CKNW’s morning show featured Fraser Institute alum Kathryn Mitrow Marshall, who is now labouring for Ethical Oil, an ironically named lobby group with close ties to the Conservative Party of Canada and, of course, the tar sands extraction industry. Both Kathryn and husband Hamish Marshall are go-to ‘experts’ on anything and everything when corporate media want to relay messages from sponsors disguised as news content.
The Marshalls have long chased the rewards of service to the rich and powerful and they’re doing well. Which, to me, makes Kathryn’s remarks particularly shameful as she ignores human tragedies of impoverished Northern Albertans while trying to discredit opponents of dirty oil such as Ecojustice.
Ms. Marshall claims that, for taking a fraction of their funding from foreign sources, conservationists should be ignored in any debate about the need for caution in exploiting the tar sands. (By the way, who are the true conservatives in this debate.) The argument that no foreign environmentalist has an interest in the largest and most destructive industrial project in human history pleases its creators but making the claim assumes that Canadians are astonishingly stupid. it is like suggesting that North Americans should have taken no interest in restoration and preservation of European cultural monuments after WWII.
Indeed, Ecojustice and other environmental organizations received a few tens of thousands of dollars from American foundations with social conscience. Compare that against the tens of billions of dollars from foreign controlled oil producers and nations such as China and India. Industry is spending more on PR campaigns than they are on monitoring pollution and treating the extraordinary levels of cancer suffered by First Nations people as their traditional lands are poisoned. Against the flood of false rhetoric from people like Kathryn Marshall are the quiet spoken victims and others who understand the true meanings of human dignity and ethical action.
Tar sands plants are releasing 13 toxic heavy metals into the Athabasca] River, including arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium.
Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton
“One thing that is really odd is that while industry is denying that anything is going into the [Athabasca] river, they have to report their emissions to Environment Canada. They tripled the output of mercury into the environment between 2001 and 2008. They same thing for lead; lead’s gone up four fold in six years. The same for arsenic. It’s gone up three fold in seven years. We conclude that the oil sands industry is adding substantial amounts of contaminants to the river.”
Dr. Gina Solomon, Professor of Medicine, University of California, speaking in Fort Chipewyan:
“The cancer rates is this community are quite a bit higher than would be expected. The rates of leukemias and lymphomas were about three times higher than would be expected. The rates of bile duct cancer were seven times higher than expected. The things that are interesting and worrisome about those particular cancers is that they have already in scientific studies been linked to exposures to petroleum products.”