If the Liberals insist on supporting the Athabasca Tar Sands, here's how they should go about it.
Shift priorities from expansion of the project to instead tie environmental remediation (the lot of it - water usage, natural gas usage, tailing ponds and CO2 and heavy metals emissions) to expansion. "Make your bed, clean your room, then we'll talk."
Big Oil won't like it, Stelmach's Alberta Tories won't like it, Harper's bunch won't like it either but, Mike, let's be realistic - you're not going to get their votes anyway. Big Oil won't like being in the "put up or shut up" box. They've been promising to clean up their ways - forever. Long on promises, very short on action. Stelmach won't like it but, hey, what's wrong with that? As for Harper, if you play your cards right you could give him fits.
Promise a full and open environmental assessment of the Tar Sands including the Athabasca and Peace Rivers, the tailing ponds, the realistic prospects for carbon capture and sequestration, Upgrader Valley and the associated transportation and pipeline systems. You might even point out there hasn't really been a comprehensive assessment yet, at least not one that hasn't been utterly laughable. It's a reasonable policy and the Libs will get a lot of support from Canadians who are angry and frustrated at our country having been transformed into a global environmental pariah.
Be prepared for a lot of push back from the province and Big Oil. They'll push back as hard as they can because they don't have any choice. A rigorous and wide-reaching environmental evaluation puts their adventure, at least the way they've run it so far, in real jeopardy. It would undo the wildly and deliberately untrue public relations cloak they've crafted for the Tar Sands to hide reality from the Canadian people. Most of all they would fear that information getting into American hands.
Sooner or later the Liberals have to stand up to the Tories and Athabasca is a good place to do just that. It's a good place because you can stand up to them by being reasonable. Those who oppose this would be those who look unreasonable, irresponsible, greedy and deceitful. Does it get any better than that? And all you're really doing is scrutinizing them and their ways. It's being dragged out into the light of day that they most fear.
And, while you're at it, take a look at the proposed tanker pipeline and whether we really want heavily laden oil tankers plying the treacherous waters of the Second Narrows and Vancouver's inner harbour.