Nearly 24 hours of voting, 425 pages of legislation, over 800 proposed amendments: This is the marathon from which Canadian members of
parliament (MPs) emerged on June 15.
The session, characterized by the Globe
and Mail as "22-plus hours of
consecutive spanking" of the dissenting opposition parties by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper's Conservative majority government, will allow the government to
push through omnibus bill C-38.
Canadians are up in arms about the bill because it includes
legislation that will weaken and threaten the legal status of leading
Because Harper is determined to build a new pipeline out of
the Alberta tar sands, the center of Canada's oil industry with known reserves
that rival Saudi Arabia's. And he
is not about to wait for November to get it done.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have funneled
Canadian oil down to refineries on the Gulf Coast, remains in political
deadlock after the Obama administration blocked the deal in January.
Incensed by Obama's decision, Harper claimed
the pipeline process was being "held hostage" because "certain people in the
United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the
northern half of North America."
In the meantime, Harper's government, as well as impatient
oil exporters and Asian markets hungry for Canadian crude, are determined to
find new ways out of land-locked Alberta in order to increase oil export
York Times reported
on June 14 that the Canadian government has three pipeline route proposals on
"Enbridge, a transporter of
Canadian oil exports, announced a $3 billion plan called Eastern Access. It is
seeking permission to build a new "Northern Gateway Pipelines" network, to
bring 525,000 barrels a day to Canada's Pacific Coast. Kinder Morgan, a
Texas-based energy company, said it will nearly double the capacity of an
existing pipeline network along a different route."
All of these options will have to overcome staunch
opposition by indigenous groups and well-entrenched environmental interests on
both coasts. Which brings us
back to the reasoning behind the Conservative government's push to pass the
omnibus bill with the intent of weakening these groups' legal footing.
In order to further quell dissent, Harper's government has
also been going
after anti-pipeline charity and advocacy groups. A variety of groups,
including Tides Canada and ForestEthics, have been threatened with
having their charity status revoked. Canadian regulations have long maintained
that charities cannot devote more thant 10 percent of their budgets to
laws pushed through as part of the C-38 package "will bring more scrutiny
to foreign funding for charities and also how they use money for political
purposes. Charities will also have to take more responsibility for the
political activities of groups to which they give money."
The government has also insinuated that shadowy
foreign entities are responsible for funding charities in their efforts to
derail Canada's well-oiled ascendance to the status of petrostate. The
Conservatives' new efforts to regulate "transparency" in Canadian charities has
gone so far as to alarm
large foundations with names like Bronfman, Asper and Bombardier on their
Turns out even Canada is not immune to the lure of "black
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