Dirty business that blackens Canada’s name

Policy Note, the blog of The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, noted last summer that, with attention focused on HST, few observers noticed the latest Carbon Tax increase and its regressive nature.

“When it was introduced back in 2008, the carbon tax dedicated about one-third of revenues to a low-income credit (the remainder going to personal and corporate income tax cuts). This was a big positive with households in the bottom 40% of the distribution slightly better off on average, with credits exceeding taxes paid. Alas, last year’s increase to $15 a tonne wiped out that gain because the low income credit barely increase in value (from $100 per adult to $105), while the carbon tax grew by 50%. The new 2010 increment to the carbon tax will make the whole regime regressive – meaning a bigger hit to low-income families relative to their income; they will be absolutely worse off even after considering the credits.

“. . . Like the HST, the carbon tax brings a windfall to business, with a large chunk of this year’s revenue going to corporate income tax cuts. Back in 2008, the projected recycling to business tax cuts in 2010/11 was estimated at $333 million. In the 2010/11 budget that amount has been souped up to $412 million – more than half of the anticipated $796 million in carbon tax revenues – to add onto savings coming from the HST.

“Since all taxes are ultimately attributable to households, corporate tax cuts are essentially upper income tax cuts.”

In fact, the Carbon Tax is not intended to reduce greenhouse gases. It is a method of financing cuts to corporate income taxes, cuts to gas royalties and increases in tax credits to oil and gas producers. If BC Liberals had a real interest in reduction of the human carbon footprint, they would oppose the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to a new oil export port in Kitimat. And, they would multiply the capacity for environmental oversight, regulation and inspection in BC’s northeast oil and gas fields.

Liberal and Conservative politicians, both federal and provincial, pay lip service to environmental issues. But, that is all. Stephen Harper claimed that Canada promotes “truly global action against global warming.”  Gordon Campbell‘s government said,

“. . . Earth’s climate is changing because of human activities. The effects will continue to worsen if no action is taken. That is why the B.C. Government has taken action by introducing the revenue neutral tax on carbon emissions.”

Yet, Liberals and Conservatives encourage huge increases in tar sands production, enabling massive exports to countries that will burn oil free of carbon tax. And anyone, anyone with cash, is welcome to do the dirty business that is blackening Canada’s name. We set no ethical minimums.

In late 2010, French oil giant Total announced a $1.75 billion partnership with Suncor to develop Alberta tar sands production. That followed Total’s earlier $1.5 billion acquisition of a prized tar sands property from Calgary’s UTS Energy. Total has other tar sands assets in Alberta and has plans to invest $20 billion in Canadian oil production. Almost all of its projects in Alberta are opposed by environmental groups because of greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution.

We should know the kind of company welcomed to Canada’s dirty business. The following is from High Friends In Low Places by :

“Christophe de Margerie, the chief of French oil and gas giant Total, says that as long as he’s around Total will make deals with anyone (perhaps even the devil?) to keep the hydrocarbons flowing. Strongmen and dictators, corrupt regimes, presidents and prime ministers–they’re all on his call list.

“A $2.25 billion shale partnership with U.S. gas giant Chesapeake Energy in Texas (and an option in New York) has slowed because of concerns about the rock-splitting technique called hydraulic fracturing. Environmentalists are also trying to scotch the construction of pipelines that would carry oil sands crude to U.S. refineries from Canada, where the company has sunk $5 billion in recent years to acquire undeveloped acreage.

“His favorite pet? Russia, where his relationship with Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin is “of the highest importance.” . . . De Margerie’s other major focus: Angola. Total gets a third of its daily output from Africa, more than any other supermajor. While Nigeria is the single largest contributor, it’s a security nightmare; . . .

Elf’s Floch-Prigent taken to prison near Paris

“In 2003 three [Total subsidiary] Elf Aquitaine executives were convicted of funneling $16 million a year to heads of state in Gabon, Cameroon, Congo and Angola. Elf’s former chairman Loïk Le Floch-Prigent was given five years in jail for facilitating $300 million in payments in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Iraq and Iran, by contrast, are its crown of thorns. In the 1990s both Total and Elf negotiated with Saddam Hussein’s henchmen for rights to develop the Majnoon and Nahr bin Umar megafields. At the time De Margerie was head of Total’s upstream division and the point man for talks. Saddam was eager to get the French to sign a deal that would violate the sanctions against his regime. Total did, however, transport and market a lot of Iraqi crude during the U.N.’s oil-for-food program. In 2006 French authorities held De Margerie for questioning over payments allegedly connected to Saddam’s siphoning of cash during that time.

