan. 20, 2012 

        • Calvin, you’d have a bit of credibility if your guy didn’t run up the debt by 25%

          That means that for the that $16,920.45 each Canadian owes, Harper spent 4K of it.

          Think about it. Every other PM in Canadian history spent 12k and you spend your time rallying against socialists!

          • If you relate it to the US per cap debt with Pesident Obama your PM looks like a genious

          • Good to see you are concerned by our debt, started by Trudeau and encouraged by several PM,s and some opposition Coalition of Losers.

            Your support will be appreciated in the next few years when the gov`t attempts to increase revenues by increasing exports while reducing spending in a strategic manner.

          • Canada started out with a debt in 1867.

            The US started out with a debt in 1776

            Stop blaming it on Trudeau, or socialism, or any other boogey-man.

          • —Wiki is up again—go back and check to see how Trudeau increased the debt by 11 times while he was PM. Since then future PM`s have only managed to triple the debt.

            Don`t bother reporting your findings.

          • @4a64130278c80432e4d05477e5ee5a66:disqus 

            Of course Trudeau increased the debt…we were still paying on WWII at the time, but it was very little….and we could well afford to upgrade the country….so we did.


          • Austerity? What austerity? I’ve heard a lot of TALK, but seen very little ACTION…

          • Be patient.

    • In the last year, under so-called “green” Obama, Union Pacific’s railcar loadings of thermal coal destined to China increased 271%.

      I don’t see any Americans lying on train tracks trying to stop the exports.

    • “Canadians should be very concerned about this federal government’s single-minded pursuit of economic development…” You lost me with your first sentence.  What sort of fool is “concerned” by their government’s pursuit of economic development? Are you really going to continue spouting off about how damn hot it’s going to be in 50 years. Do you honestly believe we can predict that? After all of the damage that has been done to the great climate con, you just drone on and on about how we should avoid becoming wealthy so our great grandkids won’t have to put in central air. 350? How about 650, so the plants can grow.

      • What sort of fool isn’t concerned about this govt’s mindless pursuit of economic development?

        What kind of fool can predict we will never spill a drop of oil off our west coast so let’s just go for it?

      • read it again.

        It says “single minded” in there.

        You are aware that almost 60% of the canadian population lives in ontario and quebec right?

        • Can tell by your ignorance that you live in Trawana.

      • Maybe “single-minded” refers to the lack of focus on any front OTHER than oil… A little more diversity would be much healthier in the long run. We don’t all live in Alberta.

    • I think we should be attentive to the possible “carbon bubble” that UK politicians and investors are examining [ see ].  Oil is a sub-prime asset.

    • If this 2011 report had been written by an environmental group, it might be easy to dismiss as scare-mongering. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) is independent. It was set up in 1974 by 28 nations with advanced economies wanting to address energy issues (prompted by the first oil supply shock from OPEC). Unlike the United Nations, the IEA cannot be accused of having a vested interest in climate change. If anything, it might be seen as a “brown” agency that supports the energy industry so that it can support GDP growth in national economies. That’s what makes this a pivotal report. that should be cited often, especially given the KeystoneXL and Northern Gateway pipeline proposals.“Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, said the findings underlined the urgency of the climate problem, but stressed the progress made in recent years. “This is not the scenario we wanted,” she said. “But making an agreement is not easy. What we are looking at is not an international environment agreement — what we are looking at is nothing other than the biggest industrial and energy revolution that has ever been seen.” (Source: )

      • Right, it has nothing to do with OPEC–little Christiana comes from BRAZIL.  Give me a break–independent!!  The UN IS NOT INDEPENDENT.

    • News flash:  The global warming hoax has been exposed, Canadians should be outraged that the biggest lie is in the form of a hockey stick. Until the hysterical chicken littles realize that the forces of nature control the earth’s climate and have for 4 billion years, they will continue to make absolute asses of themselves.  Do they really believe environmental  friendly toilet paper is going to stick it to the sun? 

      • Reilly is right everyone.Lets all litter,contaminate the water supply and drive a Hummer.After all theres no possible way humans can affect their environement. Is there?

        • Humans already litter (look outside your window and the slobs which are probably environmentalists pollute), contaminate the water supply (sewage emptied in the ocean in Vancouver) and drive a Volt (with exploding batteries made from oil).

          • I take it sarcasm is lost on you…

            Ziggy’s point, as I understand it, is that even if global warming advocates are wrong, our actions are still doing huge amounts of environmental damage and we should be looking for ways to reduce, not add to, that damage.

            I also think that, if we are to export the oil, we should be exporting finished product rather than unrefined oil. Keep all the spinoff work in Canada. Otherwise, it’s not just oil we’re exporting; it’s jobs.

    • Your name should be “350outburst”.  Where, aside from a fantasy climate model, did you get the data that allows such a smooth prediction of the future?  That’s pretty slick.  Can you tell me what stocks to buy?  Or perhaps you’re just repeating something you heard, with no critical faculties engaged, because it makes you feel better?

  3. It is time we make that decision…to tell americans that if they don’t want our oil we will sell it elsewhere…Time for Mr. Harper to stand up do what is best for the Canadian people…see how america does without our 200 million barrels we ship them every year….and to our eviromentalist friends…do you want more off shore oil wells??  Perhaps another convoy of trucks hauling crude everyday…we need to care about the enviroment and do it as safely and with as little impact on the enviroment as we can…but the bottom line is WE NEED TO JUST DO IT

    • Hmmm, so Harper’s against off shore drilling…that’s a relief, i was worried he was for drilling under our Arctic.

    • Who are they polling…the have-not provinces who use the proceeds from this dirty oil to fund their social programs…or perhaps the maritimes whose young people work in Alberta and commute home?  I understand people from BC having concerns over the pipeline but I question everyone else who is feeding from the trough.  Furthermore, the Keystone pipeline project would only have added ADDITIONAL pipeline to those that already exist.  That dirty oil from Alberta has been flowing through pipelines for years without any environmental catastrophies….funny how that is getting no press.

      • Lots of stories about leaks from Enbridges existing lines[ figure i heard was 800 of em] if you would but look a little harder. 

        • It is a lot easier to turn off a pipeline that it is to stop a truck from exploding.

          • True, but you might have several truckloads’ worth of leaks before someone closes the valve.

            There’s no easy or safe way to move it, but if we’re gonna move it then a pipeline is probably the better option overall. But we need very strong environmental protection laws, including a HUGE trust fund to cover cleanup costs that will survive any bankruptcy or other measures that would otherwise leave us taxpayers on the hook.

    • That is only the poll from the Liberal Party of Toronto.

  4. I love the way we assume that if the US doesn’t take our carbon-intensive oil, that China will be happy to do so, and won’t discount it a penny due to its high carbon cost. I guess this is based on the assumption that the whole world will have to meet Harper’s demand that there be no carbon tax, ever.

    Sure, that will work, and the silly Chinese will be forced to do whatever us shrewd Canadians want them to do, at whatever price we demand. Sure. Take that Obama.

    Truth is, Harper and the Tea Party radical republicans that support him and the pipeline the US, got their asses handed to them by Obama on this.

    • Suuuuure he did…..the three most empty words ever muttered by a president of the U.S. ‘YES WE CAN” Record unemployment, check, record debt levels and rising, check. Telling the population that the U.S. will be weened of Middle East oil within ten years…Yeah right, Hugo Chavez and the Saudi Prince are doing handstands in the street laughing their heads off.

