By Robin Mathews
Monday, October 1, 2012
This column is about the sell-out of Canada, the organized, structured sell-out of Canada, the intended betrayal of Canadians. It begins with the Mainstream Press and Media, a major instrument of sell-out.
There are Canadians who persist in believing the “democracy” we live in is functional and that the Mainstream Press and Media (the MSM) are what they themselves say they are – guardians of truth and democratic freedoms. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Margaret Wente and the allegations of her plagiarism in the Globe and Mail provide a symptom of the way things are, a symptom of the sickness upon the land. She is the tiny, tiny tip of a huge unseen iceberg. Fire her, or leave her alone, and no one will notice….
Apparently, there are Canadians surprised that columnist Margaret Wente was recently discovered in plagiarism, that the Globe and Mail – her employer – “disciplined” her secretly while approving of her work. (Plagiarism is the big NO of journalism among journalists – stealing other people’s writing. But in Canada it is a lesser sin – as we will see.)
The Mainstream Press and Media (the MSM) in Canada are stranglers of Canadian democracy. They are cover-up experts of sell-out. They are hireling magicians who wave the ugly truth away from sight and replace it with pretty, plastic make-believe.
The cathedral bells have ended their mournful tolling at his death, and the hireling journalists have folded away their cotton-candy phrases extolling the greatness of E. Peter Lougheed, premier of Alberta. In that position he acted from 1971 to 1985. He claimed to be Canadian first, Albertan second, and Progressive Conservative third. The MSM (Mainstream Press and Media) repeated that and similar cotton candy fluff endlessly upon Lougheed’s death on Sept. 13, 2012. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Every evidence I can find reveals E. Peter Lougheed was one of Canada’s leading sell-outs, his reputation made by U.S. oil interests, reactionary propaganda tents like the Fraser Institute, and by Harper-style neo-liberals. All of their expressions of admiration have been repeated as gospel by the hirelings of the MSM.
Again and again he is praised for “protecting” Alberta’s oil from the incursions of Ottawa and for fighting the National Energy Program set up by the Pierre Trudeau Liberals in 1980. But something about that program must have been good. 80% of Canadians polled favoured it. 80% of Albertans polled favoured it. That last fact is now buried under the lies and propaganda of the latter-day neo-liberals. None of the journalistic hirelings I could read (or hear) described the National Energy Program clearly and fairly for audience.
If 80% of Canadians favoured the National Energy Program, then who didn’t? The people who owned the Canadian oil patch and E. Peter Lougheed – in short, the U.S. oil interests. A fundamental argument must be put forward here: E. Peter Lougheed was, I believe, first and foremost the spokeman for and protector of U.S. oil interests in Alberta and Canada. All else came after that. He was, in effect, an important bridge to Stephen Harper and the open sell-out of Canada.
When he ended his 14 year stint as premier of Alberta, E. Peter Lougheed went to Ottawa. To do what? To advise the federal cabinet on energy policy for Canada? No. To be a lobbyist for U.S. oil interests in Ottawa. An edifying picture. Just out of a job, the long-time premier of Alberta travelled to Ottawa to protect the interests of major U.S. corporations exploiting the wealth of Canada for foreign profit and power. At least he was consistent in and out of office.
Since, constitutionally, both federal and provincial governments have powers relating to energy, both could argue for final power. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution oil prices rocketted up 150%. The federal government kept a lid on Canadian prices for obvious, positive reasons. That didn’t please E. Peter Lougheed – which, as I see it, means it didn’t please the U.S. oil interests he served. In 1980, the national government put the National Energy Program in place.
When commentators say that, in March 1981, “Alberta” cut its daily output of 1.2 million barrels by 60,000 barrels “to fight Canada’s National Energy Program”, they don’t point out that the cuts would never have been made without close harmony (to put the matter delicately) between E. Peter Lougheed and the U.S. oilmen in Alberta.
