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not all is equal. what choice will you make?

Dogwood doesn’t care about the “national interest”; just its own.

Ethical Oil February 22, 2012

Environmentalists tend to be about as good at economics as economists are at keeping their rhythm in a drum circle, so it’s not surprising to see Emma Gilchrist at the Dogwood Initiative way over her depth in trying to mount an economic case against the Northern Gateway pipeline. What is surprising is the disingenuousness of it. No one seriously believes the foreign-funded anti-industry types at Dogwood would actually support a coastal pipeline from the oil sands if they weren’t worried it might drive the Canadian dollar too high, as Gilchrist actually claimed to Calgary Herald readers earlier this month. We wonder if she kept a straight face while writing that.

The Dogwood Initiative isn’t paid big money by billionaire foreigners to help Canada’s trade balance: it’s paid big money by foreign billionaires to, as one of these arrangements clearly stipulates, “to help grow public opposition to counter the Enbridge [Northern Gateway] pipeline construction …”  If pretending there’s an economic case to be made for not approving Gateway helps “grow public opposition,” then Gilchrist seems happy to start sounding like she’s an economist, even if she doesn’t make a lot of sense doing it. But make no mistake: Dogwood has pre-determined its opposition; it’s being paid by foreign funders to grow that opposition; whatever cherry-picked arguments it can put out to justify that opposition are seemingly poorly tacked on after the fact.

No respectable economist would buy the supposed economic justifications that Dogwood offers for standing in the way of a major construction and energy project. Gilchrist careens from the hysterical, such as suggesting that every one of B.C.’s coastal-seafood and ocean recreation workers could be put out of work if the pipeline is approved, to the mercantilist, such as when she warns that our government has compromised Canada’s “energy security” by allowing some foreign investment in the oil industry.

That last claim is the richest one of all (though Gilchrist’s attempt to teach investors that she knows better than they do about the profitability of refining and oil production rates is a close second). It’s fallacious to begin with. Anyone who knows how our resource industry works knows that resources are publicly owned and controlled and producers — whether foreign or domestic — are able only to temporarily lease the rights to use them. Even if there were a preponderance of foreign owners in the oil sands (though the biggest operators remain the Canadian ones), our government still holds ultimate sovereignty over the oil itself.

But what makes that supposed worry about foreign investment especially rich is that it’s coming from Dogwood: a foreign backed lobby group. Dogwood’s director, Eric Swanson, recently gave Canadians a pretty good idea of just how little his group cares about Canada’s national interests when he was confronted on national television over the loyalty questions raised by his foreign backers. His response? He’d “take duffel bags of money delivered from Martians from outer space” if he could.

The Dogwood Initiative cannot accept huge sums of funding from American billionaire foundations — or any other non-Canadian financier that comes along — and still claim to represent Canadians. It just can’t. And it’s actions prove it: Rather than engage in the regulatory hearings now underway into the Gateway project in a legitimate and reasonable way, Dogwood coordinated a mass sabotage effort: “Mob the Mic” was the name of the group’s scheme to sign up as many bodies as possible to dominate the hearings, gumming them up and dragging them out. Dogwood claims to have 1,600 people registered to speak against the pipeline at the hearings. From one single group. That’s abusing a regulatory process that Canadians count on to efficiently and effectively evaluate our industry decisions. Canadian taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the panel to sit through all 1,600 of those Dogwood-arranged testimonies; it will take months to get through them. Never mind that polls show that popular support in B.C. is on the side of the pipeline: Dogwood’s foreign backers don’t care about what British Columbians want, so apparently Dogwood doesn’t care either.

Dogwood has used the same kind of mischievous swamping tactic on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, coordinating mass mail bombs to overload our public service workers and our regulatory systems. And the group used the same ploy to deluge companies looking to sign contracts in Canada’s oil industry. Thousands of likely hostile letters flooded the mailrooms of overseas investors interested in putting their capital into Canada’s economy.

To Dogwood, foreign investment that could create jobs and opportunities for Canadians is something to be stopped. The only kind of foreign investment Dogwood appears to support is the cheques the organization gets from its rich, foreign patrons. That’s not good economics. And that’s not standing up for Canada’s national interests. That’s just Dogwood standing up for its own interests.




Comments (7)

  1. One of Canada’s Canada’s Top Bureaucrat in the PCO say oil sands pose “significant environmental and financial risk to the province of Alberta,”

    “While the industry has taken steps to reduce emissions, the shift from mining to in-situ production, which is almost three times as emissions intensive as mining, is resulting in a continued acceleration of emissions from this sector,”

    “The oilsands are the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions in Canada,” said the memo to Wouters. “According to Environment Canada’s emissions trends, emissions from the oil-and-gas sector could increase by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2020, driven by a more than 200 per cent increase in emissions from the oilsand sectors. By 2020, oilsands GHG emissions could total 92 million tonnes a year, up from about 31 in 2005. This increase of 61 million tonnes is greater than the projected emissions growth for all other sectors combined.”

    Read more:

  2. Enbridge gets far more foreign funding than any of the pro-environment groups opposing the pipeline. I can appreciate that there are 2 sides of the debate re. the pipeline, but please, for heaven’s sake, stop using phrases like “foreign-funded anti-industry types”, YOU SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!!

  3. How about those 10′s of 1000′s of BC workers that would lose big time if there was an oil spill? (Go check out how they are doing in Prince William Sound more then 20 yrs post Exxon Valdez) Jobs, businesses, property values..

    How about the threat to the BC economy if a tanker spill occurred? Enbridge is not responsible for one dime if an accident happens with a tanker. Mariner’s insurance won’t even begin to cover the costs that would be borne by BC taxpayers. (check out the billions spent so far in the Gulf of Mexico, with no end in sight)

    Why would organizations like the Dogwood Initiative want to stop the pipeline? What reason do any environmental groups have to fight the Northern Gateway tooth and nail?
    Kathryn, please tell me what motivation they have?

    Enbridge has stated that leaks in the pipeline are a certainty. Why do you think people don’t want this in vital areas for salmon and the rest of the ecosystem?

    One other thing. I have seen polls in right wing newspapers that show BC is 80% opposed to the the pipeline and increased tanker traffic. Today i saw poll results by the Harper Govt. that shows the majority of Canadians are opposed also, Love the spam votes on the last day!

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