Saturday, 21 February 2009

The New North American Villain

For years now, Canada has been seen as the enlightened one of the two huge North American countries. Whilst Bush was busy invading the middle east, locking people up without trial and trashing the planet, Canada was this fluffier, liberal, almost European haven across the USA's northern border.

Times change. Now we have that nice Mr Obama in the White House (well relatively nice, I notice today he still refuses to grant Bagram Airbase inmates proper human rights for instance), but his attitude to climate change seems a welcome world away from that of his predecessor. Meanwhile Canada under the Conservative Prime Minister Harper is pressing ahead with what is arguably the dirtiest and most damaging single project on the planet - the huge scale extraction of oil from the Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta.

Last night (Friday) I attended a well attended and inspring meeting organised by Manchester Friends of the Earth and the Co-operative. It featured Jack Woodward, Canada's top aboriginal lawyer and legal council to the Beaver Lake Cree Nation; Jack spoke eloquently about the massive damage being done to the boreal forest there and to the lives of these First Nation people. And from a planetary point of view the exploitation of these tar sands could alone add 64 ppm to global CO2 - the single largest carbon emitter in the world; further information here on the lawsuit where the Beaver Lake Cree are taking on Albertan and Canadian Govts., and the multinational oil giants.
The Co-operative Society, based of course up here in Manchester are running a toxic fuels campaign on tar sands and oil shales.
Attendance at the meeting was about 70-80 and it is good to see Friends of the Earth in Manchester in such good health; they had seemed a bit quiet recently.

Finally, returning to the North American climate villain charts, of course the USA isn't off the hook: where do you think all this oil is heading?...

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