    • Actually, Obama got his ass handed to him by Robert Redford who reminded him exactly who is running the “Obama re-election show”.  Don’t you recall that Obama actually supported the Keystone pipeline until Redford and a few of his friends showed up on the hill?

    • Oil sands oil is NOT particularly more carbon intensive than the majority of the new oil developed in the world.

      The majority of the new oil everywhere tends to be heavier and sour and more expensive to extract.

    • Oil sands oil is NOT particularly more carbon intensive than the majority of the new oil developed in the world.

      The majority of the new oil everywhere tends to be heavier and sour and more expensive to extract.

      • “Oil sands oil is NOT particularly more carbon intensive than the majority of the new oil developed in the world.”

        Bzzt! False. 


        You can bury that useful lie along with Iraq’s WMDs, global warming denialism, Tony Clement’s non-participation in G8 largess and “evolution is just a theory.”

        • Did you read the report you linked to?

          Oil sands is more carbon intensive, though the report you link to analysis is a well-head to refinery analysis. This type of analysis does not account for carbon emission from the burning of oil. A well to wheel analysis is a better methodology to use when looking at carbon emission for oil that is going to be used primarily as a transport fuel.

          Production of oil produces the minority of CO2 emission (from the linked report ” Extracting, transporting, and refining crude oil on average account 
          for about 18% of well-to-wheel”). Average oil sands emission are around 550kg CO2e per barrel. Light sweet crude is generally around 460kg CO2e per barrel. Heavy oils from Mexico and Venezuela are around 530kg CO2e per barrel. Light crude from Africa often has higher carbon intensity because of infrastructure inefficiencies. Well to wheel oil sands is 20% more carbon intensive the easy oils to extract, 3% more carbon insensitive than common heavy oils. You can derive these number from the report you linked to, or can find the number in numerous journals.

          So the statement “Oil sands oil is NOT particularly more carbon intensive than the majority of the new oil developed in the world.”  in my opinion is correct. Oil from Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, and US Golf cost are at best 10% less intensive and at worst equivalent or slightly more intensive.

          • Of course I read the report, but I don’t buy your way of looking at the data. You’re saying that oil is such a carbon-intensive fuel that if we include the burning of the oil in the calculation, differences in extraction disappear into the averages.

            I suppose that might be a worthwhile point of view if the Tar Sands didn’t represent a huge and growing fraction of Canada’s total CO2 output. At that scale, we have to address extraction efficiency. That report shows Tar Sands CO2 emissions per barrel to be 430% higher than the most carbon-efficient field.

            Our government clearly intends to ignore environmental damage in favour of continued growth. It has to come down to market pressure to force Tar Sands development to clean up its emissions (to say nothing of the moonscape they’re building in Northern Alberta).

          • Fair enough about the lack of pressure from the government to push industry in the right the direction. I disagree with their strategy of playing the rhetoric and half truth driven game that some of their opponents have played (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Earth First). I think it will back fire and further polarize the discussion on the oil/tar sands. There is a harder middle road strategy that would have a regulatory push (dare I say intensity based targets) and include less rhetoric about the opponents to development, that I would like to see.

            I do disagree about not using well-wheel analysis. This type of analysis shows us where the highest utility is to be had in reducing CO2 emission, vehicles efficiency / reduced consumption. Also a well to refinery analysis fails to factor in the emissions from distribution. Distribution plays a huge role in the average emission in the North American market. The statement made was that oil sands are on the same level for emission when compared to new developments. Most new developments are not easy to extract light crudes; they are offshore (Brazil), heavy (Mexico, Venezuela, Iran), or lack efficient infrastructure and regulation (Nigeria, Russia(flaring)).

            While I agree that oil sands are the fastest sector emitter of CO2 in Canada. I do believe there is much lower hanging fruit to go after in terms of emissions. Oil sands emission are around 40Mt a year (~8% of Canda’s 500Mt), the emission from electricity generation in Alberta alone is 50Mt a year. The ability to displace emissions from electricity is far more easier than it is to displace emission from production and use of transport fuels with the technology of today.

            I am not arguing that better extraction efficiency should pursued further (extraction efficiency has increased significantly for the last 30 years). Or that mining of the oil/tar sands should occur unabated (SAGD is the primary extraction method, >75%, now not the strip mining that is always see in pictures. Also the area of strip mines is not much bigger than the city of Edmonton, about 0.5% of Alberta’s area, not small but far from the exaggerations of Mordor being built in the north). I believe that there can be a reasonable path forward developing the oil sands, that is neither what the conservative or green are proposing.

            Though there is still lingering question that I have hard time dealing with, primarily with regards with the amount inertia that oil sands represent.

          • Ow, you broke my stereotypes.

            I’m not entirely convinced on well-to-wheel analysis, but you make a solid case. And distribution, oy. It kills me that we’re importing crude for the sole purpose of diluting bitumen so it can be transported elsewhere for refining. At the very least, we should refine it in Alberta for the sake of efficiency, emissions and jobs.

            Ultimately I think we’re aligned – I don’t oppose oilsands development (though I struggle with the question of inertia as well), but I’m dismayed at the no-holds-barred, no-compromise approach by a government that should be more nuanced than this.

    • Well, some of the pro-pipeline folks on here like yelling about North Korea; maybe we can sell it there. I don’t think they’ll be worried about carbon taxes. ;-)

  5. I do not know why Canadian politicians and public  is upset over keystone rejected.  It saved thousands of high paying upgrader jobs from being shipped to US.

    On the other hand I fully support the enbridge pipeline to west coast. The reasons are:
    1.  It does not ship jobs with it , rather create job in Alberta (and BC) with Chinese investment.  All the upgrading will still be done in Alberta.  Keystone pipeline is primarily aimed at moving upgrading job to US by retrofitting old refinerires.
    2. Diversifies our customer base thus less fluctuating demand
    3.  Allows us to get real price of our crude.  Some of you may not be aware that Alberta Crude gets less dollars than international market price.

    • Those are all valid economic arguments – i believe opponents have others.

    • Although Enbridge’s documents are ambiguous about the pipleine’s contents, news stories say the Northern Gateway pipeline will carry bitumen. Nobody is building any upgraders, as far as I know. Therefore it will export as many jobs as Keystone XL.

      Both pipelines start from Bruderheim.  There’s a clue as to the contents.

    • Ummmm, those Texas refineries were designed to use heavy crude, from Venezuela. Oil sands crude is similar, ever wonder why CITGO is one presenting on Gateway? Hugo will lose on market share, if Canadian crude is shipped. CITGO IS Hugo’s national oil company. DUH!

  6. Harper is accomplishing two political goals in addition to his policy aims

    Nope, he’s just accomplishing one; picking a scapegoat so he doesn’t take the blame when he utterly fails to sway global opinion with these silly little domestic propaganda exercises. This is nothing more than a rehash of what he did with the seal industry. Anyone who has followed up on what has happened since he and his cabinet made a big show of scarfing down some seal meat a couple of years ago will know that the situation has only become worse for the industry; Russia has since joined the ban and the much touted China deal vaporized.

  7. Paul, you should acknowledge the bloggers whose research results you are using here.

    • I’ll acknowledge the bloggers who’ve been on this story in a separate post, but my sources for everything in this story are Conservatives I interviewed. 

