We generally get the same straw man arguments over and over again so over the next little while I wanted to take some time to answer them.
If you encounter these arguments in your travels feel free to forward this response.
Criticism 2: You’re all foreign funded radicals. You’re puppets of foreign masters, have huge budgets and are out to ruin the economy. Puppets!
Answer: Let me answer this in three parts.
Firstly, Greenpeace was born in Canada. The four Greenpeace Canada campaigners who work on tar sands issues were all born in Canada. Three of us were born in Alberta, home of the tar sands. Although we talk to other Greenpeace offices around the world, we set our own Canadian campaign priorities.
We work on the tar sands because it is one of Canada’s largest environmental threats. Briefly, here are ten reasons why we oppose the tar sands:
- The Beaver Lake Cree have recorded more than 20,000 treaty rights violations on their traditional territory due to tar sands development.
- In order to avoid runaway climate change, UN Climate chief Christiana Figueres stated bluntly, “Two-thirds of the fossil fuels we have will have to stay in the ground.” That means many tar sands projects can never be built if our world is going to have a chance.
- According to the Harper government’s own numbers, emissions from the tar sands are set to quadruple.
- Alberta, home to the tar sands, has disturbed the natural landscape more than any other province is Canada.
- A new study shows that when mixed with sediment, bitumen sinks in salt water, making a tanker spill almost impossible to clean up.
- Over 130 First Nations have signed the ‘Save the Fraser’ declaration opposing tar sands development on their traditional territory.
- The oil industry literally re-wrote Canada’s environmental laws to further foster tar sands development.
- Alberta enforces less than 1% of tar sands environmental violations.
- After 8-months, four CNRL tar sands spills are still spilling. This is supposed to be the environmentally friendly form of tar sands development.
- A recent federal study showed that toxic tailings are leaking into the Athabasca River at a rate of 6.5 million liters per day.
Secondly, over 95% of Greenpeace Canada’s funding comes from our amazing network of dedicated individual donors, with the vast majority small, monthly donations. We don’t accept corporate or government funding, and only rely on foundations for a small part of our work. The foundation funding we do get doesn’t affect what we work on. We come up with our own goals and objectives and focus on the areas of biggest environmental concern. Suggesting we are being guided by someone else’s hand is insulting.
Thirdly, we don’t have a huge budget – especially when you compare it to what we are up against. Our entire non-staff budget for the tar sands campaign is less than one per cent of what the federal government has budgeted for pro-tar sands ads alone this year. Now add in the PR and lobbying budgets of Exxon, Shell, Total, Syncrude, Suncor, Cenovus and CNRL, along with the Alberta government and you start to get a more realistic picture of the situation we are in.
In this David and Goliath struggle we are definitely not Goliath.
If you’re concerned about funding, rather than attacking environmental and social justice groups, you should be worried about how many tax dollars are being spent on industry propaganda or where groups like Ethical Oil get their funds from.
We do what we do because we love this province and this country and we know that we can do better than what the toxic tar sands offer.
It’s possible to make a better Alberta and a better Canada.
Let’s move past these tired straw man arguments and begin addressing the real issues. Our planet, our children, and we ourselves deserve much more.