In fact, the rise in oil prices produced a huge transfer of wealth from Canada to the U.S. because of the high level of U.S. ownership of the oil and gas industry. Indeed, the absence of almost any Canadian presence in the fossil fuel industry in Canada had brought about the creation of Petro Canada in 1975, a wholly-owned, Canadian corporation as a Crown Corporation. In 1973 the NDP government of Saskatchewan created Saskoil for the same reason. Both were successful, though Petro Canada faced some tough times in roller-coaster oil markets. Both were privatized by Right governments. Saskoil eventually became a part of Nexen Canada.
Nowhere (that I heard or read) did writers for the MSM, at the time of E. Peter Lougheed’s death, say what the purposes were of the National Energy Program (and, earlier, the creation of Petro Canada and Saskoil). I suggest they didn’t dare. For if they had done so, their unstinting praise of E. Peter Lougheed’s Canadianism would have looked the sham and hypocrisy it was.
The National Energy Program was designed to promote Canadian ownership, to provide oil self-sufficiency for Canada (still not achieved), to lower prices, to promote exploration, to encourage alternative energy sources, and to increase government revenues. It was the beginning of what might well have become – with care and determination – a “Norwegian model” in Canada.
Norway moved into major oil production in the 1970s. It produces much less petroleum than Canada, but it has saved $600 billion for the country’s use. Canada has a national debt close to $570 billion. Norway is free of debt and has full employment. Norway has (by careful planning) avoided a huge increase in the value of the krone (Norway’s dollar), and has no “Dutch disease” which is afflicting Canada and damaging Ontario’s economy because oil sale and tar sands development have pushed the dollar over what almost all experts agree is a reasonable value.
The story goes on … and on – of the benefits Norway has exacted from the exploitation of its own fossil fuels. (see Mitchell Anderson, Tyee, July 2012, Norway-Oil-Wealth.)
What matters most, probably, is that Norway has (a) an important Norwegian State oil company, Statoil, and others, owning almost a third of oil production, and (b) foreign oil operators pay corporate taxes twice as high as in Canada, a special oil profits tax, and follow strict regulations about Norwegian employment and technology sharing. Canada is, apparently, the only major oil producer in the world with no National Corporation!
At the grass roots, Norwegians get university education free, have universal day care, and twenty-five days of paid holiday as well as higher spending on arts and culture and health care than Canadians do.
Those of us who remember the years before the creation of Petro Canada remember also that Canada’s National Energy Board (founded 1959) was helped by information sought from major oilpatch corporations. Since almost no Canadians could be counted among them, the National Energy Board was alleged to receive regular, purposeful misinformation from its helpful U.S. advisors. The famous Leduc oil discovery happened in 1947 and by the 1960s U.S. interests had a stranglehold on the oilpatch – which E. Peter Lougheed did almost nothing to loosen.
In the early 1960s I spoke in Calgary about oil and Canadian ownership. After my address to an audience of professionals, oilpatch representatives, politicians and others, four or five Canadians in U.S. oil corporations lingered to thank me. “We sat together during your speech. You spoke our mind,” one of them said. “If we even dared to say out loud what you said here about Canadian participation in the exploitation of our own oil wealth, we’d be on the street the next day looking for a job.”
The organization I spoke for was called The Knights of the Round Table – a group which met once a month to hear speakers with ideas that would not otherwise be permitted to be uttered in Alberta.
In those years, too, I was a very minor part of a critical literary/political quarterly published out of Edmonton and concerned, mostly, with Alberta. One of my old undergraduate friends from UBC who had become an oil geologist for a major U.S. corporation in Calgary told me he took a copy of the (perfectly acceptable) quarterly into the oil company lounge for others to see. Within two hours, he reported, he was called “upstairs” and told that anyone who wanted to remain employed by that U.S. corporation would not be identified as bringing that kind of publication into the lounge.
From the start, U.S. oil interests muzzled and threatened Canadians seeking Canadian ownership. Indeed, James Henry Gray, well-known journalist and writer of prairie history, was editor of the Western Oil Examiner in Alberta in the late 1950s. No Socialist, Gray was concerned about Canadian participation in oil exploitation. At the time U.S. oil companies had control of gigantic areas of Alberta territory possessing potential oil wealth. They let small Canadian operators search parts of the ground, but under onerous and nasty terms, Gray apparently believed. The Canadians were, in fact, under U.S. owner power.
