Canada’s Travelling Salesman

This week our Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, is visiting Chicago and Houston on a sales pitch to US business.

The subject of his pitch?  the Keystone XL pipeline that will carry tar sands bitumen across the US border on its way to refineries in Texas. His goal is to put political pressure on President Obama and his administration to approve the Keystone XL project.

First, he minimized the contribution that extraction of bitumen makes to world GHG emissions.  He did not mention that the tar sands are and will continue to be one of the world’s top producers of GHG.

Secondly, based on an Environment Canada report, he stressed that Canada’s action against climate change is working as Canada is half way to meeting its Copenhagen Target. Oliver compared Canada with the US and stressed that Canada matched the US  in reducing emissions.

The Minister’s audiences will never know that Canada’s environment commissioner, who is independent of Environment Canada, has publicly stated in his report that with many environmental regulations still not developed it’s unlikely Canada will meet its 2020 GHG reduction targets.  The US, as reported by Resources for the Future, an independent research agency, is on track to very nearly meet its Copenhagen target.

The Minister’s audiences will also never know that reputable International agencies consider his “halfway” claim to be exaggerated, and the projections in the Environment Canada report use certain artifacts of accounting rules only recently adopted by Environment Canada.

His objective is to persuade US business and labour interests to take Canada’s side.  These interests will not be looking too closely at the merits of his claims.  As his audiences will probably never be aware of the other side of the story he just might succeed in pulling the wool over their eyes.


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