01.07.2011 09:53 AM

The Minister of State for Irony

January 6, 2011, morning: Peter Kent calls Oilsands “ethical oil.”

January 6, 2011, afternoon: Ethical oil blows up four people.

January 7, 2010: P.M.O. asks new Minister of the Environment to say something nice about Michael Ignatieff.


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    J. Coates says:

    Gee… we need oil for just about everything. I and thousands of others make their living from it. What’s next? Shutting down all the auto plants in Ontario?
    Perhaps we should ask Mr. Kudos, whoops David Suzuki.

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      smelter rat says:

      And fuck the consequences…..

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    allegra fortissima says:

    “What money smells like”


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    Tim from Alberta says:

    To make an omlette,eggs need to be broken.
    I read that quebec hydro flooded many acres of land.
    Ontario hydro burns a lot of coal.
    How many cars and trucks are idling in line at Tim Horton’s this morning?
    Having read Mr. Levant’s book,I submit that ,using his arguments,it is ethical oil.
    I did enjoy how Mr. Kent talked over solomon on the show,yesterday.
    As usual,solomon started with a position and an opinion and tried to bully his guest into agreeing with him.Good to see someone at least make an attempt to put forth an alternate position/opinion.
    Isn’t it kind of hypocritical how some/many people dump on our oil sands while holding out their hands for their share of equalization money??
    And hey,Fred Langdon tells us that the recession in Canada is over.It may be the last time we see/hear him on CBC morning….

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    Namesake says:

    Well, logic isn’t exactly your strong suit, so let me spell it out for you:

    One of the legs in Ezra’s, er, stool, comprising his extended argument in favour of the conclusion that the barrels of oil extracted from the ashpaltsands of Alberta are more ethical than those extracted from other regions is that:

    – there is no blood on our hands from the making of it, unlike, e.g., “every barrel of oil from Sudan [which] contains a teaspoon of human blood…metaphorically speaking…based on the UN death count of 300,000 for the Darfur genocide.”

    [the quote’s from a review, introducing his argument, linked below].

    But now that there’s been at least four demonstrable deaths attributable to the sands — not to mention, of course, all the much-disputed cancerous deaths related to the groundwater pollution — that leg begins to look kind of wobbly, since there’s at least a drop of Canadian blood in every barrel, now, too.

    Of course, Levant can just kick out that leg altogether, and submit it was just the preface to his real argument, which sets out four more, far sturdier legs, since he goes on “to argue that the oil sands are the ethical choice on the liberal grounds of economic justice, minority rights, freedom and, believe it or not, environmentalism.”


    But it’s not an irrelevant consideration to point out the various ways in which this IS dirty oil, but nor is it appropriate to say that anyone who does that is ipso facto committed to the opposite extreme of declaring it’s absolutely unethical and should be shut down.

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      Namesake says:

      oops. Amend that to “four demonstrable injuries” (must… read… stories… first…)

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      Namesake says:

      Sigh. I should’ve known you’d repeat the same mistake.

      1) You’re right: Ezra stole his title and argument from others; e.g., the blogger Jeremy William’s post from over two years earlier, and Kent stated he’s never read Levant’s book, but clearly he’s been briefed on its central thesis & arguments, since he sketched some of it on P&P.

      2) You’re boxing a straw man, there. I closed the above comment by noting that someone who points out there are indeed some unseemly aspects of our oil production is NOT thereby stating that it’s absolutely bad: there ARE shades of grey. (However much Conservatives have trouble seeing them.)

      Indeed, one of the most important and widely used moral theory used in the Anglo-American tradition to determine whether something is ethical or not which Levant himself is probably employing is:

      Utilitarianism, which, roughly speaking, from a public policy formulating point of view, holds that:

      an action (or in this case, a course of action, or policy, of continuing to extract oil from the bituminous sands of Alberta) is justifiable/ ethical / right (pick your poison), if and only if, upon considered reflection, it is more likely to produce a greater amount of benefit than harm to all concerned.

      So, yeah, we try to take all the likely injuries & illnesses & deaths into account in producing & transporting & using the stuff, and compare that to NOT doing it, and either using someone else’s, or not using it at all, etc. etc.

      There’s nothing (screamingly) wrong with that approach — as you intimate, it’s done all the time in gov’t, in deciding whether to lower or raise speed limits, or add traffic signals or lanes, etc. etc. — assuming that it’s done in good faith, without jerryrigging the evidence.

      So, no, someone who points out there are some deaths associated with some mode of transportation, or production, or consumption etc. is not thereby saying it must be stopped in its tracks, because they may also point out that NOT doing that may mean millions more deaths from freezing, or starvation, etc.

      The problem here is that even if something is better than some of the alternatives doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any reforms to the status quo, if it can and should be made even better still.

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    hugger says:

    Dr. Strangeoil I presume?

    Kudos to Namesake for brainstorming that one.

    Interesting how any measure of criticism of the Tar sands always brings out the Reformatory Guard who promptly roll out the equalization payments being gifted by generous Albertans who were of course, born into privilege and have basked in the glow of oil wealth since time began. Some 5,000 years ago.

