Tar Sands: "Every Canadian has a stake in this"

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On this we can agree: as the mysteriously funded industry apologists say today in the Vancouver Sun, every Canadian has a stake in the Alberta tar sands.

Certainly, every Canadian is affected by the pollution, the environmental devastation and the international condemnation that the tar sands create. It’s high time that every Canadian had a voice in deciding whether wholly unfettered development should be allowed – much less promoted – in what is the largest point source for greenhouse gases on the continent, and the fastest growing source in Canada.

The public relations campaign to give the tar sands carte blanche is being led by a shadowy organization calling itself the Alberta Enterprise Group, which advertises itself as “a common sense public policy advocacy group” that won’t admit where it gets its funding.

This anonymity is no problem for the provincial government of Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, who is happy to participate in the AEG’s publicity stunts to draw favorable attention to Canada’s biggest environmental eyesore. In addition to what the oil industry is already spending through the AEG, Stelmach’s government added a $25-million ad budget last spring to try to prop up the reputation of the tar sands.

The tar sands is the largest industrial program in Canada. It’s a 3,000 square kilometre disaster area that generates 1.8 billion litres a day of toxic waste, which is collected into tailing ponds that already cover 50 square kilometres. And regardless of how AEG tries to spin it, the tar sands generate greenhouse gases at three times the rate of conventional oil generation.

So, yes, every Canadian has a stake. It’s time that the government of Alberta stopped spending taxpayers money on slick public relations propping up this questionable project and started taking more seriously its responsibility to truly protect the public interest.

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