Header photo by Hamish Grant. Used with permission.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who's a Bigger Global Threat: Saudi Arabia, Iran, China or Canada?

I love Canada, but recently I've considered removing the Canada flag from my backpack. 

Canada once boasted an international reputation for peace keeping, foreign aid and kindliness. These things no longer define our nation.  Our deplorable environmental policy does.

On Monday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced that Canada will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.  Environmental organizations agree that this target is too weak to stem climate change. 

The climate crisis issue resonates most strongly in Alberta, home of the tar sands. British writer George Monbiot accuses Canada of becoming a “corrupt petro-state” and a greater threat to global peace and security than Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, thanks to the tar sands.  This troubles me.

This is exactly the international image Prentice is trying to avoid.  Prentice reacted against the negative “perception of the oil sands” in Canada and abroad.  While he affirmed Canada’s ongoing commitment to the tar sand development, he noted that he would fight internationally to reverse these negative views.

Impossible.  Tar sands development and ecological consciousness are mutually exclusive.  Prentice cannot have both.  No amount of PR will make the tar sands more sustainable. This contradiction speaks to the government’s lack of commitment to real environmental sustainability.  Its mere appearance will do.  The government wants to benefit from Alberta’s dirty oil, but maintain an eco-friendly reputation.

It’s time we shirk infamy. 

So what can you do?

  • Understand the issue
  • Learn who your member of Parliament is 
  • Write and share why this is unacceptable
  • Tell your friends
I want to keep the flag on my pack.  I want policies I can be proud of.


  1. OOoooooooo-weeee! That was powerful. Another great post Zack.

  2. Zack- remind me to discuss this with you next time we talk. I have an opinion here but would rather discuss with you directly.
    p.s. how was your anniv?

  3. Thanks so much for reading the blog and for the comment, Uncle Rick. I look forward to talking with you about it. It's certainly a hot topic! The anniversary was great - I'll tell you more about it when we chat.

  4. I completely agree. Canada needs to step up and come up with REAL climate change policy. And just saying "ditto" to whatever the United States is doing is just plain cowardly!

  5. Wow Zack, this is a great topic to discuss! Coming from a political science background I can definitely understand your irritation! Thanks for enlightening me about this particular problem!