The Ethical Oil Bait and Switch
In the ongoing campaign to put a positive spin on Alberta’s Tar Sands, proponents have deployed a new rhetorical attack: women’s rights. If you support women’s rights, say conservative pundits Ezra Levant and Alykhan Velshi, choose “ethical oil” over “conflict oil”. The phrase is now standard prose for the Harper government, eager to save the reputation of the much maligned “Tar Sands”.
Their website, EthicalOil.org, says those who oppose the expansion of Alberta’s Tar Sands are implicitly supporting petrocracies, like the government of Saudi Arabia, that oppress women. Getting oil from the Tar Sands is the ethical alternative, they claim, because unlike them, Canada supports free speech and women’s rights.
It is worth noting that Levant and Velshi have extensive ties to the Harper government, who themselves have considerable interest in the accelerated expansion of the Tar Sands. Levant is a former campaigner for the Reform Party and former communications director to Stockwell Day. He stepped aside in a 2002 by-election to let Stephen Harper be elected. Velshi is former Director of Communications under Jason Kenney and former Director of Parliamentary Affairs under John Baird.
I’ll hand it to them – Levant and Velshi offer a compelling bait: the opportunity to support women’s rights. But then comes their switch: we must support Tar Sands expansion and the Keystone XL pipeline, a $13 billion 2,673-kilometre pipeline that would carry half a million barrels a day (in addition to the half million already carried by its sister line, the original Keystone) of crude to Gulf coast refineries.
Their bait and switch is actually a logical fallacy that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In reality, if we actually want to take on Saudi sheiks, the best way to do that is to use less of the stuff and transition the economies of the world from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Expanding the Tar Sands will have a negligible impact on Saudi oil profits because their oil remains cheaper to produce, and global demand for oil keeps going up. On the other hand, if we invest our creativity into breaking our addiction to fossil fuels then we would shake their power to its core. It’s that simple.
Read more at thecanadian.org