      • OK. I’m glad you are writing about this. As an Albertan who remembers when we had good governance under Lougheed, I think it is insane for Alberta to rely on one boom and bust resource for its economy, and ten times as insane for Canada to do so. We have got to think more about the future and using less oil.

        • Well, McCains is here, Holly. We do ag in a big way, but strange – we don’t do cars or trucks. Why not? We could out produce on milk and dairy products without eastern milk cartels setting prices and gasp quotas. We just got rid of the CWB mafia, so wheat futures might get a boost from higher prices instead of imposed prices through those commies. The Koreans just opened the door to bovine products again, at least until some marginal, cut throat dweeb get’s caught trying to sell some road kill.

          Tell me, what else does Alberta produce that will pay the public sector wages and pensions, raped from us from those CINO’s in Edmonchuk?

  8. I’m looking forward to the day when the pipes break or the tankers crash and the oil spills out all over the place and we’ll have to clean it up. That will create even more jobs!! Go Harper!

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Ah yes, the old, “if you use any amount of oil you must be in favour of any and all oil-related developement” bit of wingnut  “logic”. 
        Likewise, if you’ve ever defecated, you can’t object to me crapping in your kitchen sink.

        • LOL


      • :) Thanks for the reply Turd, I appreciate your comments.

  9. I don’t follow the strategy of ‘Ethical Oil” in Canada (maybe it has some impact in the US – but most people who are informed on this issue aren’t fooled).

    To what end?  Can someone make the case as to how the Ethical Oil campaign in Canada accomplishes anything, other than keeping its supporters constantly angry?

    • You should be angry Dot – “rethink Albetra” was a smear campaign full of mis-information, and shown all over the world.  We need to get the facts out.
      “This attempt to stir the ghosts of nationalism on both sides of the border misses the main difference between the opposing sides of this issue: Promoters of oil and gas development are in the business of creating jobs; radical environmentalists are in the business of destroying them. Moreover, the source of radical funding is less important than the fact that environmental groups have engaged in massive — and successful — campaigns of disinformation and often outright thuggery in pursuit of their anti-development goals.
      Don’t just follow the money — expose the hysterical misrepresentations and the tactics.
      Nobody is arguing against a balanced and responsible approach to development. The problem is that the radicals in question have no interest in such an approach.”

      • Nobody is arguing against a balanced and responsible approach to development.” 

        That is exactly what Harper and the other “ethical oil” liars are arguing against. Where is that “world-class” monitoring system they promised to put in? How can it be world-class when Harper is cutting Environment Canada staff who do some of the monitoring we need such as ozone?

        They should take Lougheed’s advice and slow down the tarsands development and regulate it much better. The Harper Conservatives have been useless and destructive. 

        They have just turned all of BC against them with Oliver’s stupid letter; someone equated that dumb act with Trudeau’s NEP turning Alberta against the Liberals. A fair comparison in some ways.

        • Environment Canada is being told to “monitor” the Tar sands in concert with the Alberta provincial government. But the provincial side is denying access, thus effectively blocking any real “monitoring.”
           In the old days an EC manager/scientist would be able to go to the press with their concerns and the resulting publicity would unblock the dam and let the information flow. But their has been a gag order on EC scientists ever since Harper took office. Speak out on this and it’ll cost you your job and you will undoubtedly be smeared as a left wing Liberal rogue agitator. You’ll find yourself not only unemployed, but possibly unemployable.

           The Liberals may have been bad, but they allowed the system to “breathe”. 

          This Conservative lot are a whole new breed of suffocating ball crushers and the fear and discord they will undoubtedly spawn will swirl into a big shitstorm somewhere down the road. There will be an environmental spill, or big health issues with long term ramifications that shortsighted fist slammers just don’t foresee. 
          This is the kind of thing the “turds” of this world mistake for solid leadership.

          bon appétit 

          • So the sawmill explosion will not cause big health issues?  Give me a break, there are so many pipelines now in B.C., the environmentalists are talking through thru behind.

      • “Promoters of oil and gas development are in the business of creating jobs; radical environmentalists are in the business of destroying them”
        When did two wrongs ever make a right?
        That one wont even fit on the bumper of a hummer Leo. Who wrote that insightful slogan… let’s take a peek. It’s got to be Foster or Rex? Voila! Surpised! Not!

  10. …median donation is $38…

    What an odd amount to donate.

    • $62 kickback after charity receipt issued.

    • Median. So you line up all the donations in order from lowest to highest, and pick the one smack in the middle. So if you had donations of $10, $20, $35, $38, $1,700, $2,500, and $15,000, the median donation is $38.

      • Yes.  I know how a median is determined.

        Who would donate precisely $38?

        You are in front of your computer and you decide to support this radical, ideologically driven cause.  You click on the DONATE button, and start filling out the form.  But now, how do you decide how much to donate?  $20?  Maybe even $40?  Well no, $40 seems a bit much, seeing as I would still like my Second Cup coffee today – I know!! – $40 minus the cost of that coffee, so $38 it is.  Brilliant!

        Btw, Dot, below,  seems to have caught on.

        • Data set: 35, 40
          Median: 37.50
          Round. 38.

          • That’s the mean, not the median. Your previous explanation of the median was right.

          • What’s the median of a two number data set?

    • Hey, Wikipedia is back up! Choose your answer:

      38 is the 11th distinct semiprime and the 7th in the {2.q} family. It is the initial member of the third distinct semiprime pair (38, 39).

      38 has an aliquot sum of 22 which is itself a distinct semiprime In fact 38 is the first number to be at the head of a chain of four distinct semiprimes in its 8 member aliquot sequence (38, 22, 14, 10, 8, 7, 1, 0). 38 is the 8th member of the 7-aliquot tree.

      38! – 1 yields 523022617466601111760007224100074291199999999, which is the 16th factorial prime.

      There is no answer to the equation φ(x) = 38, making 38 a nontotient.[1]

      38 is the sum of the squares of the first three primes.

      37 and 38 are the first pair of consecutive positive integers not divisible by any of their digits.
      38 is the largest even number which cannot be written as the sum of two odd composite numbers.

      There are only two normal magic hexagons, order 1 (which is trivial) and order 3. The sum of each row of an order 3 magic hexagon is 38.[2]

  11. Let’s get this straight. Prime minister Stephen Harper and his oil booster, Kathryn Marshall, of Ethical Oil claim that unconventional bituminous crude from the Alberta tar sands is more “ethical” than is conventional crude oil from Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries that are undemocratic and trample on the human rights of their citizens.  

    Besides the illogic of attributing moral behaviour to an inanimate object like  oil — a bit like calling a Chiquita banana chaste or promiscuous — let’s just assume for a moment that Harper and Marshall are talking sense. 

    So, Harper and Marshall propose that Canada export “ethical” oil via a Keystone XL pipeline to oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico owned by Saudi Arabia and then have the Saudis re-export “unethical” oil back to Eastern Canada. Oh dear! We are getting mired in yet more logical fallacy. How can Canada’s oil be both “ethical” and “unethical”? 

    Then, we have the Northern Gateway pipeline through which Harper and Marshall propose exporting  “ethical” oil to China, a communist police state with one of the worst records for abuse of human rights in the world.  Presumably, without developing our own refining capacity, some of this oil will makes its way back to Canada as “unethical” oil. 