No Socialist, remember, James Gray began to ask some reasonable questions about fair Canadian participation (and benefit) from Alberta’s oil wealth. To punish him, U.S. operators withdrew advertising from the Western Oil Examiner, branded him an anti-American, forced the few Canadian operators to boycott him as well – and destroyed the publication.
By the 1980s Petro Canada had become one of Canada’s largest petroleum companies – hated by the U.S. oil owners. Petro Canada’s Calgary headquarters was dubbed “Red Square” by those enemies. E. Peter Lougheed supported U.S. oil ownership. He supported Brian Mulroney’s destruction of Petro Canada and his Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. that guaranteed U.S. power over Canadian fossil fuels almost without end (or until Canadians get a Canadian federal government with guts).
In fact, he joined the business alliance in Canada as co-chair of the Canadian Alliance for Free Trade and Job Opportunities to propagandize and push for the first Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And those who say he protected Alberta’s oil/energy independence fail to see the Norwegian example. In that country much, much, much more has been achieved for all the people from foreign participation. Clearly, Alberta’s victory was largely Pyhrric: the Alberta Heritage fund is almost empty and super-rich Alberta is about to go into serious deficit. Compared to Norway, Alberta is a basket case.
At the time of the National Energy Program the U.S. oil industry was furious at the idea of Canadians gaining an increase in oil revenues. The oil provinces – led by a much more aggressive Lougheed Alberta – argued that they, too, would “sacrifice” revenue (that would be devoted to the good of all Canadians). The argument was, I believe, mostly a mask for support of U.S. ownership.
E. Peter Lougheed helped destroy a national Canadian energy policy – a far-sighted attempt to begin organization of energy power in Canada to serve Canadians in every way. As the premier of Alberta he could have been a key and major force in building an energy structure that would have ensured strength, independence, revenue. and well-being for Canada and Canadians into the far future. Instead, he sided with the enemy. He sold out. He was not Alberta’s champion. He was, I maintain, the champion of foreign ownership of the Canadian oilpatch and an enemy of ordinary Canadians everywhere.
He is credited with encouraging various researches in the oilpatch and in the tar sands. But he didn’t create an Alberta “Saskoil”, nor did he support Petro Canada. He created a multi-billion dollar Alberta Heritage Savings Trust, never entertaining the idea he could use its pot of gold to cooperate with Petro Canada and Saskoil and make Canada dominant in the extraction, development, and refining of one of our own huge energy resources. Perish the thought.
One of the jokes in Alberta at the end of his career as premier was that he named more places, things, and awards after himself and his family than anyone in Canada had ever done … or would ever do in the future. Then, after his stint as premier, the Canadian Press story says “he moved on” after winning his fourth straight election and serving three years of that stint. He moved on, to Ottawa, to serve the U.S. as a lobbyist/supporter of U.S. oilpatch dominance in Canada.
Search the Mainstream Press and Media as you might, you will not come upon a hint of E. Peter Lougheed’s real role in the sell-out and destruction of Canada. All you will come upon, in my judgment, is pretty, plastic make-believe to hide the truth. In doing so, you will be a witness to one more evidence of the ugly collapse of the Mainstream Press and Media in Canada.
RM— Of course it could be said that things are even worse today, as China seems to be trying to wrest control of Canada’s oil patch from the Americans with the help of born again Calgarian, Treason Steven Harper. With mega naval and other military forces massing in the Straits of Hormuz and the South China Sea, to mention just two itchy trigger potential shooting wars loci for the control of energy resources that foment as I type, it would be ironic if WWIII broke out between the Chinese Empire and the US Empire, putting us in the middle. Then there’s the even more desperate looming confrontations over the resource even more necessary to life – WATER – of which Canada holds the greatest reserves on the planet. Of course China is already short of both potable water and rivers with enough water to navigate and the United States isn’t far behind, what with barges stranded on sand bars up and down the Mississippi this past summer and aquifers being drained or poisoned by fracking. industrial pollution and industrial agriculture. I don’t think it is too hyperbolic to worry about the possibility for Canada to become the Poland of the twenty-first century as both the prize and the corridor for warring super powers.
Story by Robin Mathews..
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