Forget about the Saudis. Let's clean up our own backyard!
We have a new environment Minister and, as usual, a new spin to go with him. He wasn't in the job a whole day before he starting talking about "ethical oil" - an oxymoron to most of us, but a popular line in right-wing circles these days.
The next day the Prime Minister made it official when used the same phrase.
Like any good diversionary tactic it has all of us scrambling to come up with the right arguments to refute the notion that there is such a thing as ethical oil, and do the tar sands qualify?
Lookout! It's a debating trap designed to change the argument from what's wrong with the tar sands to what's good about them. A clever trick - but that's all it is.
So when the Globe and Mail asked me to react to this new government spin, I didn't try to argue poisoning fish, wildlife and the people who eat them is just as unethical as denying Saudi women equal rights or hanging protesters Nigeria. Frankly I don't know which is worse. Do you? Does anyone?
More importantly, is it relevant? I live in Canada. I work for Sierra Club Canada. I told the Globe that we can't do anything about Saudi Arabia or Nigeria but we can clean up our own backyard.
My exact quote to the Globe and Mail was: “The fact that the Saudis or Nigerians or others are worse in human rights and environment is not relevant. We can’t do anything about that; we can deal with our oil sands and we are not.” (You can read the full article here)
Confronted by a messy room, or a messy planet, the rational response is to start the cleanup with what is right in front you. Do what you can do today and keep going tomorrow.
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
613 291 6888