Harper’s Canada: An environmental policy fact sheet

Part two of our series outlining key events and issues that have defined Canadian politics over the past several months. Here’s how our environmental policy is shaping the political narrative, both at home and abroad.

(Page 3 of 3)
  • While TransCanada is working on pipelines to the U.S., Enbridge is the company behind today’s huge Canadian pipeline debate
  • Enbridge operates an extensive network of pipelines across North America, and has dealt with a number of serious spills
  • July 25, 2010 - Enbridge pipeline in Michigan burst, spilling over 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and surrounding area
  • Company originally downplayed amount of spill (said it was 819,000 gallons but it was actually over 1.1 million)
  • The clean-up efforts continue even now, and local residents have reported health issues like seizures, nausea, breathing problems from toxic spill
  • Enbridge has a history of other spills in the US, including four major spills since 2002 (between 19,000 – 500,000 gallons each)
  • Short film highlights Enbridge’s links to spills and bad PR in the States, explaining potential impacts on the Canadian landscape


  • Jan. 10, 2012 - regulatory hearings began in Northern BC over Enbridge pipeline
  • A government-appointed Joint Review Panel will make recommendation after about a year of public hearings
  • In January, the federal government started taking aggressive action to silence pipeline critics
  • Labeled environmentalists as “radicals” bent on sabotaging the Canadian economy and jobs
  • A coordinated campaign linked government efforts to the pro-oil sands group Ethical Oil, which employs the same rhetoric repeated by Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver
  • A smear campaign began against environmental groups, condemning them for accepting funding from radical “socialist billionaires” in the U.S.
  • Jan. 3, 2012 - “Our Decision” website launched by Ethical Oil, bashing environmental groups and their ties to U.S. funders
  • Jan. 6, 2012 - Harper made public remarks voicing his own concern over foreign funders and U.S. interests “hijacking” Northern Gateway hearings
  • Jan. 9, 2012 - Joe Oliver released an open letter calling out “environmental and other radical groups” for attempting to hijack hearings and kill important projects
  • Independent reports illustrate links between the Prime Minister's Office, pro-oilsands Ethical Oil organization, and Sun Media news outlets (former PMO staff working for Ethical Oil, Ethical Oil spokespeople working for Sun News, consultants and firms tied to both pro-oilsands campaigns and Conservative MPs, etc.)
  • Previous reports from 2009 had revealed Harper's secret meetings with UK media baron Rupert Murdoch and Fox News president Roger Ailes, assumedly to discuss the creation of the new right-wing network Sun News
  • Harper's director of communications Kory Teneycke was the driving force behind Sun News at its launch


  • Jan. 24, 2012 - Andrew Frank, former communications director with enviro group ForestEthics, released an open letter claiming that the Prime Minister's Office threatened charitable organization Tides Canada, naming them an "enemy of Canada"
  • Jan. 26, 2012 - Government documents were released through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, revealing that the National Energy Board—the federal agency responsible for Joint Review Panel hearings—was listed as an oil sands “ally”
  • The same report that labeled NEB as “ally” said aboriginals, environmental groups and media were considered “adversaries”
  • The report above was part of the government’s intensive oil sands lobby in the EU (to stop them from ranking tar sands low on the fuel directive list)
  • Feb. 9, 2012 - Canada's new counter-terrorist strategy was released, labeling environmentalists as potential “issue based extremists
  • New legislation changes proposed by Harper's Conservatives also aim to shorten the environmental review process, to enable resource projects to be fast-tracked to construction
  • Mar. 4, 2012 - press reports reveal that the federal government scrapped an agreement with a U.S. based foundation that supports environmental causes, after Enbridge lobbied against the deal


  • For years, Harper has been accused of “muzzling” scientists on environmental issues like climate change
  • Feb. 16, 2012 – International science journalists wrote an open letter to Harper to stop muzzling
  • Their complaints relate to recently leaked documents in U.S. (concerning the Heartland Society) that revealed campaigns to silence climate science, cut out education about global warming


For more on “Harper’s Canada”, read VO’s other cheat sheets:

Harper’s Canada: A Conservative government policy cheat sheet
Harper’s Canada: A public safety and privacy cheat sheet
Harper’s Canada: A local and provincial politics cheat sheet
Harper’s Canada: Threats to democracy

More in Politics

Gitxsan leaders join BC First Nations to vote for Anyone But Clark (ABC)

Two Gitxsan house groups, Gwininitxw and Luutkudziiwus urge voting that will empower First Nations, support communities, environment, and economic well-being.

B.C. Premier defends Bill 20 amendments

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday that a controversial provision in Bill 20 is meant to create “a level playing field” for all the political parties. Her comments come on the heels...

Jacobs and Florida and Gehl oh my! Who really influences our local politicians?

Still undecided about who to vote for? Second guessing yourself? Who really influences and inspires those candidates who are running for a seat in Vancouver's City Hall?
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.