By Shawn McCarthy and Steven Chase, Globe and Mail January 10, 2012
Environmentalists are fearful that the Conservative government is planning to limit their advocacy role after Prime Minister Stephen Harper complained that groups flush with “foreign money” are undermining a controversial pipeline review.
Mr. Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver stoked activists’ fears in recent days by lashing out at environmental groups that have taken money from U.S. donors to build opposition to the $6.6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry oil-sands bitumen to the British Columbia coast.
The Conservative-dominated Commons finance committee is set to begin a review of the charity sector, and several activists say government MPs have told business groups that the committee will look at the environmental sector’s transparency, its advocacy role and the flow of funds from outside the country.
Somewhere hanging beside all those pictures of the Queen that the government has ordered to be hung, there must be another conservative party mantra, "It's the money, stupid!"
Certainly, it's not the housing or the health care or the lack of decent jobs and lifestyle that besets the people of Attawapiskat; it's the accounting of some $90 million over the last five years.
And certainly it's not the environment that is the issue in the hearings for the Northern Gateway Pipeline from just north of Edmonton to Kitimat on the west coast, where the Exxon Valdez proved navigation is hazardous, decades ago. It's the "foreign money" that is coming across the border in the form of the environmental lobby to fight this thing, just as that same money has been fighting the Keystone Pipeline in the U.S.
Balancing the interests of Enbridge, the developer of the Gateway Pipeline, and those of the environment is somewhat like training a rabid dog to live in the same cage with a golden retriever without destroying the retriever...it may not be feasible to accomplish.
And we all know that this Canadian government has already taken a position that the environment (the golden retriever) is the sacrificial animal in its equation.
After all, the tar sands project, touted as one of the most environmental disasters by the "green" movement is the source of the crude that would pass through both pipelines and this government has tar-sands crude all over its hands, its budget files, and its campaign finances.
One has to wonder if the government is incapable of comprehending something as both abstract and as important as protecting the environment, when its tsar can think only in balance sheets of dollars and votes. Complication, ambiguity and uncertainty are words foreign to the lexicon of this prime minister.
And dollars, and budget figures do not either permit or tolerate any of them...there is both certainty of those black and white digits and political single-mindedness, and of course, the most profound reductionism.
One also has to wonder if this government is the most recent "app" for the tech world, reducing every file to a simply binary choice, dependent on a debate over tainted, or lost, or foreign or unaccounted dollars.
Until, that is, their own spending fails to account for that $50 million nabbed from "border security" and lavished on the folks in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
As Preston Manning reminds the government today in the media, this government too will fall. The question tormenting many of us is, "How soon can we dump it into the trash where it belongs?"