EthicalOil.org’s new spokesperson, Kathryn Marshall, authored an insulting piece this week on the Huffington Post titled “Care About Women’s Rights? Support Ethical Oil”. Marshall’s piece is a response to the October 11 article by Maryam Adrangi at It’s Getting Hot In Here. Adrangi argues that the underlying motive of the “ethical oil” campaign is to deflect negative attention from the tar sands, not to actually engage in a conversation about women’s liberation.
“If women’s rights were of genuine concern to EthicalOil.org” writes Adrangi, “then there would be a conversation about the impacts that tar sands extraction has on women”.
You’ll notice that Marshall’s attempted rebuttal fails to actually address the substantive criticisms made in Adrangi’s piece – Marshall never mentions the impacts of Alberta’s tar sands development on women, but instead repeats the same arguments and general hand-waving that sparked Adrangi’s criticism of EthicalOil.org’s conservative pundits in the first place.
Marshall’s promotion of tar sands oil is framed around a central argument that if we care about women’s rights then we must support tar sands expansion, and by extension the Keystone XL pipeline, because Canadian women fare far better than women in petrocracies, such as Saudi Arabia. But Marshall’s argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny for three major reasons.
The first is that increasing tar sands output will not hurt the Saudi sheiks’ coffers. TransCanada’s own research proves that the Keystone XL pipeline was never meant to decrease our reliance on foreign oil, just to keep Gulf Coast refineries at capacity. As global demand for oil keeps going up, a marginal shift in Canadian and US consumption will be offset by growing demand from other countries, keeping prices high and continuing to enrich the oppressive Saudi regime. Expanding the tar sands just buys Saudi Arabia a bit more time to profit before we are compelled to shift away from oil addiction towards a clean energy future – the real ‘ethical’ choice.
Read more at Huffingtonpost.ca
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
I just don’t know where to begin.
I can’t find my words because I respect you so much. You’re a woman pioneer who has done much to advance the status of women globally. You’ve donated millions of dollars to various organizations, and have used your talk show to raise the profile of women’s issues. Your philanthropy has funded projects like The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, and Women for Women International. You’ve also used your celebrity to raise awareness of environmental causes, notably the efforts to rebuild the Gulf.
That’s why I’m so stumped right now by your choice to feature ads from EthicalOil.org on your television network.
I’m all about the work that you do, but the logic of promoting tar sands oil by appealing to our desire for women’s liberation, our desire to help protect women in despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, is deeply flawed and misguided.
The ad [below], which is airing exclusively on your network in Canada, claims that strict rules in Saudi Arabia prevent women from driving, from leaving their homes or working without their male guardian’s permission. With those sad facts firmly established, the ads powerfully appeal to our deep emotions about women’s rights, human rights and fundamental political freedoms by implying that by buying “conflict oil”, we are supporting oppression.
The ad presents Canada’s tar sands as an “ethical oil” alternative to “conflict oil”. At the end of the ad the viewer is told “It’s a choice we have to make”.
So, to be clear, the argument being put forward on your network is that expanding tar sands production will help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. It also appears to imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would massively expand tar sands production, because it will decrease our reliance on conflict oil.
Let’s unpack this argument a little further.
Read more at desmogblog.com
Earlier this week, Canadians flocked to the polls for the fourth time in 7 years. This time around, the election was triggered when the minority government led by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament in March for failing to release information related to the costs of proposed crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets.
From the moment the election was announced, Harper derided it as ‘unnecessary’, and ‘unwanted’ even though public polling clearly indicated widespread displeasure with his handling of the economy, public programming including programs for women, the environment, and for proroguing parliament twice. After the 2008 election, when voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history (59% overall, and a dismal youth turnout of 37%), people wondered if this so-called ‘unwanted’ election would fail to motivate voters to the polls.
While pundits and pollsters made their best guesses leading up to election day, no one correctly anticipated the outcome. With just under 40% of the vote, the Conservatives finally won the majority they have coveted since ascending in 2006. The New Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats and formed the official opposition for the first time in history. The Liberal Party was reduced to a mere 34 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost 90% of its seats to end up with 4. On the positive side, Green Party candidate Elizabeth May won her party’s first seat in North American history.
Of the 14 closest ridings that Conservatives won seats, the combined margin of victory in all those ridings was 6,201 votes. That means the real difference between a Harper minority and majority was just over 6,000 votes. While 5.8 million people voted for Stephen Harper, another 9 million – the ‘real majority’ – voted for change. But, with his new majority, Harper no longer has to worry about impediments to his extreme ideology; he can ram his anti-science, pro-polluter agenda down the throats of the Canadian public. That spells trouble for Canada’s environment, and it’s especially bad news for the global climate.
Despite the news headlines of Harper’s ‘victory,’ sixty percent of Canadians still don’t support his economic policy. Harper will likely table the same budget that he presented before the election. It focused on the economy and jobs – and no, I don’t mean green jobs. Instead, Harper continues to promote and prioritize policies that hold Canada back from a prosperous clean energy future.
The Harper budget proposes to slash funding for clean energy programs and efficiency incentives – all significant job-creation vehicles that happen to protect rather than harm the global climate system.
The Conservatives have yet to introduce climate legislation to meet science-based international commitments to rapidly curtail global warming pollution. Harper’s position isn’t expected to improve over his last 5 years of inaction and obstruction, during which he failed to put in place any meaningful policy to meet his own weak pollution reduction targets (that aren’t even science-based). These policies made Canada a laughing stock in Copenhagen and Cancun. Now, with four years of unchecked Harper power, we’ll likely see more of Harper’s embarrassing stonewalling at international climate change summits including this fall in Durban.
Read more at desmogblog.com