Protesters march through the tar sands at a demonstration last summer. Photo by Michael Toledano
This article first appeared on VICE Canada
A recent column in the Canadian Press by Alexander Panetta examined the changing reputation of Canada to our lovely American friends. His central thesis is that Canada, once known as a liberal haven thanks to its free health care and dank BC bud, is now being regarded as a conservative stronghold where corporate tax breaks make running Burger King easier and where oil exports are on the rise. But for others, Canada’s lefty image has taken a hit because of the way the government has taken to treating the environment and the indigenous populations.
The Keystone XL pipeline, as Panetta notes, has obviously opened up a major rift in the United States between environmentalists and business-friendly conservatives—Panetta cites a Montreal-based firm called Influence Communication that found the Keystone pipeline was the most talked about Canadian story in the American news media this year.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Republicans are “likely to easily pass… legislation next year” that could get the Keystone pipeline flowing. (Here’s where I should note that the Koch Brothers, who heavily finance Republican campaigns, are the biggest foreign leaseholder in the tar sands.) Given that oil prices are likely to remain low “for the indefinite future,” some experts suggest the price of extracting oil from the tar sands isn’t going to be overly profitable for Canada—not that that will quench people’s seemingly inexhaustible thirst for gooey black stuff.