"Why polar bears and not elephants?" and more from Canada's hyperbolic Tory senators

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…Those calling for an inquiry have made allegations of interference, abuse, political manipulation, influence peddling, money laundering, support for terrorism and active engagement in elections. Such serious charges must be substantiated with concrete proof.

…More transparency suits me, as it would let me see who is funding Ethical Oil and who its puppets are. Kathryn Marshall on Power and Politics on January 11, 2012 refused to identify Ethical Oil's supporters. However, even if this information was public, it would not give evidence that foreign monies sway Canadian minds.

In closing, I want to reinforce the importance of holding fair, inclusive and transparent hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline. Continuing to argue that the review process is radicalized, hijacked and stacked may be a pre-emptive strike, but it is worth reflecting on what is being damaged in the process.

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson (Conservative): I believe in informed, balanced public debate on environmental and resource development policy. … However, I do think that Canadians, through their elected governments and the indigenous residents of affected regions, should be the ones to decide on the balance we all seek between environmental protection, social development and resource development.

What is the problem? U.S. and foreign-funded interest groups are spending vast amounts of money helping, they would say, to provide information and increase awareness of environmental issues in Canada. How could we be critical of that? How could we not welcome many millions of dollars that are being channeled into Canada by foreign donors to help us take care of our environment?

The first problem, as honourable senators will see, is that in some cases these groups are presenting inaccuracies, misinformation and only telling part of the story.

Second, thanks very much, but we do not need help. We have a flourishing democracy. We have institutions which have been established to provide a balanced and transparent forum for considering environmental impacts and benefits.

We do not need interference and manipulation from outside, even from our good friends in the U.S.A., and even from the European homelands of many Canadian settlers.

If they want to set aside their own environmental challenges, U.S. citizens' obscene consumerism; their rapacious consumption of fossil fuels and water; their extensive coal-fired power plants; their obsession with cars; and if the Europeans want to overlook the destruction of their forests, natural environment and massive unpublicized and wasteful slaughter of what they consider animal pests, let them send their money to the developing world. We do not need foreign aid in Canada.

…I believe foreign funding is a concern because it is coming from foreign foundations with agendas that are not necessarily in the best interests of our country and because these groups have become immensely powerful. Aided by press, which oftentimes repeats misinformation without independent verification, they get the public worked up against the seal hunt, against the oil sands and against polar bear harvesting. They have sophisticated websites. They run ads….

…I believe there may be much more to the environmental movement in Canada than meets the eye. If we look behind the fuel quality directive initiative in the European Community, we might find American charitable foundation money, directly or indirectly, undermining economic growth in Canada. Is this to benefit U.S. business interests?

…Honourable senators might then ask: Why would U.S. interests want to strand Canadian oil in Canada, restricting Canadian oil exports overseas, forcing Canada to export only to the U.S. market for its abundant energy sources? The answer may lie in a study done by University of Calgary economist Michael Moore, who studied this question. Professor Moore noted that due to the lack of alternative markets for our oil, Canada pays a significant discount on oil sold to the U.S., a discount which is not small change. Over 15 years, Professor Moore estimates that this discount robs Canada of $130 billion in oil revenues. Is it conceivable that by working to shut down the oil sands and ban tanker traffic on the West Coast, American foundations are working to advance the interests of the solar and wind industries in the U.S.?

…This may sound sinister, honourable senators, but think about this for a minute: Why do many environmental activists seem to pick their causes in Canada and ignore others? Why polar bears and not elephants? Why Canadian seals and not muskrats in Europe? Why the oil sands and not coal-fired power plants? As has been verified by a recently published independent analysis, coal-fired power generators emit a lot more greenhouse gas than all the oil sands operations combined. They seem to have been given a pass by environmental activists, even though they are ubiquitous in the U.S., Ontario and Alberta.

…My other big concern about some of these unaccountable environmental organizations, with their camouflage budgets and convoluted financial structures, is that they are sometimes using bad science and misinformation and getting away with it, aided by lazy journalists. Examples abound.

…The public has been made to believe that people in Fort Chipewyan have high rates of cancer even though the respected Royal Society of Canada has clearly shown there is no credible evidence to the support the commonly repeated media accounts of excess cancer in Fort Chipewyan caused by contaminants from oil sands operations.

…All this hysteria generated by questionable science has one great benefit for fundraisers. It is very effective in generating gobs of money from well-intentioned but impressionable people who often live in polluted cities and have little or no understanding of Canada's natural resources and know nothing about the North. Resultant hysteria can be mobilized to pressure governments to change policies or reverse decisions.

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