    On top of this we have sold-out the tar sands — a strategic resource — to Beijing without any regard for the national interest and energy security of Eastern Canada.  But according to the drivel of Harper and Marshall these Chinese foreigners are OK and not radical.  It’s just Canadian citizens and charities with some foreign money that disagree with rapid expansion of the Canadian tar sands that are to be dismissed as extreme radicals.

    Quite frankly, as a conservative middle class Canadian, I resent Harper’s xenophobic nationalism, ill-considered propaganda, and abdication of his responsibility to develop a a national energy policy that considers the best interests and security of Canada. And I strongly oppose the Northern Gateway project, which, given that I have no foreign money behind me, must make me a “free radical”. 

    • This comment was deleted.

      • I’m an Albertan and I remember Trudeau. He was an arrogant asshole sometimes, but he brought in the Charter of Rights and we owe him. Harper is a much poorer PM and is doing harm to Canada.

        • And considering how many Albertans today were born in Eastern Canada, you should stop with the bigotted divisive crap. Albertans are Canadians just like maritimers, Newfoundlanders, and others east of here.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • That abusive drunkard did not speak for most of us.

          • I remind you of your Albertan history.  Well within my lifetime Alberta was the welfare bum of Canada supported by Eastern Canadians.

          • Lay off Ralph now, the guy’s not well.

          • He’s probably getting better care than many Albertans with the same medical problems.

        • We owe him for the charter of rights??!!    YGBK

      • I did live in the West while PET was PM .  I moved to AB in 1972; my real estate agent explained to me that Western alienation was rooted in the dust bowl.    I was still in Alberta when there was an oil glut in the eighties and the price went from $35 to less then $10.  Pierre Trudeau’s NEP was bad, but the collapse of  world price was worse.  But who cares, it’s so much easier for a politician to stir emotional bs – so go for it Turd.

      • The same folks who are still crying about the NEP being implemented against their wishes by easterners, are now the easterners who don’t see anything wrong with shoving a pipeline down the throat of those to their west.

        • ……you better explain what that means

          • No habla ingles?

        • This comment was deleted.

          • ” jobs and wealth for B.C.”

            Which, after the construction phase, amount to a salary total of about half of what the CEO of Magna took home last year.   And that’s according to Enbridge’s CEO.

          • Or a little more than half of Gazebo Tony’s slush fund.

      • Yes, yes – we know all about your separatist leanings. Grudge much?

    • I assume then that you have no problem with blood diamonds as they too are inanimate objects. The connection you fail to make ( or more likely are ignoring) is that buying oil, or diamonds for that matter, from tyrants and despots serves to increase or maintain their control and supression of their citizens. You are predisposed to oppose the pipeline regardless of the benefits its creates in the long run. I suggest you demonstrate your committment to an oil & job free economy by going off grid, soon.

      • Oh, i thought it was to invest in their development and well being – i seem to have got my neo con TPs mixed up.

      • Then shame on Canada for importing any heinous unethical oil.  Why are we supporting tyrants and despots in their quest to increase and maintain control and suppression of their citizens? 

    • Read the constitution – the real one – it say right there in black and white AB can do whatever it damn well wants if it can get enough investors to say so. There also seems to be a more recent pencilled entry – Steve Rules Suckers!

      Well said.

    • Well, you can spout all of this stuff you want; but just imagine our country and the economic hard times there would be if we did not ship any oil…….
      As has been stated, every province in Canada benefits from the “ethical” oil from Alberta (and soon Saskatchewan who has twice as much in the ground).   Imagine the deficit this country would have if there were no oil workers, or oil companies, or the ripple businesess that come from this resouce, paying taxes.  So far  as I can see there is not another industry out there that could absorb the hundreds of thousands of workers that would be unemployed. 
      So I suggest that though we all know we have to do our part to keep our enviroment clean, perhaps some thought should be given to how our health care, natives claims, pensions and much more would get paid for if half the working age population was unemployed. 

  12. The last thing we need is for Canada to be a petro-state.

    Being one has been a disaster for Alberta, so let’s not spread it around.

    • This comment was deleted.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Oil is always in a boom and bust cycle….it’s just that every time there is a boom,  people like you assume it’s here to stay.  How many times are you going to make that same mistake?

            If you’re not saving money now, and diversifying your economy, you won’t in some mythical ’50-75 years’ either.  Petro-states slide into the ‘live it up today’ mentality.

            Yes, we have replacement energy now….and it’s basic economics that people will seek a cheaper better replacement.

            Ontario isn’t dependent on cars….our economy is diversified.

            However….cars themselves aren’t going away….their fuel is.


          • This comment was deleted.

          • No reason for the manufacturing of them to go elsewhere.

            No, you won’t invest in anything beyond your petro-state. I wish you joy of it.

            Others however are switching over.

            You remind me of the people who said nothing would ever replace horses.  LOL

          • Dear OE1, you are far too rational bytimes, but this time, wrong.

          • You might WANT me to be wrong….but I’m not.

          • So a pathetic web page with a few paragraphs of government PR and no information is your proof that hydrocarbons as fuel is going away soon?

            Unlikely that hydrocarbons as a transport fuel are going anywhere soon. The energy density of batteries is still far to low to displace fuel (Li battery ~1MJ/kg vs 45+MJ/kg for Diesel and Gasoline, factoring in efficiency it is still greater than a 15:1 ratio). Batteries are still far too expensive, the Tesla Roadster has batteries cost more than $35,000 USD, Volt’s batteries cost more than $16,000. Memory effects that slowly reduce battery capacity is another major issue with no commercialized solutions yet. Then there is also the issues of charging times, 30+ minutes at a charging station with 3-phase high current power (Tesla 53kWh battery), 1/3 – 1/4 of day with 240V single phase (Tesla 53kWh battery). One also has to consider the huge consumption of hydrocarbons via long-haul trucks, airplanes, ships, and trains where it will be even harder to electrify. Only the last of these has had any success in being electrified (though fairly limited when it comes non-passenger transport). EV have a long and tough road before they start to curb the demand for oil.

            One day the majority of the light vehicle fleet will be electrified, but I am willing to bet it will not be in the next 20 years. It is very likely that the effect of EV, hybrids, higher CAFE standards on curbing oil demand will be erased by growth in China, India, and the rest of developing world. I would think that Alberta has plenty of time to sell its oil.

          • ???

            No, it’s just a statement of intent and direction

            I realize you want to pooh-pooh all this to suit your own agenda, and convince yourself of a glorious oil future.

            However, the majority said horses would never be replaced either.  Too many problems, too costly, people would never accept it…

            And when they trotted along the road and discovered an early car that had stalled, or gone in the ditch….they’d yell  ‘Get a horse’….and laugh.

            We know how well that attitude worked out.

          • You really like to project things onto people. I have no agenda to support hydrocarbons other than to maintain my quality of life. What I gave you are a few of the reason why EV have a long way to go. These are hard scientific and engineering reason as to why EV are long ways away. As for statement of intent, well we all know the value of those.

            Also I did not argue that EV are not the future, just that they are long ways away. This opinion is shared among DOE, MIT, CALTECH, Deutsche Bank, ect.

            Also the first cars showed up in the 1890s, it will not until the 1960 that cars per capita came close to what they are today. It took 70 years for the car to reach the penetration they have today.

            So can you bring some facts to this debate? Maybe all you have is some myth that modern car displaced the horse in 10 years and some statements of intent…

          • When people promote oil as the energy that will be used for years to come, I assume they have a personal reason for doing so. Why else would you bother arguing about it?

