Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A tragically dumb column

The dumb column of the day award goes to Conservative apologist Don Martin, who coughed-up this embarrassing entry in the National Post:

Dead ducks are no 'tragedy'
Let's stop tarring and feathering Syncrude

Don Martin, National Post
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2008

CALGARY -Stephen Harper does not empathize easily.

The Prime Minister values self-reliance and a suck-it-up mentality in Canadians confronted by difficult circumstances and, except for cats, this feline fan doesn't fret about problems in the animal kingdom.

Which is why Mr. Harper's "terrible tragedy" designation for 500 unfortunate ducks that picked a toxic Syncrude oilsands sludge pond for their final dip last week, a casualty count that could be inflicted by just 55 hunters in a single day under Alberta duck-hunting limits, was so uncharacteristic.


Shorter Don Martin: F**k the ducks.

He’s completely off base. If Don dislikes overblown rhetoric though, he’d do well to advise to advise Stephen Harper to get serious about environmental protection in the oilsands, and move away the industry self-police mantra so favoured by the right towards real protection and real enforcement to balance the oilsands development with the good of the environment.

Fact is, if Harper didn’t have zero credibility in this area he wouldn’t have to call it a tragedy. Indeed, he’s overcompensating because he’s seen as an industry stooge and, as Don noted, people get very sensitive when it comes to animals.

Another shorter Don Martin: Leave the poor oil companies alone!

There's the possibility this incident could be a canary in the mineshaft. It should be fully investigated by the appropriate authorities, punitive actions taken as allowed for my legislation, and steps taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. That would be an even greater tragedy. The oil companies are making very good money in the oil sands, and they have a responsibility to us to ensure they're doing so as safely and cleanly as possible.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Greg said...

Another shorter Don Martin (and Ezra Levant too): Let's talk about ducks, so we don't have to talk about what this pollution is doing to people.

Johnathon said...

What a gret post by Don Martin.

He makes note that more than 500 birds are killed in Alverta each day.

SO, why all the fuss about 500 birds who fucked up?

Liberals are like little 2 year old girls that need to be kissed and hugged on a daily basis otherwise they dont feel loved.

What a sad bunch of old little girls.

A BCer in Toronto said...

SO, why all the fuss about 500 birds who fucked up?

Yeah, just like all those birds that died after the Exxon Valdez spill. What where they thinking, hanging out where a massive oil spill was going to occur. Stupid birds!

Barcs said...

So we have 500 birds killed on a tailings pond when the company delayed deploying the noise cannons because of an oncomming blizzard.

It's big oils fault... and therefore conservatives.

Easy connection for the loony left.

Never mind that it is nothing compared to the tens of thousands of birds that are sliced and diced by windmills each year, or the mercury poisoning that many recieve from eating fish near the hydro project called "Le Grande project",....

You can't connect problems with going green with the conservatives (without admitting that the tories do act on the environment),... so they aren't news.

But a handful near an oil site... The first sign of armageddon (unless we vote the conservatives out).

Tell me, who governed for the last decade and a half in Canada? What federal party created and enforced environmental policy over that time? Did environmental standards simply disappear in the last 2 years? Tell me another one.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I'll give Martin this, it's not about the ducks. It's about the huge pond of toxic sludge that killed the ducks. The point is not "It's a tragedy that 500 ducks died" it's "Can you believe the tar sands project is allowed to create huge open ponds of toxic sludge that are capable of killing 500 ducks in one shot".

As for other causes of bird deaths (a la barcs), first, I'd like to see the report that says "tens of thousands" of birds are killed by windmills each year in Canada. Or, in North America for that matter (though there I'd imagine it might be true). Then again, as stated, it's not about the killing of the ducks, it's about the huge ponds of toxic waste. Show me that birds are being killed by toxic runoff from the windmills and I'll get off my couch. As for birds dying from mercury poisoning, well, I actually AM pretty outraged at that too.

Again though, it's not about the birds being killed, imho, it's about allowing companies to produce huge open ponds of toxic sludge in the middle of Canada.

As for this all being hype and over-reaction, and it not being a big deal really, well, the PM seemed to think it was a big deal. So who's lying? The Prime Minister, or his "supporters"?

WesternGrit said...

The very people (Albertans) who declare oil companies can do wrong, will be the ones suffering from the toxic sludge, the dry rivers (100,000L/hr pumped through each oil well, per day), the cancers, the breathing difficulties (ever drive into Edmonton from Lloydminster?). This isn't about right or left, and this blog didn't try to make it so. What it IS about is the fact that you have a federal government whose most fervent adherents, biggest donors, and most loyal followers are either working for big oil (and related industries), are funded by big oil, or use big oil as a crutch to continue to take potshots at a long dead federal policy of almost 40 years ago.

If we didn't care about Alberta (as Liberals) - no matter what the reactionary right says - we wouldn't be saying "help Alberta fix itself", we'd be saying "let them drown themselves in the toxic sludge". Good for Alberta, we're not a party like that. We don't let parts of Canada slip off the deep end, and we don't cast them off either...

