Alberta's Tar Sands boys are genuine operators, world class. They know how to use scare tactics to deflect problems that are ultimately of their own making. In Alberta Premier, Ed Stemlach, they have their ideal gopher.
The Tar Patch is concerned about the levels of pollution they create. Actually what really concerns them is that they might be compelled to clean up their operations. Clean up = Cost = Less Profit. The last item, profit, is taken to be a right and one that comes with precious few responsibilities beyond that of making more profit.
The ever-helpful Stemlach yesterday told the Tar Patch boys that Ottawa should but out. "We're the trustees. Those resources belong to Albertans and Albertans are the ones who will decide the best way to approach them."
So, let's get this straight: the bitumin (tar) belongs to Albertans and they should decide how it's produced although they are willing to freely share one part of the deal - the pollution - with the rest of Canada and the world. Stemlach's argument might have some validity if Alberta kept all the Tar Sands emissions in Alberta, all of it. But of course, in the many years his government has been in bed with Big Tar, they really haven't found it necessary to be particularly bothersome to this industry - not for ground pollution, nor for water pollution and certainly not for greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, Big Tar spokesman, Pierre Alvarez, wasted no time before playing Chicken Little. "There's the perception out there that the industry is just going to carry on and continue to grow regardless of what happens out there and I just don't think that is the case. ...we could be in for a period of tremendous uncertainty," Mr. Alvarez said. "When you're spending tens of billions of dollars a year, uncertainty is not helpful."
One thing is clear. Big Tar is willing to go just as far as they're shoved and not one inch further. It's a safe bet they'll continue to puff themselves up and complain and threaten. This bunch isn't going anywhere without a fight and, if it comes down to a fight, they'd much sooner fight a wimp like Stemlach any day.