Good for Greenpeace

Greenpeace continues to draw attention to the environmental disaster associated with the development of the oilsands in Alberta.

Greenpeace continues to draw attention to the environmental disaster associated with the development of the oilsands in Alberta.

Recently, activists from Canada, the United States and France chained themselves to a giant truck after sneaking onto the Muskeg River mine site. A second group of protesters unfurled a banner on the ground that read: “Tar Sands: Climate Crime.”

And not so long ago, just as Premier Ed Stelmach was just about to deliver an anti-Greenpeace message to a Tory fundraising dinner, two Greenpeace activists dropped from the ceiling with a large anti-Stelmach banner.

“Stelmach, the best premier oil money can buy,” read the large banner with a prominent Greenpeace logo. “Stop the tarsands!”

It’s hard to ignore those sorts of antics. They tend to attract the attention of both the media and the general public.

In other words, they are rather effective.

Admittedly, Greenpeace isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Some people object to the protest group’s brazen tactics, but surely such an in-your-face approach can be justified when nothing less than the future of this planet is at stake.

As much as Stelmach and his minions like to pretend that oilsands development is environmentally friendly — they’ve even used millions of our tax dollars in a public relations campaign to make the point — there’s no question that oilsands oil is dirty oil.

The latest Greenpeace protest may have a significant impact as it was timed to coincide with a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

The protest ended peacefully with Greenpeace having made its point.

For the record, Shell responded intelligently to the protest.

“Shell has agreed not to pursue criminal charges against the protesters because it does nothing to further the climate change conversation,” explained John Abbott, Shell’s executive vice-president of heavy oil. “We rely on democratic processes to determine Canadian (carbon dioxide) policy and other important matters.

“We invited Greenpeace to discuss their climate and energy views with us directly but they chose not to do so, which is disappointing.”

Fair enough.

Now if only the provincial government would take such a mature stance concerning the oilsands.

Instead, Alberta’s Tories are pushing an unproven carbon capture plan that is expected to cost every man, woman and child in the province at least $600 with potentially very little environmental benefit.

As noted in a CBC-TV documentary, titled Crude Awakening, the oilsands are “turning Canada into one of the biggest polluters in the developed world.”

The oilsands are decimating our northern forests, fouling our waters, contributing to global warming and possibly causing a surge of cancer cases in the mainly aboriginal community of Fort Chipewyan.

Shouldn’t that worry the provincial government, and not just Greenpeace?

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.

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