            Cars can run on a lot of things….gas, electricity, steam, alcohol, fuel cells….and all  the things beyond gas are being experimented on now.

            The 1890s was a very different world than what we live in today….the rate of change is accelerating, so the old timelines are no help.


            I’m not debating ANYthing….if you choose to believe nothing will change, that’s up to you.

            I’m simply pointing out that change is the one thing you can count on in life….and history is littered with people who refused to accept that.

            “Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments,” Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus, A.D. 10.

            Irish scientist, Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793 – 1859) didn’t believe that trains could contribute much in speedy transport. He wrote: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers ‘ would die of asphyxia’ .”
            In 1894, the president of the Royal Society, Lord Kelvin, predicted that radio had no future. The first radio factory was opened five years later. He also predicted that heavier-than-air flying machines were impossible. Today, there are more than one billion radio sets in the world, tuned to more than 33,000 radio stations.

            In 1894, A.A. Michelson, who with E.W. Morley seven years earlier experimentally demonstrated the constancy of the speed of light, said that the future of science would consist of “adding a few decimal places to the results already obtained.
            “I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years … Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.”  Wilbur Wright, 1908
            Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
            The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.
            Albert Einstein, 1932
            There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.
            U.S. Secretary of Navy, December 4, 1941
            No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping.

          • Again with your projections. I promote oil as energy because I want to have the ability to travel, to have goods from around the world brought to me, ect. Oil right now and for the near future is the only viable option for this. I would like to see it come from low carbon sources but non of these are viable, scalable, or cheap enough right now. Not to mention that energy storage has a long way to go. So yes I have personal reason to promote inexpensive energy, not oil in particular.

            “Cars can run on a lot of things….gas, electricity, steam, alcohol, fuel cells….and all  the things beyond gas are being experimented on now.”

            Have you read anything on this subject? Are you seriously promoting steam and hydrogen as viable alternatives? Steam unlikely, unless you are for nuclear powered steam cars? Fuel cells, garbage, total cycle efficiency of less than 25%. Alcohol, niche other than high performance racing cars. There are only 3 fuels for cars that affordable and scalable at the moment: petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. Maybe you have some information on something else (note Magnesium + Oxygen powered cars also a pipe dream, poor total cycle efficiency)?

            “The 1890s was a very different world than what we live in today….the rate of change is accelerating, so the old timelines are no help.”

            So you are a Kurzweilian (sorry could not help projecting). I find it ironic that you are trying to label me dogmatic while pointing out accelerating change. I would argue that it is dogmatic to believe that moors law (not a law) will continue with exponential growth. That accelerating change is a constant that can solve all of our technical problems. Battery technology has not experienced exponential growth in terms of the metrics of MJ/kg, MJ/$. Neither has solar tech. Accelerating change is nice platitude, but it ignores the details.

            “I’m not debating ANYthing….if you choose to believe nothing will change, that’s up to you.”

            Okay call this conversation whatever you want then. As for me believing nothing (again projecting), I would think that my response show otherwise.

            As for the quoting of various people through history, it fails to tackle the issues. I accept that major changes happens to technology and scientific understanding. Also that predicting the future is a crap shoot. Though I believe that we should use are understanding of the world today as the best method to predict the future. With this understanding most analyst believe EVs are decades away from being the majority.

            Pulling a quote from one scientist, inverter, or admiral? fails to express the thoughts of the much larger scientific or expert community. These quotes are also often pulled out of context and misquoted. (e.g. Bill Gates 640k memory quote).

            Also your quote are wrong, it was Lord Kelvin who made the quote about the last few decimal places being all that was left to do in physics. Though one should read this quote in context, the quote was made in 1894 when Lord Kelvin 70, and not active with in physics of the day (ultra-violate catastrophe).

            So I ask again do you have information that I can work with to convince me that EV revolution is near other than myths, statements of intent, or platitudes. I am willing to accept that breakthroughs can happen that change everything, but we must work with what know and what is happening. Counting on breakthroughs to solve today challenges is like buying lotto tickets as a retirement plane, possible but unforeseeable.

          • Yes, I’m conversant with this subject.

            I said nothing about ‘promoting’ anything….I told you we know of a variety of things that cars can run on.

            I said nothing about ‘moors law’….actually it’s Moore’s Law

            I also gave you some quotes, and pointed you to a Wikipedia entry about accelerating change….something extrapolation never takes into account.

            You don’t like my quotes, find your own.

            It’s not my job to convince you.  I’m neither a teacher nor a salesperson. Nor do I argue for the sake of arguing.

          • A mistype/misspelling on my part, also it is Tanagra not Tenagra.

            From what you write I would argue you are far from being conversant about this conversation. I am thinking your knowledge of basic physics is questionable. 

            You gave some example of what cars can run on but no information if any of these fuels can displace petroleum. I would think this information is poignant to a discussion on the future of Alberta’s oil.

            Moore’s law is central in the thesis of acceleration change, it is fair to mention it.

            I do not really like quotes, they are vapid and uninformative. I would think you could understand this as the self proclaimed matriarch of rationality on

            “It’s not my job to convince you.  I’m neither a teacher nor a salesperson..”

            I do not understand this statement. Then what is the purpose of your comments?

            “Nor do I argue for the sake of arguing.”

            One needs to only look at your history of commenting to see that this is false.

          • LOL yes, it’s certainly ‘poignant to a discussion’

            This is a comment section…..this is a comment.  It is not a salescall.

            You do, however, have the monopoly on pointless arguing.

            Buy all the buggy whips you want, I don’t mind.


          • LOL yes, it’s certainly ‘poignant to a discussion”

            I do not get it. Maybe I am wrong but I thought poignant can be used as an adjective, meaning of intense importance to. Even if I am wrong about the wording you still failed to argue the point. Instead you rely on an ad hominem attack on my intelligence.

            “This is a comment section…..this is a comment.  It is not a salescall.

            You do, however, have the monopoly on pointless arguing.

            I guess you use the comment section as pageant for your ignorance on one of the most important and relevant subjects of today.

          • LOL ‘one of the most important and relevant subjects of today?’

            Only to oil people.

            Like I said….Ciao.

          • The future of energy is of great importance to everyone on this planet, are you arguing otherwise?

            Oil people? Who are these oil people? The ones who drive cars and trucks. The ones whose goods are moved via trucks, airplanes, trains, and ships? The ones who good are made of petroleum derived materials? The ones who use diesel to run generators to provide electricity. The ones who use oil to head there houses. The ones who crops are grown using petroleum power machinery. Yes we oil people are a select few…

          • But you’re not talking about the ‘future’ of energy…’re telling me it will be oil and only oil….for all time apparently….and that there is no possiblity of change.

            Which ends any contribution you can make to this thread.  Obstinence.

            So like I said….buy all the buggy whips you want.

            And this is the last time I’ll answer you…I’ve already gone over my patience-limit.  LOL

          • Did you read any of my comments? What I said that the transition to non-hydrocarbon fuel is going to be difficult and most likely a long transition. I gave some reason as to why I believe this and why many others believe this going to be the case. Oil in my view and in the views of others will play a central role for a significant time to come. That during this time Alberta will have plenty of markets to sell its oil to. I made no mention of the impossibility of change, I mentioned that change is occurring but incrementally. That breakthrough can happen but should not be relied on when predicting future energy use.

