Skip to content

California Dreamin'

Last week a group of environmental extremists from San Francisco launched the latest drive-by smear job on our province.

Last week a group of environmental extremists from San Francisco launched the latest drive-by smear job on our province. In a project that would earn my six-year-old son an F in science and an A+ in science fiction, the troubled minds at Corporate Ethics International (CEI) have launched a series of billboards and other advertisements urging Americans and Britons to boycott travel to Alberta. The reasoning, say these aspiring rocket scientists, is that Alberta’s ‘tarsands’ developments are destroying an area the size of Michigan. They go on to compare our Fort McMurray oilsands to that “other oil disaster” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, as anyone who has actually visited the oilsands (or has a grasp on using Google) well knows, Alberta’s oilsands’ surface mines - roughly 600 square kilometres - cover an area less than one-thirtieth the size of the San Francisco Bay Area; and unlike San Francisco, oilsands mines are reclaimed and turned into pristine habitat for wildlife after they’re done being developed. The comparison to the Gulf oil spill disaster is, of course, nonsensical and a slap in the face of every man, woman and child living on the US Gulf coast dealing with what truly is an unprecedented environmental disaster.

Predictably, the folks at CEI plastered photos of one of the 1,600 ducks killed recently in the oilsands’ tailing ponds to make their point. To be sure, cleaning up the tailings ponds and eliminating bird deaths is very important, however, I find it interesting our fowl friends at CEI failed to note the thousands of birds killed annually at the state’s Altamont Pass wind farm – and I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard anything from them demanding California shut down expansion to wind farms in order to stop birds from dying.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that this group of granola crunchers by itself will have net zero effect on Alberta’s tourism industry. After all, it’s somewhat challenging for any rational thinking human being to take seriously an organization whose stated mission is “to bring corporations back in service to and under the control of the citizenry.” (Mao and Lenin would be so proud).

Unfortunately, this type of spectacle is becoming a pattern. Alberta needs to take an active stand against these and the many other groups and individuals, including several United States and Eastern Canadian politicians, who continue to spread their propaganda to those who don’t take the time to verify facts. Make no mistake, these individuals and organizations will not rest until our most financially important industry is brought to its knees. I don’t need to explain how this will affect our provincial and national prosperity.

Shortly after the release of this misinformation campaign, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith called on the premier and all provincial parties to meet in order to discuss a united strategy on dealing with these kinds of attacks. Sadly, the offer was immediately refused, but still remains on the table. The fact is, whatever our political preference, this issue affects us all, and as a province, we need to be united. We need an organized strategy to deal with these attacks and we need a plan to immediately phase out tailings ponds and eliminate bird deaths. We can accomplish this, but we will need to work together in order to do so.

Oh, and by the way, I love travelling to California; did so just last year. My dad, brothers and I visited Yosemite National Park to hike the Half Dome and enjoy the picturesque landscape. You know what though? This year, I think we’ll spend our time and money in Banff…that is if there are enough campsites to share with all those RVs from California.

Be the first to read breaking stories. Allow browser notifications on your device. What are browser notifications?
No thanks