Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Canada, Alberta and Dutch Disease

It is time the Harper Government (and Alberta Government) got real in dealing with the economy, environment and social legislation. Canadians are tired of the false statements, cover-ups and narrow mindedness of Stephen Harper and his band of scripted, non-thinking parrots.

Opposition leader Tom Mulcair said last week that oil exports are inflating the dollar and hurting Canada’s manufacturing sector and exports, what is commonly called Dutch Disease. Immediately, the Government denounced Mulcair as dividing the nation. This is the normal behavior of an out-of-touch government – Ignore the message – Shoot the messenger. The Harper Conservatives have unleashed the attack dogs on Tom Mulcair. They’ve pounced on the newly minted NDP leader’s musings about the economic impact of Alberta’s oilsands to paint him as a divisive, ill-informed, irresponsible enemy of western Canada who is unfit to govern. Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is “wrong and misinformed” for his contention that the oilsands are hurting Canada’s manufacturing sector, Alberta Premier Alison Redford said. B.C. minister denounces ‘ignorant’ Mulcair remarks. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall reiterated the other premiers sentiments.

Time to eat crow.

Mulcair’s remarks are true and the Government knew this several years ago by their own studies. Government research gave them the reports in 2009, but they refused to release them. They didn’t fit into Government plans – let them stay burried. These reports have now surfaced.

Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) supports some of what Mulcair has said. The report, titled Dutch Disease or Failure to Compete: A Diagnosis of Canada’s Manufacturing Woes, concedes that Canada is suffering from a “mild case of the Dutch disease.”

Add ‘Dutch Disease’ to climate change as real phenomena denied by Stephen Harper’s neo-Conmen
David J. Climenhaga, Saturday, May 19, 2012
If the Alberta and federal governments’ mismanagement of oil sands development were not so clear and their defense of their policies not so divisive and intellectually dishonest, one could feel a little more sympathy with their foot-stomping and tears of outrage at Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair’s diagnosis Canada suffers from “Dutch Disease.”
“Economist Jim Stanford characterizes these hysterical attacks on the patriotism of anyone who dares suggest there may be two sides to the bitumen development coin as “Energy McCarthyism” by Conservative oil patch politicians like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.”

Harper government funded study arguing Canada suffers from ‘Dutch Disease’
Dean Beeby OTTAWA— The Canadian Press Published Friday, May. 18, 2012
Industry Canada paid $25,000 to three academics to produce the lengthy study, which is about to be published in a prestigious journal, Resource and Energy Economics.
“We show that between 33 and 39 per cent of the manufacturing employment loss that was due to exchange rate developments between 2002 and 2007 is related to the Dutch Disease phenomenon,” says the study.

Look at the other side of the petrodollar coin
By Jim Stanford, The Ottawa Citizen, Sunday, May 13, 2012
“It is equally clear that the Canadian dollar is overvalued, relative to both historical averages and economic fundamentals. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the current “fair value” for the Canadian dollar (based on purchasing power parity analysis) is about 81 cents U.S. Anything higher and Canadian-made products and services look disproportionately expensive (including manufacturing, services, tourism — and even Big Macs, according to the Economist’s famous hamburger index).
“Sensible policy analysis considers both the costs and the benefits of any policy choice. Where bitumen is concerned, however, even acknowledging that a coin has two sides is now denounced as unpatriotic and divisive. It’s time to end this energy McCarthyism, and have a genuine discussion about our future national energy strategy. Our goal should be to maximize the benefits, and minimize the costs, of this precious endowment of a non-renewable resource — and it’s not at all clear that the current Klondike-style approach is the best way to do that.”

Pre-budget letter to the honourable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance
“Canadians cannot afford to be complacent. International competition is intensifying, not only from our traditional trading partners but from China, India, Brazil and other emerging markets. The challenges facing Canadian companies and workers are destined to increase. As factories in Asia in particular shift from basic assembly toward higher value-added production, Canadian producers too must move up the value chain.”

Here is a sample of Canadian Government Non-Policy
Ms. Michelle Rempel (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC) Hansard: 12,05,15
“Equally important to this government is that the oil sands are developed in an environmentally responsible way. While the leader of the opposition will travel across this country and try to tell Canadians it is okay to slander people in one region, who work in one sector, against people in another, Canadians know different. They know we are united under one banner.”
“Last July, we released our integrated environment monitoring plan for the oil sands, a plan that was developed in partnership with leading environmental scientists from across Canada. It outlined the elements needed for a world-class monitoring program with a comprehensive approach that covers water, air and biodiversity. Then in February, we released a joint implementation plan describing how we would work with the Government of Alberta and industry, in consultation with other key stakeholders, to put a world-class monitoring program in place.”
“Rather than slander the sector, we worked with the stakeholders, we worked with industry and we worked with the communities to put together a plan that would ensure this monitoring system was put in place in a sustainable way.”

Let me remind Ms. Rempel, the oilsands monitoring has been in place for years. That is how scientists know the contamination level that is being created by the unshackled, virtually unregulated, oil companies in Alberta’s north. After, by my count, 5 reports by the University of Alberta and many others, it is time for action. Canada has the Environment laws, Fisheries laws, Clean Water laws, Resource Developement laws, all the law that is needed for responsible developement. What Canadians want is a Government that will act! It is rather obvious that the Budget Implementation Act C-38 is an intention to cover up the inaction on part of government.

