Friday, June 29, 2012
Father De Souza talks about the Oil Sands. Privately developed projects that are trying hard to look after the environment. As Thomas Mulcair can attest, it is rather easier to speak about the oil sands than it is to actually get up here and see what is going on. Fort McMurray, Alta. is remote, and while my first visit was rather longer than Mr. Mulcair’s, it was still only a full day. Three years ago, upon the occasion of the merger of oil sands pioneer Suncor with Petro-Canada, this column examined some of the ethical questions posed by oil sands development. The argument then was just emerging about “ethical oil,” namely that Alberta oil is morally and strategically superior because it does not support odious regimes, from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia to Russia. The argument has only become stronger since then, propelled by Ezra Levant’s eponymous book, and adopted in the rhetoric of the federal government. The argument is actually stronger than comparative politics, with “democratic” oil trumping “tyrannical” oil. Only some 25% of the world’s oil reserves are developed by private companies; the vast majority are state enterprises. Of that quarter of global reserves, half are in the oil sands.