            “Which ends any contribution you can make to this thread Obstinance”

            I fail to see that. I have given what I believe are valid scientific and engineering reason as to why I think Alberta has large period of time to sell it oil. I would think obstinance would be providing non-sequiturs and random quotes.

            “buggy whips”

            Yes I already discussed the myth of 10 year car transition. Again, I am not denying that EV are the future. I am making the case it will be some time till they are majority of vehicles.

            “last time I’ll answer you”

            We will see about that,

            Ciao x3

          • Gee, Turd. Where is the fastest economic growth in Canada occurring right now? Hmmmm. What? Toronto? Couldn’t be…they have no sludge! 

            Stick to metal, Turd. It’s doing so well for you.Every advanced economy, save Canada and the US is going full bore on sustainables. China leads in solar, Korea in wind,  A/NZ next. We’re losing a battle here, because of the lack of will to invest in the future. Oil will glut, prices will bottom and Alberta will whine for $. Rinse, repeat, etc.Sucks to be us, sometimes. What with our 1st world probs n’ all.

  13. You’re missing a big part of the story. There are additional connections between the Conservative government and Ethical Oil.

    Go Newclear’s other two principals, TV & Radio specialist Brendan Jones and developer Travis Freeman are both connected to the Conservative Resource Group PR machine. Jones was with CRG up until starting Go Newclear, while Travis Freeman, astonishingly, is still with CRG.


    Also, two of the Go Newclear websites happen to be for none other than Joe Oliver and Jason Kenney. All of this implies possibly more co-ordination than reported so far.

  14. “Levant’s thesis is simple enough: compared to most of the world’s oil sources, northern Alberta is a veritable bastion of stability, political enlightenment and environmental responsibility. ”
    Plausible, even simply true until you start to look beyond the merely obvious and draw some other inferences.
     First off the main fallacy rests on the law of supply and demand…the world’s demand outstrips supply and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So, what’s the point? Noone’s going to displace Chavez’s oil or Irans or make the Saudis stop funding madras simply because Obama or China buys more of AB’s oil – it’s simply silly. 
    Second but still relevant point, many of the players in AB are also the very same folks who are not doing enough to make the rest of the worlds oiligarchies ethical. Sure, there are real world obstacles to having “bastions of stability, political enlightenment and enviromental responsibility” all over the world, commonly known as corrupt govts; but spare us the sanctimony Ezra and oil boosters pleeeease; the notion that say Shell’s hands are simply tied in Nigeria and that by coming here they aim to promote “ethical oil” while contnuing to do business as usual in Nigeria is quite frankly a revolting one.
    I buy the continental security of supply argument to some extent and the real ethical one, but all the rest is simply fugitive emissions escaping from Ezra’s rear end.
    I’m not at all surprised that this govt would glom onto such a profoundly unintelligent thesis, and not at all surprised that it works so well as a popular piece of political propaganda. Cartoonish works and boy do they do cartoonish well!

  15. Read the constitution – the real one – it say right there in black and white AB can do whatever it damn well wants if it can get enough investors to say so. There also seems to be a more recent pencilled entry – Steve Rules Suckars?

    Well said.

  16. Oh, i thought it was to invest in their development and well being – i seem to have got my neo con TPs mixed up.

  17. Radical leftists and naive enviros may only constitute a small percentage of our population, however with the help of a sympathetic and equally naive media and education system, they do have considerable influence.

    So maybe it is time to shut down the oil industry, reduce the flow in pipelines to a trickle, cut back on all industry.
    Let`s try that for a few years—-now because of the considerable reduction in gov`t revenues we will also have to cut back by as much as 50%, the budgets of gov`t depts. such as Health, Education, Native Affairs, E.I. all social programs, as well as CPP and all Public Pensions, etc.

    Or we could just ask the people what they would like to do.

  18. How about we use our ‘Ethical’ oil IN CANADA and stop importing oil from all those ‘Unethical’ countries???

  19. “In pushing an Ethical Oil narrative for Canada’s oil sands exports, Harper is accomplishing two political goals in addition to his policy aims… Second, he’s betting Canadians outside Alberta will side, in greater number, with the petroleum industry’s proponents over its foes. “This is us being pro-Canada, pro-middle class,” the Conservative staffer said. “Anybody who looks at this says, ‘Should we export more stuff? Should we diversify our markets?’ Of course we should.”

    I buy that. A little while ago polls in BC showed support for a tanker ban at 80%, so politically he had to do something to move those numbers – he probably will. So demonizing the radical enviros makes sense particularly in BC where a lot of people will buy into it. He has to make realistic arguments that move enough opinions. Harper knows he doesn’t need them all, just enough to make this issue more competitive. He’ll probably succeed to some extent.
    But i doubt if they are reading the BC public well . Sure they like the idea of jobs and investment, but many ordinary BCers are also deeply attached and emotionally connected to the notion of wild BC the best place on earth, or however the slogan goes – lots of conservative voters too.
    My sense he’s going to lose and lose badly by attempting to divide BCers on this question. It’s a funny place BC if you really know it, but one thing they love is their idea the place is wild and pristine. They may not like the idea of foreign radicals and money influencing their province, but neither will they like the idea of an AB based PM bullying and demonizing its citzenry or an AB based industry arrogantly assuming that BC should take all  the envromental risk and “foreigners” almost all the economic upside.
    It;s a funny place BC.It’s not just like AB fine though that province is And demonizing foreigners can cut both ways.

  20. True enough article, thanks. Up front is Redford’s push for a new national energy program.  One thing is sure; if Conservatives want a new program your prices go up!

    Notably in this case, Alberta charges natural gas by the BTU while other provinces charge by the cubic meter; the same measurement they buy it at.

    The BTU  measurement does not equate to the meter cubed. It is a higher cost.

    The Conservative long term goal is to charge all energy at the BTU rate.  This means real questions have to be asked when for instance you plug in your car.  Is it less expensive to plug it in or is the better deal have the car auto start every 3 hours over night.

  21. Fort Mc Murray’s 60 or so oil services companies, I think two took my resume, don’t employ workers who don’t already live there.  There is no warning about this.  I would’ve hit Banff during the day instead if I’d of known.  There are many dictatorships where you have freedom of mobility.  I slept on a hill in Cgy though and still worked no prob.

    • Obama should stop those trains.  As well, the US should stop using coal for electric power generation.  Canada should also stop burning coal for electric power generation but the Harper government is doing all it can to permit a brand new coal fired plant in Alberta.

      This makes no sense.  If Canada would move forward on eliminating coal, the country could earn support for the oil sands.  The country has lots of cheap, clean natural gas to use for power generation but fails to use it.

      Coal must have the power of God supporting it.

  22. I’ve been watching this issue for quite sometime and keep waiting for “one of the wise” to notice that Canada and the US have a deal called NAFTA and that under that deal we can never sell them less oil than they are buying from us…even if we need to go without for our own domestic use. Given the shakey state of their finances, does it not make pretty serious long-term sense to divesify our market? Even if the envirobots kibosh The Kitimat route, Enbridge (oops, Kinder Morgan) is talking about twinning the existing Alberta/BC line…with a bigger pipe…in my view both would be good and as time goes by perhaps a refinery as well to export finnished, value added, product. But please let’s not let economic reality and realpolitik sully our beautiful green dreams.

  23. Perhaps increasing Canada’s exports of synthetic crude is not in the best interest of our long-term energy security.  As shown in this article, it is unlikely that oil sands production levels will ever reach the levels proposed by Enbridge, making it more likely that Canada will have to import increasing volumes of oil:

    Canada’s domestic energy security should be prioritized above pipeline profits, transient job creation and energy security for both China and the United States.