Ms. Rempel states, refering to most recent greenhouse gas emission trend report, “–It showed that for the first time we are seeing economic growth in this country, and the stabilization of our greenhouse gas emissions.” Yes: Economic growth from selling out Canadian resources and stabilization (slightly less – not lower) of our greenhouse gas emissions because of the elimination of manufacturing and value-added production in Canada.

There is another Disease- It’s called CANCER
In Fort Chipiwan, a doctor named Dr. O`Connor rang alarm bells, when he noticed an alarming number of rare cancer cases and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus among his patients. The incidents were too numerous to ignore given the small population.
” Autoimmune diseases, for example, can be caused by arsenic, benzene and PAHs, which, as we have seen, are all present in the tar sands. O!Connor found that the sediment in which the bitumen is located also contains significant quantities of arsenic. During in-situ drilling operations, arsenic is brought to the surface where it is mixed with surface water. As a result, high concentrations of arsenic end up in the company tailings ponds, which, in turn, leak into the surrounding groundwater systems.
” The Golder report, which had been prepared by a consultant firm for Suncor in 2005, predicted that the arsenic in moose meat – a staple of the diet for most First Nations in the region – could be 453 times the acceptable levels in the future.
“Prof. Schindler was one of about 60 witnesses to testify before the committee during meetings in Ottawa, Ont., Edmonton, Alta., and Calgary, Alta. He told the committee that work he has done indicates the oil sands industry activities are adding largely to airborne and waterborne contaminants in the Athabasca River. Downstream from oil sands sites, he said he found high contamination of cancer-causing substances in melted snow.
His research team also found high concentrations of contaminants known to be in tailings ponds, which hold liquid mining waste. That indicates tailings ponds have leaked, he said. “Oil sands companies should be charged under the [federal] Fisheries Act. Clearly, they’re discharging deleterious substances into fish-bearing waters. One wonders where the enforcement of this act is,” he told the committee in March.

Confronting GHG emissions from the energy sector, coal, oil and gas, and emissions from these fossil fuels within home boundaries including exports that are combusted in other jurisdictions, is the biggest challenge facing the Canadian economy. Economic policy need not be a contradiction to climate policy. This challenge, and its social justice transitional issues, must be acknowledged if Canada is to be a real climate action leader.

The reality check comes from estimates of the world’s carbon budget – the total stock of emissions that can be emitted between now and 2050 by everyone worldwide, consistent with a reasonable probability of keeping global temperature increase under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Above 2 degrees Celsius, it is widely believed that we will lose the ability to stop climate change, and runaway global warming could be the result. This global carbon budget is estimated to be just over 1 trillion tonnes of CO2. We can only ignore the science to the detriment of Canada’s future and those who will eventually have to pay the price for our greed.

We are all addicted to the energy provided by cheap and abundant fossil fuels, the challenge to the Canadian governments is to reshape our economies and societies in fundamentally unsustainable ways. When it comes to addiction, we have learned not to crack down on the users of drugs (fossil fuels), but instead focus our efforts on the dealers, the resource industry, while offering alternative choices to users.

Social Consequences to unregulated developement

“a significant negative relationship between the money countries extract from national resources and the knowledge and skills of their high school population,” said Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the PISA exams for the O.E.C.D. “This is a global pattern that holds across 65 countries that took part in the latest PISA assessment.” Oil and PISA don’t mix.

“in countries with little in the way of natural resources — Finland, Singapore or Japan — education has strong outcomes and a high status, at least in part because the public at large has understood that the country must live by its knowledge and skills and that these depend on the quality of education. … Every parent and child in these countries knows that skills will decide the life chances of the child and nothing else is going to rescue them, so they build a whole culture and education system around it.”

“When you don’t have resources, you become resourceful.”

There is an important message for the industrialized world in this study. In these difficult economic times, it is tempting to buttress our own standards of living today by incurring even greater financial liabilities for the future. To be sure, there is a role for stimulus in a prolonged recession, but “the only sustainable way is to grow our way out by giving more people the knowledge and skills to compete, collaborate and connect in a way that drives our countries forward,” argues Schleicher.

In sum, says Schleicher, “knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.” Sure, it’s great to have oil, gas and diamonds; they can buy jobs. But they’ll weaken your society in the long run unless they’re used to build schools and a culture of lifelong learning. “The thing that will keep you moving forward,” says Schleicher, is always “what you bring to the table yourself.”

The prime example is Alberta:
Highest Resource Developement/Export in Canada
Richest Province per Capita in Canada
Lowest Personal Taxes in Canada
Highest Secondary School drop-out rate in Canada – 15%. Source: Statistics Canada
Highest crime rate in Canada – 18% over National average. Source: Statistics Canada
Highest drug use per capita of which Canada is the 4th highest in the world
Highest homelessness per capita, third-largest shelter population of all Canadian cities and likely to double in 5 years Source: Calgary Herald

“It is only in Canada that the national government has completely withdrawn from social housing. Who would have imagined that a system fought so hard to get, could quickly vanish. If we continuously download responsibility on to others, we will only create more problems and more homeless people in our nation.” Lindsay Buset, B.A. Developmental Studies/Inclusion – University of Winnipeg 2009

A Government that refuses to listen to their own advisers, rams through policy without direction, lies to the house and the people, covers up their own mistakes, denies debate, intimidates critics, and ignores scientific research, that government is not democratic. That is dictatorship. Panda Politics

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