WesternGrit said...

That should read, "...companies can do NO wrong..."

Barcs said...

"This isn't about right or left, and this blog didn't try to make it so." - western grit

Maybe take a look at the post again: Conservative apologist; Stephen Harper; Harper; Stephen Harper; Harper;.... Seems to me to be an attack on the current government... maybe you can show me where he took the previous government to task???? where he mentioned government without attaching it to conservative even? Where he mentioned an environmental branch of (some) government? Nope, just Harper.

Maybe I am cynical western grit, but the fact that an outdoor cat eats more birds in a year than this late deployment of noise cannons makes me think this is a story about nothing. About just an attack on the Conservatives, and just something that will play well with the metropolitan latte crowd that the liberals might gain a few votes.

"it's not about the birds being killed, imho, it's about allowing companies to produce huge open ponds of toxic sludge in the middle of Canada." - lord kitchener

Know what a lagoon is? City, municipal, back of the trees on most farms? in the process of treatment to be sure, but not safe by any means. Take a swim if ya don't believe me,... or have a drink.

A couple of those reports from a very short search for lord kitchener:



"In the United States in 2003, wind generators accounted for only three-thousandths of 1 percent of bird killings -- no more than 37,000 birds."


Cato's report calculates that if every gigawatt in the U.S. came from wind, the turbines would kill 4.4 million birds a year


Their blades turn at 28.5 revolutions per minute but, while they appear to be moving slowly, that is an illusion. Their tips swing at over 150 miles per hour and no bird could survive being hit by a blade at that speed.

WesternGrit said...

To Barcs: You're basically arguing with the insane "logic" that oil pollution and talings ponds are less dangerous than windmills to birds. You're missing the point completely. The dead birds are only one symptom of the overall disease. How many birds have died in the hundreds of other talings "lakes" across Alberta (and they are lakes, although the oil companies like to refer to them as ponds)? How many fish have died in connected waterways? How many thousands of other animals (rabbits, squirrels, badgers, gophers, foxes, etc.) have died from drinking the polluted water, or having their connected dens flooded? How many Albertans will get cancer as a result of the high levels of carcinogens seeping into local water supplies (if you don't agree, just ask some of the First Nations communities - which tend to be closest to the toxic dumps).

You mention sloughs around farms and other towns. You "logic" once again is tragically flawed. I had a slough behind 2 villages we lived in in rural Sask. These sloughs could be though of as "polluted" because of the town's raw effluents (eventually treated in the 80s) being dumped into them. Know what? local kids still played in the water. We used to raft across it, and skate on it in the winter. The "pollutants" were biological in nature (organics), which were decaying and becoming part of the environment. Sure they were harmful to humans - much the same way as being infected with ecoli at a bad burger joint - but these are natural "dangers" - not industrial/man-made pollutants which kill the environment, and cause disease and death in humans for hundreds of years to come.

The ponds and sloughs you talk of also are strictly controlled by provincial gov'ts nowadays - with strict laws for fertilizer run-off, dumping, etc. The sloughs behind the villages I lived in had rich wildlife: ducks and birds of all sorts, millions of insects, muskrats, otters, even fish. A lot of wildlife thrives on biological waste and human effluent. No wildlife survives poisonous toxins that are the byproducts of the oil industry.

Successive Conservative governments are responsible in Alberta - for an incompetent lack of controls and regulations - and that has to do with the fact that their biggest funders are big oil. The incestuous relationship that exists there is too obvious for even someone like you to refute. Generations of Conservative, Alliance, Reform, and PC MPs have quietly and gleefully accepted their campaign donations and NOT SAID ONE WORD in questioning the way big oil does things. Now that they're in power federally, they are actually trying to help shut up the entire environmental debate.

So, are the Cons to blame? Heck no? Are they culpable as integral parts of the cover-up and the soft, gentle "petting" of Big Oil? Heck yeah. Are they guilty of being vehement supporters of Big Oil? Even you can't deny that. I worked for a company doing oil well software, and spent time visiting some big oil co's in Calgary. It was amazing how something totally unrelated to politics would bring up the Liberal-bashing, Ontario-bashing, jokes, and the usual talk about what their buddy the Reform/Alliance/Con MP, or PC MLA talked about over their golf game on the weekend.

To deny that Conservatives are intimately linked to the biggest industry in their "power-base/home" province, is ridiculous. You can also say that the Liberal Party is quite tied to the automotive and manufacturing industry in urban parts of Canada, or Bay Street. Parties tend to reflect/represent the ideas of their "power-base".

You can't tell a boy raised in rural Saskatchewan that we don't have any complaints about Big Oil. And you can't sit there and present the skewed idea that there is not an intimate link between Big Oil (even foreign companies - especially foreign companies) and the Conservative Party. One only has to look the boards of a lot of these companies and find out which party memberships they hold. One the board and executive of the company I worked for in Calgary the President, VP, VP of Engineering, and Managing Engineer, were all card-carrying Cons/Reformers who gave generously to the cause.


