Canada Minister: Opponents To Tar Sands Are Foes Of Canada

Joe Oliver, Canada's environment minister

Ahead of today’s hearings on the controversial Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver called opponents to tar sands development foes of Canada who undermine national interest.

Oliver’s unexpectedly frank open letter charged that environmental groups attract “funding from foreign special interest groups” and draw “jet-setting celebrities,” referring to donations from U.S. charitable foundations. His flippant treatment of tar sands opponents highlight the divide between national self-interest and environmental concern on the issue:

These [environmental] groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further.

Now, the pro-oil sands group Ethical Oil is seeking to ban all foreigners from the discussion. An Ethical Oil spokesperson bluntly said, “Foreigners and their foreign hired hands should butt out.” However, many foreign companies are involved in the tar sands and the issue reaches far beyond Canada. NASA climatologist James Hansen has said if they are developed as planned, it’s “essentially game over” for the climate.

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