It happens every July First, Canada Day: our national capital, Ottawa, throws a party complete with rock, pop, and other idols, including our dear Leader, Prime Minister Harper, making the expected comments on how great we are, and how we are the True North Strong and Free, and god bless us all. And then everybody cheers, and there are fireworks across the nation, while Canadians busy themselves with their BBQs and beers. And many Canadians like the American style we have recently adopted: the loud pride, the swagger, the nationalistic hyperbole. For others, it’s too much of that though most public festivities don’t live up to our expectations, do they? And if they did, what would this one, what COULD this one, actually look like?
What does a country showing the rest of the world what off-the-charts environmental irresponsibility looks like, do on its annual Birthday Party? What if we stopped pretending that we’re the good guys that we used to be and acknowledged that we’re at an historic turning point, one that pits the voracious predators of our precious environment, the big oil companies and Mr. Harper, against all of us. What kind of party can you throw when your government subsidizes the oil giants to the tune of $200billion per year, but can’t fund its Scientists, its DayCare Centres or for that matter, higher education. What kind of party can you throw when everyone knows there’s no national Energy Policy; the kind they have in Norway, also an oil producer. They’re sitting on billions of Euros in savings. We’re terminally in debt, and what’s more, we’re officially denying all the awful things our government is allowing to happen up in Fort Mac and the Athabasca River system.
Things like rare Cancers cropping up in the population, and in the fish.
Things like a landscape that can never be reclaimed, ruined forever, seeping carcinogens into the soil and the water.
The Fort Mac Annual Healing Walk has come and gone; it was the fifth and last one. Once again, the Aboriginal leaders and the Environmentalists and hundreds of people who want to do ‘something’, gathered, walked and prayed up there in the fly bitten, destroyed landscape just north of Fort Mac. I suspect they do it not because things change, but to keep their sanity.
Meanwhile, the battle over the Keystone XL and other pipelines keeps heating up. It will be one of the bitterest, bloodiest environmental battles Canadians have ever fought.
Anyone watching the seismic needle of public opinion knows that this is the big one, the ultimate test of our resolve to somehow figure out how to live without fossil fuels and leave most of them in the ground, as Barack Obama recently suggested to everyone’s amazement. Like all presidents at the end of their term, he feels free to speak the truth, at last.
When Canadians come to a resolution of this trillion dollar question, then we can sing and dance up on Parliament Hill. But until such a day, we’re the Melting North, Sort of True and Kind of Free.