Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.


Harper's oily case for 'ethical oil'

Harper's oily case for ethical oil |
First of a series on the politics of oil and Canada's climate change goals.
Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent think they have come up with a game changer on the environment. When you hear about the many issues surrounding the development of the Alberta bitumen sands, they want you to answer that in spite of all that, Canada's "ethical oil" is the best, considering the alternatives.

"Ethical oil" is the notion that Alberta bitumen is an "ethical" source of energy that Americans should choose compared to oil from OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela where, it is alleged, oil production assists dictators and human rights abuses. The "ethical oil" idea is the brain child of right-wing spinner Ezra Levant whose book by the same name is the speakers' notes for PM Harper and Kent.
Let's sort out the spin. Ethics are a human guide to action based on a moral code governing our appreciation of right and wrong. Conservatives have their ethics; I have mine. But there is nothing ethical or unethical about oil, or bitumen, and there is no such thing as "ethical oil."
 There are, of course, substantive environmental, social and economic issues about bitumen production, from greenhouse gas emissions and toxics to exporting jobs down pipelines. And these issues have nothing to do with human rights in OPEC countries.
Even if we accept that ethics vary according to the moral code we carry, keeping one's commitments is fundamental to most ethical frameworks. That happens to be an ethical problem for Harper's government which is at the root of Canada's disrepute in international climate change conferences. His government not only failed to keep its treaty commitments, it didn't even try. To have done so would have required regulating our oil industry's greenhouse gas emissions....

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