The Boreal Forest

Law professor criticizes Alberta’s land-leasing practices

An Alberta law professor is suggesting the province's gold rush approach of granting hundreds of leases every year on First Nation lands is leaving it vulnerable to constitutional challenge.

Nigel Bankes, chairman of Natural Resources Law at the University of Calgary, is criticizing the Alberta government for its failure to properly consult First Nations before putting their land up for anonymous public auction through the oilsands tenure system.

In what could be interpreted as a sign that the pace of oilsands development is outstripping basic social expectations for government due diligence, he suggests the system is vulnerable to constitutional challenge.

Bankes routinely blogs about oil and gas issues as well as aboriginal issues including the recent court decision ruling against Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation's challenge to the issuance of oilsands leases to Shell Canada.... Read more »

Are the tar sands "too big to fail"?

Proponents of the rapid expansion of the Alberta oil sands highlight the huge scale of the undertaking and the huge amount of money it brings to our Canadian economy. There is a growing mystique that the tar sands are so big and central to Canada's economy that, like it or not, we just can't afford to limit their growth.

Sure, the Alberta tar sands are a BIG undertaking. Then again, we are a nation that does lots of BIG things. Canada is a "can do" nation with a gigantic and varied economy. How big?


The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) says that the oil sands and oil sands-related activities accounted for 1.5% of Canadian GDP in 2000. They expect this to rise to perhaps 3.0% in 2020. For this article's charts and data I assumed 2% of GDP in 2008.... Read more »

Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands

Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands is a two-hour visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.  

In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy.  What no one expected was that a tiny Native community downriver from Canada’s oil sands would reach out to the world, and be heard.

Directed by Edmonton filmmakers Tom Radford and Niobe Thompson of Clearwater Media, and hosted by Dr. David Suzuki, this special presentation of The Nature of Things goes behind the headlines to reveal how a groundbreaking new research project triggered a tipping point for the Alberta oil sands.

Read the entire article here.... Read more »

Artists’ group wants NAC to drop Enbridge as corporate sponsor of Prairie Scene festival


OTTAWA — Artists from Manitoba and Saskatchewan want the National Arts Centre to reconsider Enbridge’s sponsorship of an upcoming festival meant to showcase art and music from the Prairies.

Prairie Artists Against Enbridge sent an e-mail this week to the NAC protesting the company’s role as a major partner of Prairie Scene.

The festival will bring 500 artists from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, representing all disciplines, to the capital for 80 events to be held over two weeks in April and May. Since 2005, the biennial Scene events have showcased emerging and established artists from different provinces or regions.... Read more »

Oil sands cover Thornhill MP’s riding

Can you picture Thornhill, Ontario, swallowed up by Alberta’s oil sands?

Four environmental groups would like you — and Canada’s new environment minister, Peter Kent — to imagine just that by creating a new online mapping tool.

The visualization tool, similar to one created after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, allows users to overlay an oil sands project on any chosen location in the world.

But because Mr. Kent’s home riding is Thornhill, that is the map’s default setting.
 ... Read more »


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