  24. The US would rather keep on starting wars and killing for there oil and canada should just keep are oil is that so bad! And we wont kill you for it!!!

  25. Instead of exporting crude, refine it in Canada, and export the finished products – which is probably cheaper in shipping the crude by pipeline.

    • you will still need pipelines to ship the finished products in the volumes you are talking about.

      Alberta has the ability to fine tune valued added upgrading and mining with the ability of taking the royalty on bitumen in bitumen.  After project payback, the royalty with be 25-40% depending on the oil price, so Alberta has retained the ability for Alberta and Canada to have all the value-added industry from oilsands that it might want in the future

  26. Yawn, Ottawa journalist are still pretty much useless, uhg you guys/gals are so predictable.  Now to be fair Paul, your writing is alot better then the rest of the PPG(even tho you are pretty much spinning the same narrative as everyomen else in the PPG)…

    Back to reading Jackie MacMullan) once again knock it out the park, this time on Rob Ninkovich.  A real writer, sadly it is sports related…

    PS:Congarts Paul on your Promotion.  Best of luck, glad to see back blogging more and stirring things up…

  27. This has been well covered elsewhere, hasn’t it?

  28. “If it weren’t for Alberta’s energy sector, I wouldn’t enjoy the quality of life I do today.”

    This type of comment from your average joe from the Alberta oil patch kind of reminds one of the Afghan poppy farmer who says, “Well hey, I’ve got a family to feed.”

    Tar sands / opium tar … not much difference !

    Ethical, my butt ! 

  29. Let’s see 50,000 or so First Nations people with a few million dollars between them vs a billion Chinese with billions of dollars invested. Let’s see were Harper stands on human rights when these indigenous people demand their rights.

  30. “If you have non-consensual sex with a person who is passed out drunk, it is more ethical than simply raping them while they are awake. You know, because they don’t remember it, they won’t be as traumatized by it, so it is MORE ethical.”

    THAT is the thinking behind “Ethical” oil. It is nothing more than ethical rape.

    • What if she is your GF who has said yes to your advances a hundred times and no only 3?  Does advanced warning matter much from a legal prospective?

      • Uh… No means No. After the No, it’s rape no matter how many times she said Yes in the past.

        But we’re getting off topic…

  31. It is President Obama   But hopefully only until next year.

  32. CBC asks Kathryn Marshall of whether she receives funding from Enbridge. 

    Hilarity ensues:

  33. When the slightest curb of fossil fuels is suggested a list of products made from oil is often posted.  AB should diversify to value added and probably lower footprint (rail, trucked) exports before the big oil machine inevitiably loses to a mostly globalized and increasingly better educated voter base.
    Roll-to-roll manufacturing still has issues with wear and expensive metals.  I briefly manufactured shingles in Cgy from resins; a much more labour-intensive supply chain.
    Polyether ether ketone, looks good.  It could form the casing for medical implants and equipment (careful cuz USA is temporarily overusing some equipment).  Or electronics casings for a telework hologram generator, or a pocket flu test.  OLEDs look good and complement the NNI in Edm.  Everyone will wake up to their own wallpaper and IRs (at least where hydro or wind) will make their own greenhouse veggies, next generation.  The internet killed big oil’s media monopoly (in USA).  Petro is over already in the future.  But AB can still diversify to a pre-recession Ontario standard of living, for the future.  Or save the money like Norway.  Or buy up some bioplastic players like dying sector leaders never do.  There are petro drugs.

    • Pardon! :)

    • Don’t get me started on the value-added aspect.  Nova Chemicals was a prime example of this but stupid Stelmach refused to help them out at the height of the financial meltdown so the U.A.E. snapped them up for US$6.00/share!!!!

    • …forget CVD furnaces.  An imput is a hydrocarbon gas, methane or something else.  Surely is fierce market against China.  I guess the heuristic would be to first invent or buy the patents of, an improve furnace topology; lesser methane needed or a better hot-filament geometry that makes more coating area….I’d guess natural gas would be enough of an advantage…a problem might be wage inflation if furnaces located in Cgy/Edm metro.  If you really want to grow AB so it can take fed power without telling lies, give the carbon tax to value added manufacturing (manu is usually labour intensive).  Canada has good demographics so will be steady stream of workers.

  34. How about diversifiying Alberta’s oil to Eastern Canada. It is rediculous to be importing oil when we can supply ourselves.

    BC will not allow the pipeline to Kitamat; the risk of an oil spill is to great. It is not whether there will be a spill but when!

  35. This here socialism thing seems interesting. How dare those Norwegians tax over US$570 billion from the oil companies. Why can’t they be more like the capitilist Albertans who in the same period of time have guaranteed the future of their population and province by saving………..??? Nice to believe the American oil companies are doing you a favour but after 40 years shouldn’t Albertans be giving their collective heads a shake? Congratulations Alberta, you guys have done really well.

    Plastic batteries researched at U of Singapore.  Carbon nanohorns seem important to me.
    Financial Post is lamenting TCP’s portfolio and stock price, but the company would have three times as many wind turbine projects with a carbon tax.  Canada’s many hydro interests (better in a pandemic than coal (wind great and geothermal best), which means rich people keep their crap) are harmed by no carbon price, but don’t get front biz page coverage.  Over the long-term, would want to diversify at least the petro revenues coming from gasoline, electricity, maybe home heating.

  37. The Rise of the Canadian Right!  Right on Canada and go Canadian Ethical Oil!

    • the rise of the greedheads. didn’t your momma teach you any better?

  38. Again if the oilsands were in Ontario or Quebec there wouldn’t be one environmentalist upset.  This country is pathetic!

    • Wow. How little you know…

      Unlike Albertans, we aren’t all sharing the same brain cell.

  39. Yeah! Let’s build a pipeline from the Great Lakes to Fort Mac! Water is in short supply and what they have ,there is toxic! Go…uh…The Right!

  40. The west told the east to freeze in the dark. Can the east tell the west to parch in the dust? Not that it would. Like, ever.

  41. Sick that Harper and all the organizations pushing “Ethical Oil” can use any “foreign interest” money to push their agenda while attacking environmental groups for some donations that aren’t Canadian. The point isn’t even about where funding comes from but how much damage this pipeline will do and whether the end results are worth it. Canadians are standing up and speaking out against this one: multi-national corps be damned, Harper gov’t be damned, China be damned, Albertans be damned: we do not want this pipeline in B.C. and anywhere near our coast!

    • ”we do not want this pipeline in B.C. and anywhere near our coast!”

      Too late Norain1
      There has been Alberta crude flowing from Edmonton area to Burnaby BC since 1966,
      via Trans Mountain Pipeline,  and it is going to be expanded to carry another 400,000 barrels per day….. Alberta oil loaded into tankers and sold to Asia.