“Iran has a fresher odor of scandal. In March 2007, a month after taking over as CEO, De Margerie was hauled in by French authorities for 36 hours of interrogation over a $2 billion deal with Iran in 1997 to develop its massive Persian Gulf gas field. In a 2007 interview with Petroleum Intelligence, De Margerie confirmed that he authorized payments of $40 million (for consulting and lobbying efforts) to middlemen–allegedly associates of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and his son.

“The company is already doing so with rogue regimes like Burma and Venezuela. Since cutting a deal in the mid-1990s, Total has been developing and piping natural gas to Thailand, earning profits estimated at more than $200 million over the last decade and helping to prop up Burma’s junta with an estimated $4 billion in revenues.”

Categories: Ethics, Fracking

7 replies »

  1. The company is already doing so with rogue regimes like Burma and Venezuela.

    I find it quite misleading and inappropriate to paint Burma and Venezuela with the same brush. Though I know the US likes to demonize Hugo Chavez and the Castros, and they are “strongmen” – the only thing they share in common with the regime in Myanmar. Perhaps having a “strongman” in charge is the only way Latin American countries can escape the fate of being used as a colonial asset to exploit by the US backed corporate elite, as the democratically elected Allende in Chile learned the hard way.(as did the democratically elected president of Iran overthrown by the CIA to install the Shah).

    There is no comparison to the Burmese situation in Venezuela and the way the current regime has attempted to address social inequality, poverty and health care for citizens not part of the oligarchy. Of course anyone in North America to the right of that commie Obama (or is that a Nazi, it depends on the last conceptually challenged TeaBagger one has heard from), has been convinced that Hugo Chavez is Hitler (or is it Stalin?) re-incarnated, when I actually think he had a point at the UN when he followed a genuine Satan, Bush the Lesser to the podium.


  2. Koot is correct. Venezuela and Hugo Chavez are targeted by US interests because they do not tolerate corrupt foreign exploitation and they aim to see national resources benefit the entire nation. Similarly, Bolivian President Evo Morales, despite being fairly elected, deals with a dangerous and shadowy opposition, largely funded from the USA.

    The fact that Total still deals in Venezuela is proof that the oil industry will adapt to countries that manage their own resources. It is unnecessary to throw away the books of rules in Canada just to please the petroleum industry.


  3. The Carbon Tax is one of the greatest con-jobs ever. Want a new politically correct tax, call it the Carbon Tax and the ecco-friendly types will champion it.

    BC does not have a Carbon Tax, because the tax goes into general revenue – a true Carbon Tax, funnels carbon tax money into transit or any other pollution alleviating program.

    The Campbell/Liberal/Jacquard carbon tax should be aptly named the “Screw the taxpayer tax”, or a more pithy equivalent.


  4. Campbell and Hansen have composed so many taxes, they are having to double up on the names. Am I right in saying, the carbon tax, is now the new carbon tax? How green is Campbell, to give the site C dam hydro, to the dirty Alberta tar sands? To bring the Enbridge pipeline over rivers, streams and lands, and bring China's dirty oil tankers into the beautiful pristine north? He should be laying the carbon tax, on China or Alberta. This tax was just another tax grab. It seems, even with all of the number of taxes, the BC people are forced to pay, none of them benefit the citizens, what-so-ever. Has Campbell thieved this province so badly, we can't recover? The stupidity of giving our enforced HST to Harper, is a total piss off. That's a tax totally useless to the province and the people. I resent giving our HST, which has really over burdened the BC people, to Harper. BC is a province of natural resources, how in the hell can the HST, be a benefit to us? Where are the jobs, Campbell and Hansen said there would be? BC has lost jobs, because of the HST, we are at the bottom, of all the other provinces. Where is the money we were supposed to save, by the merits of the HST? My cost of living has gone sky high. I am so dammed sick of Campbell and the BC Liberals lies, deceit, corruption, thieving and being low enough, to cheat to win. I swear, if Campbell comes to my area, I will throw my shoes at him, as they did to Bush.


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