Demosthenes said...

I thought the Tories and their flacks were supposed to be politically astute. Trying to explain away dead, oil-slicked wildlife by saying "what's the big deal" is not politically astute.

(Just ask Exxon.)

McLea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McLea said...

Well, they're estimating that 100,000 might have died in Burma, but we're unlikely to see anything about it on this blog because the deaths can't be linked to Stephen Harper.

It's a sad world we live in, one where the death of 500 fucking birds gets more media play than the deaths of tens of thousands of human beings.

Barcs said...

You misunderstand Westerngrit.

I am not arguing that pollution is ok.

The argument was (as Mclea) put it It can be connected to Harper, Conservatives, big oil, republicans, Bush etc.... therefore it is big news, international news etc.

And while 500 bird deaths became international news where is the outrage from the media, from the liberals, from the people about windmills, the hydro project in Quebec,

My argument was essentially about politics because the post drew as much attention to the conservative hating mantra as the tragedy. Blaming a government that had 2 years to catch up on all the oversights of the previous government. (As Cretien had to catch up on Mulroneys oversights and Mulroney Trudeaus. That is just a fact of changing ownership/leadership)

My question was simply why is the big oil, conservative connection important to the media? and nothing reported about the windmill/hydro projects favored by the left?

And as McLea so succinctly said... because they cannot be linked to Harper, oil, or right wing voters. And that selective outrage over tragedies is as much a tragedy as all the pollution.

Perhaps Dion will raise an environmental question like avian kills at windmills in the house some day (or atleast one not connected to carbon or global warming). Maybe one about the toxic ni-cad or ni-methyl-hydride batteries being in wide use for energy storage in systems like solar.

I doubt it.

Environmental problems don't seem to be problems unless Harper or Bush can be politically attacked.

Barcs said...

"How many Albertans will get cancer as a result of the high levels of carcinogens seeping into local water supplies"

And how can you tell when so many eat carcinogens like potato chips (or any starch product heated at high temperatures)

"Now that they're in power federally, they are actually trying to help shut up the entire environmental debate."

Remind me again which federal party was it that deep six'd an environmental bill that dealt with real pollutants because it didn't take the liberal global warming policy of reducing greenhouse gases?

Or the Ontario provincial party that chose not to renovate coal fired power plants with pollution scrubbers (for real pollution) because it would do nothing to reduce carbon emissions?

Big oil is hardly the only polluter, and funny, with all the mining and power generation in this country it isn't even the biggest.... (no it doesn't excuse years of environmental regulations with no teeth at the provincial (AND FEDERAL) levels)

So why is it that Oil and right wing voters and Harper and Bush are to blame for all the problems? Why isn't blame for thing like Le Grande Project, the McGuinty coal pollution or turfing an environmental bill that actually would help reduce (real) pollution??

Oh yeah. When McGuinty or Dion, or Greenpeace and other such organizations are involved... You can't link it to Bush, Harper, or conservative leaning voters. (so why make a big fuss?)

Barcs said...

Here is another example for you westerngrit:


"The survey found that 62 per cent of Ontarians believe the Harper government is not doing enough to help the province from falling toward the have-not status"

Funny how the story mentions those against Harper.... but fails to mention that the 38% that think he is doing enough is more support than he received in the last election and is more support than the polls say he has.

"Even nationally, more Canadians (34 per cent of those outside Ontario) are more likely to blame the federal government than the provincial government"

34% nationally don't think he has done enough? and only 27% think McGuinty should do more?

The NDP polls nationally at 17%, the greens at 10%. Is any voter from either going to say that harper is doing enough? so only 7% of Conservative, Liberal, and Bloc voters think that the conservatives should have done more?

The story goes out of its way to badmouth the tories... but it seems to me that most people within the party would be rejoicing at such positive numbers for the party.

Why won't the media report that it is positive? Because negative sells. And negative about the Tories is what the media wants.

Demosthenes said...

It's almost astonishing, watching somebody desperately try to deflect blame from the Conservatives for what's going on in Alberta. It's a bit like blaming Democrats for Texas, except more so.

The power nexus of the current federal government is Alberta, and the most powerful Conservative party in the country is in Alberta. If there's serious environmental damage going on--and whinging about "potato chips" doesn't change the fact that there is--it's clearly on the Conservatives' heads.

If only they were as dedicated at fixing problems as they are on blaming them on everybody else.

Barcs said...

Even funnier Demontheses is liberals trying to deflect their blame in same.

The environment is a shared responsibility between federal and provincial governments (according to the constitution anyway).

And the Federal government has never shied from imposing its will on (most) individual provinces....

So why didn't Cretien fix all the problems there? Afraid he was goig to regulate the problem and votes that he wasn't going to get anyway would jump from the party?

No no... of course it is all the Conservatives fault. And when they try to clean up such problems the Liberals combine with other opposition parties to kill the bill that would do it because it didn't fix global warming on Dion's timetable. That's good justification for allowing pollution to continue.... Dalton McGuinty thinks so.