  42. Canada Offers U.S. Peace On Earth
    It was reported that at the compound where Osama Bin Laden was silenced forever, there was blue print plans of middle eastern refineries, oil supertankers, and nautical charts of shipping routes found all over the place. As of 2012 American taxpayers have gone into debt for trillions of dollars and sacrificed hundreds of thousands of human lives, with millions more mutilated, tens of millions families homeless already in order to “protect the American people”. The U.S. currently spends seven times more than China on military weapons, and accounts for close to 43% of the total of global military spending.Does anyone know where America’s enemies submarines are today, or tomorrow?Can the American economy withstand a $300.00 to $500.00 per barrel of oil shock right now, or at anytime in the near future?How much longer do Americans have to live in fear, and reduce government spending on education, healthcare, and domestic infrastructure?Whose side are American politicians and environmentals intent with culling our species on anyways besides military weapons manufacturers? Why wasn’t this pipeline built 10 years ago?How many young Americans, and Canadians sent into foreign lands would be alive today, how many trillions of taxpayer debt would of been avoided, would the Gulf Of Mexico disaster even ever happened if the pipeline was already built?

  43. To run a pipeline through BC is insane. There are earthquakes, avalanches, mudslides, rock slides and swift high water floods, which could wipe out a pipeline. Each and everyone of those disasters are real. Many, many times, our highways are taken out, because of mother nature. Enbridge has had 804 pipeline spills, within the last ten years. They have a gas leak into the Gulf.  They had a 1,500 barrel spill in Wrigley N.W.T….At the time of the fires in Slave Lake.  They also didn’t bother to clean up their mess, in the Kalamazoo River. That in turn contaminated, clean underground water and other streams. Eventually the leached poison will go into the sea, as all pipe spills do.
    The dirty oil tankers from China, will have to navigate one of the most treacherous seas in the world. Port Kitimat is on the Northern coast.  There are hurricane force wind warnings every other day. 40 to 50 foot waves. The channel narrow, the tankers massive. The tankers have to make hairpin curves. It is difficult to navigate those seas in good weather. In bad weather, forget it. There have been numerous ship mishaps. Ships run aground, tanker spills, another rig explosion. There is still oiol gathering on the rocks, from the Valdez spill over 21years ago.

    Along that channel, is where our beautiful Orca Whales live. Their numbers now starting to pick up, with baby Orca’s. The Humpback Whales live there too. There are thousands of wild marine species, in that channel.

    Also along that channel are, the last Rain Forests.  That’s where the Spirit Bears are, and the unique small wolves are. There are numerous wood life creatures in that forest.

    P.M. Harper and Gordon Campbell thieved BC right down to the bare bones. They frantically worked hand in hand to financially destroy our province, before that scum of a Campbell got booted out, for his corruption and thefts. Harper and Campbell illegally forced, the HST onto the BC people. Campbell’s election lie, the HST wasn’t on his radar means, that s.o.b. Campbell and Harper’s part in the HST, is very well remembered. Campbell’s other election lie, the BCR wasn’t for sale. He thieved and corruptly sold the BCR anyway. Campbell is Harper’s favorite henchman. That scums reward, for doing Harper’s dirty work was, the High Commissioner post to England.

    People from all over the world, come to Bear watch and Whale watch. A spill of any kind, will threaten the F.N. food supply.  It’s bad enough, Harper and Campbell’s filthy diseased fish farms, are killing the wild salmon. This is also a staple for the F.N. people to feed their family’s. Campbell’s theft and sale of our BC rivers, has wiped out important salmon runs. If you can imagine, BC’s rivers have dams on them. A damned eco disaster, and raises our hydro, up to 53% higher. Bears, eagles, wolves, and many other wildlife creatures depend on the salmon. 61 bears were shot in BC. The salmon depleted, they came into towns for food, human garbage food, and they were all shot.

    Not one damned word from Harper, as to how a spill will affect the F.N. I guess that’s just too damned bad for them, and the rest of the BC people.

    Harper has a very shady political past. Harper is a Reformer, and founded the Northern Foundation Party.  this was in 1989.

    You should also read: Harper gives a speech in New York, at the Council of Foreign Relations.  This was, Sept. 25/2007.

    You can also read: Harper gives a speech, on global governance for Canada.

  44. “I’m sorry, the damage has been done,”
     Yes, and by Harper alone.
     How utterly stupid, could you be, putting Canadians in such a DEBT-crisis, that now you have to lay-of 68,000 fed-jobs by 2013 ?
     Oh ya, that’s becuase, there was NO REAL CONTRACT with Americans. The Americans “sucked” us into this deal.
     There was a reason America conquered a country with the 2nd largest Oil Resereve’s in the World.
    Why would they even want to buy our Oil, destroy their landscapes (like we just did), when they have it ALL for Free now ???
     Yep, Harper already paid for this Pipeline investment, with our Pensions, Environment, Health-Care,….Jobs,…
     It’s over kiddies, we got “conned” -it’s as simple as that.

  45. Why are all the nations governments so afraid to invest in a green power, everybody knows that the environment is at stake, hence making the next few generations of humans a lesser chance of a future…

    where’s the compassion for life ?

    we should be rich in spirit…to hell with financial gain where it means loss of life….

    I personally would pay extra for a healthy future for my kids, and their kids, and their kids….

    think about it with your heart, not your greedy little minds !

  46. Big money will trump the quasi environmemtalists every time. Oil is the foundation of our economic system. The byproducts of which are found in medicine, manufactured products and energy conduits. We cannot get on without oil, its jobs. taxes and basic warmth for out homes.

  47. Even the natural gas companies states side at least are cutting back on their production. Why?
    Economics … simple at that.Over production of a commodity leads to lower prices to the point where it is no longer profitable for the producers.When will Stephen Harper, Levant and conservative “put all our eggs in the tarsands basket”
    learn this simple lesson in basic economics???

  48. Should we export more stuff? …. Of course we should.
    Hewers of wood; drawers of water … and only the multinationals and taxman win.
    Is this a “national strategy?” Is this a “policy” for sustainable, intelligent, technically diverse growth in the future?
    Looking at the surface, all I see is Stephen Harper pushing money towards his primary constituency, foundation and banker for his power trip: Big Oil.

  49. Harper, why don’t you apply to the USA to become the first Governor of the new member State known as Canada. You are very interested in ruining the Globe by emitting green house gases into the atmosphere. You are still a Reform Party policy man who will use the backdoor to bring in the subjects you as leader of the reform Conservatives denounced as no longer on the table. So keep up the good work of ruining Canada & the demise of the Globe.

  50. Yes ‘ethical oil’ that will destroy the largest ecosystem in the arctic, namely the  Mackenzie river system and the Mackenzie river delta stone dead.The needed water for this steam injection process will suck the river system dry, how ethical!
    Piles of sulfur that would bury the city core of Edmonton laying for years leeching into the water system killing off wildlife and sending the incidence of cancer skyrocketing in downstream communities, how ethical!

    They are just getting started in the TAR sands, if they can’t manage it now what will it look like after feeding these mega pipeline projects for 50 or 100 years?

    Fix the issues and then go ahead with the capitalist feeding frenzy, but fix the issues FIRST!

  51. While I can certainly sympathize with Alberta’s pride in its resources and its desire to see them brought to market, I cannot sympathize or condone a narrative that tries to conflate opposition to the Northern Gateway project with “foreign interests” and all the dark and shadowy influences that is supposed to suggest. This is but one more example of wedge politics and it does a great disservice to the real debate which is what should Canada’s energy strategy be in a world where there is a growing awareness of the problems of fossil fuel emissions not just in energy generation and production, but also in consumption.

    And while we may not be near a situation where international markets are drying up for oil or non-conventional oil (like say, the possible collapse of the seal market that is facing Newfoundland) it makes sense to be talking about future strategies. This approach does neither. This is not leadership.