Canada's Enduring Environmental Shame

When 500 ducks died earlier this month after landing on a tar sands tailings pond, Canadians got a glimpse into how unfettered tar sands development is taking its toll.Members of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations living downstream from the massive industrial projects have been feeling the effects for a lot longer.The backyard of the tiny community of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta contains the second largest reserve of petroleum in the world. The tar sands development is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of rapid pollution of the Athabasca river basin, the reason for strip mining of thousands of square kilometres of boreal forest; a huge consumer of natural gas, and the likely cause of alarming rates of cancer in nearby Cree communities.

The Tar Sands, Downstream :: Views :: thetyee.ca
More on this later, but for all its feel good actions in other areas, the Tar Sands are, and will remain Canada’s symbol of hypocrisy when it comes to the environment.

3 comments for “Canada's Enduring Environmental Shame

  1. Bruce
    May 22, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Agreed, 100%. What I have trouble understanding though and maybe you can shed some light on this, is how much responsibility lies with the provincial versus federal government. The provinces in Canada have a lot more power and self-determination than the individual states in the US. To what extent is this a shame against the Albertan government, as opposed to the much more environmentally friendly governments in BC and Manitoba for instance?

  2. May 22, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Yeah. I need to delve into the separation of powers here and who regulates what. More on that later. This book, Unnatural Law explores Canada’s environmental policies through this very lens of Ottawa vs. the Provinces. I guess I will be reading it pretty soon!

  3. May 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    But to make a rather simple point, an environmental disaster of this magnitude does not happen without the active collusion/passive handwringing of all the parties involved. So to some extent, this is the entire country’s problem to fix and its shame to bear till it is fixed.