    Doesn’t much matter what green or energy conservation topic is being addressed, the “Palace Guard” raise their rubber swords and attack. Whether it’s Hydro Electric dams, Electric vehicles or other, they can never equate that everything has it’s time and everything is eventually replaced by something more contemporary. (Not always a good thing, but just the way it is). They can only see the value of petro dollars and never the negative consequences. What of the cost of an F35? What of the cost of a Capt. Semrau?

    I come from the birth place of this Nation, a place where lumber, fishing, farming, shipping and ship building once made for a strong economy. The winds and the sands of time changed those things, and oil dependence played a part but only in the later stages. I believe the Strangeoil cult are afraid what happened to us, will happen to them once oil is no longer the major source the world uses to power itself.

    After all, once you take away oil and gas what have they left themselves with? Commodity markets? Monsanto? Beggar thy neighbor? A Western beef farmer doesn’t even have the option to try to negotiate a price for his own product anymore. Atlantic beef is now shipped to kill floors in Toronto and then shipped back. This is progress?

    So, with the current wisdom we as a Nation prefer to support building pipelines from the NWT to Texas and meanwhile appropriate $20 million worth of federal funds toward development of Fundy tidal power. I am still waiting to hear something on the Feds chipping in on Mr. Williams recent announcement on Lower Churchhill, or anything substantial that resulted from the conference in Moncton which supposedly focused it’s efforts on a National grid.

    And Harper had the audacity to refer to us as a region beset with a culture of defeat.

    Bees are dying by the tens of thousands, the fish kill is unprecedented, the coastline of my Old New Brunswick home is being swept away, but the mantra remains. Drill baby drill.

    One of my Vietnam veteran friends isn’t as patient as me. He says “so many arseholes, so few bullets”.

    I think I will go and hug a tree now.

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      hugger says:

      “As someone who who also comes from that region I can vouch for the fact that there is a culture of defeat there. Your post is further evidence.”

      And of course Gord, you missed most of the intent of what I wrote, except to take an opportunity to wave your rubber sword. Your immediate response in defense of Harper I find offensive, especially in consideration of the fact that you can’t be bothered to address the rest of what I wrote. How your simpleton saviour won’t invest in Atlantic hydro electricity. a National grid or to contribute to anything substantial that would allow him to claim a legacy of a builder rather than a taker and a destroyer of National Sovereignty.

      How many times do we have to listen to the horseshit of we offer our condolences to the families of the fallen Gord? How many times do we have to grin and bear the sacrifice of a good man like Captain Semrau? How many times do we have to play one region of this Nation against the other and be so stupid as to not realize that the Harperites are doing that on purpose?

      And to Tim from Alberta. I was referring to NB an Nova Scotia as being the birthplace of our Nation. I try not to burden people with too many words when I write. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

      That said, you really need to do more study in how our Federation interacts. How we feed each others needs, be it the need for trained workers or the need to fund equitable lifestyles. Tim, there are many people from my province who are working in Alberta, and many from the other Atlantic provinces as well. They weren’t born on top of one of the worlds largest oil deposits, but they chose for whatever reasons to move there in order to contribute. Apparently their numbers are larger than you are aware of.

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        hugger says:

        “They moved – as I did – to AB because the market economics policies of AB are/were better than anywhere else in Canada”

        Like the guy I sold a laptop to last fall just before he left to go back to the seismic crews for the winter. Obviously he had done an in depth study of Alberta’s market economics policies ?? and knew they were better…etc.

        “thats why the resources were developed there rather than elsewhere. (and SK has bigger reserves than AB does – into the trillions) (that is the thrust of my post above).”

        Yes Gord, you have to hand it to those crafty Albertans who pumped out countless barrels of oil at 20 something dollars a barrel in comparison to the dummies in Saskatchewan who are now getting 80 and 90 dollars per barrel. Darn that Ralph guy was shrewd wasn’t he?

        “instead ask “how do we make our bureaucracy smaller thus reducing the burden on business and how do we increase labour freedom “

        In New Brunswick we have one of if not the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. You were saying?

        “And your pleading for just one more hit – money for a national power grid – a grid that is not necessary even in the Atlantic provinces and if it was built it would transport crazy-cheap NG power into those provinces from Pennsylvania (pei just signed a long-term contract for 6-7 cents per kwh – a fifth of the heavily subsidized and unreliable windmill power).”

        What are talking about? NS Power corp. which is privatized just announced an initial 5% increase to be followed by two more, PEI has no ability to transfer power no matter what they might negotiate and NG power from Penn. is not only finite and rife with fracking problems, it’s not likely to flow north given the energy hungry nature of the US and how much power from Quebec already flows south.

        PEI is a tiny place but the electricity costs are high by national standards. NB is in flux thanks to the issues surrounding Lepreau and Ontario is a huge market that is investing heavily in alternative generating capacity. Costs west of there aren’t so good either. So what exactly was your point Gord? Steve Harper and all the Premiers came to Moncton to write a fat cheque to the Beausejour Hotel for a good party rather than an earnest discussion on a National Grid which is what they were supposed to be doing?

        Oh and Gord, Oil addiction will be defeated by common sense, applied by people smarter than you.

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    Brad says:

    They only pollute water that is brackish, I saw that on TV, so no harm done.

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    Tim from Alberta says:

    Using words like Tar sands and Reformatory indicates to me your lack of respect for points of view that differ from your own.Not to mention your inferred lack of respect for parts of this country that you seem to consider inferior.
    Too bad….
    New Brunswick(I am assuming that’s where you originated)is the birthplace of our nation?I suspect there might/may be a few provinces that might dispute that.I guess that you were there,but, to take complete credit as to location is a bit of a stretch.
    The fact is that you helped start this country,but, if not for we “have” provinces sending you money in the form of equalization and EI,you would now be too broke to participate.
    Perhaps you should be less critical of the hands that feed you because it is unlikely that your economic situation will ever change.
    Just wondering why we,out here in Alberta,seldom see people from your province taking advantage of all the work available in our province.We see lots of people from the other maritime provinces working out here,but none from the “birthplace” of our nation.
    Since when is it that a western beef farmer is unable to negotiate a price for his animals?Maybe you have beef mixed up with grain……

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      Warren says:

      Oh give me a fucking break Tim. If I had a dollar fro every time your pals have called me a “Lie-beral” and a “leftard” and whatnot, I’d be living on a yacht somewhere warm.

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        Tim from Alberta says:

        Sorry Warren.I forgot that you take the credit for coining the word,Reformatory.
        They are not my “pals”.
        To the best of my recollection I have never called anyone a lie-beral,leftard or a moron(which you called me,one time).
        If I have(while drinking),I apologize.
        I do,however,stand by my position that comments seeming to come from “eastern” Canadians are usually more caustic,personally demeaning and condesnding than those written out here in the western hinterlands.
        The reason would seem to be a combination of regional superiority(perceived)and regional financial envy.
        Or maybe it’s just that I’m a redneck hillbilly with a prejudicial dislike for all things (and people) who live east of Saskatchewan.NOT!!!!!!!

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    James Curran says:

    You’re not on your yacht? Shit. Sorry to hear that dude.

    Oh, and Tim, give your fucking head a shake. When that oil dries up that whole fucking province will be on welfare again. Know why Tim? Do ya? Cause there ain’t nothing else there. Nada. Rien. (Ok Banff, but other than that….). And, just so I understand your hard on for Easterners Tim, are you saying all Albertans were from Alberta? Or is there a possibility that a bunch of Easterners and immigrants made the province what it is today and, maybe, just maybe, your own ancestors came from somewhere other than Alberta.

    On another note….some people DIED. And it had NOTHING to do with fucking equalization payments or hydro electric power.

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      Tim from Alberta says:

      My,my,James……you do seem to have a love affair with written profanity.It would seem that you have a real problem with us westerners(at least us Albertans),as well.
      I suspect that caustic,regional envy is the cause.
      Too bad!!
      I think that Alberta(and Albertans)both are and will be doing fine both now and in the future.
      Assuming of course that our provincial government gets their act togeather and the Feds leave us alone.
      and it’s not just the money we get from oil and gas.
      On your next trip to Banff,you should make some time to check out the rest of our province.I think/hope you might find a few reasons to change your opinions of us.
      p.s. let me know when you’re coming……I’ll buy you an Alberta steak and spring for a bottle of one of our local beers.

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    hugger says:

    Tim I forgot to address this question that you asked. Sorry.

    “Since when is it that a western beef farmer is unable to negotiate a price for his animals?”

    Since Agricorp took over everything Tim. Since the American meat processing giants bribed your Alberta politicians and our Federal ones too. If you want me to provide company names, and links I will gladly do so but I will have to take a bit of time to get them for you. It’s not a deep secret nor a conspiracy theory guy, it is just simple truth. Like the truth that Monsanto hires ex police and ex military personnel to enforce their corporate agenda.

    Another example would be the US lobbyists that argued that the public should not be made aware of meat being sold to them from cloned animals because that was not in the public’s best interest.

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      hugger says:

      Yeah Gord, like I said Joe farm boy has no options left where he can negotiate price. List the available packers within a 50 klm radius of say High River that a cow calf operator can negotiate price with Gord. The Chicago mercantile exchange isn’t one of them.

      Instead of madly waving your arms around there bud how about you specify what exactly you take exception with that I wrote and offer proof to substantiate your point of view. Frankly Gord, I think you have kissed the Cod once too often. And save that tin foil roll eh, you can get together with the rest of the Reformatory Guard and make Pigs in a blanket.

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    Mr. Chamberlain says:

    Could comment but as it turns out it seems I need Namesake’s permission. Especially on issues involving the Liberals.

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      Namesake says:

      Have Pun — Will Gavel

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