Sarah Cox: On Enbridge pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is the true radical

I’ve been called some interesting things since I started working for Sierra Club B.C. five years ago. An eco-fascist, for starters. That unfortunate barb was from B.C. Liberal MLA Bill Bennett, who said that we were “eco-facists” (his spelling) who wanted to paint the province our favourite colour—green.

This week, an astounding diatribe from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tarred and feathered me and everyone else associated with Sierra Club B.C. as “radical environmentalists”. According to Oliver, we have a “radical ideological agenda” that rejects the benefits of civilization, even hydroelectricity. I guess I’ll have to unplug the computer I’m supposedly using to hoodwink innocent British Columbians into signing up for the Enbridge pipeline hearings, and to cajole misguided citizens into emailing those dastardly form letters to the Canadian government. (Oops, I mean the Harper government.)

And then there’s the secretly-backed Ethical Oil group, which calls me a “puppet” of “foreign special interest groups” and “radical foreign saboteurs”. Those foreigners are doing such a good job with theatrical illusions that I wasn’t even aware that someone was pulling my strings. Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall says “foreign billionaires” are also meddling in Canada’s affairs, but she can’t name any of them. Maybe it’s not surprising that Marshall doesn’t know who is masterminding this alleged foreign billionaire “hijacking” of Canadian democracy, because Ethical Oil also can’t seem to remember who is designing and paying for its pricey attack ads on environmental groups who oppose the China-backed Enbridge pipeline.

Our radical environmentalist agenda? A drumroll please. Are you ready to be seriously shocked? Okay, here goes. Sierra Club B.C. receives funding from U.S. philanthropic foundations. There, that old cat is finally out of the pipe. It’s been on our website and in our annual reports for decades and suddenly it’s headline news across the country. I can see the next media cycle now, and this story is only getting bigger. “Sierra Club B.C. funded by individual donors, corporations, local businesses, and governments: Telus included.”

Telus, now that is really a radical operation. Haven’t you seen the Telus ad with the singing hippopotamus?

And governments? Hold on a sec. These same environmental groups that are saying no to what Oliver calls “the biggest industrial project on the planet” are backed by governments? Yup, Sierra Club B.C.’s award-winning environmental education program has been supported by the Canadian federal government—the Harper government, the one Oliver works for—along with that hotbed of radicalism that opposes all new and existing hydroelectricity projects, the B.C. government.

Oliver calls the people who run these foreign foundations “socialist billionaires”, and says they’re meddling in Canadian affairs. And these people are supposedly hiding out in the U.S. of A. I hope someone told Rick Perry.

Let’s turn to the so-called radical agenda of one of Sierra Club B.C.’s “foreign funders”, the Wilburforce Foundation in Seattle, which has been singled out by Ethical Oil. Wilburforce, by the way, is named after the lovable pig in Charlotte’s Web whose life is saved by a barn spider. Wilburforce’s mission is to “protect wildlife habitat in Western North America by actively supporting organizations and leaders advancing conservation solutions.” These people are truly terrifying!

Oliver advocates cutting short the democratic pipeline hearing process, ignoring the strong wishes of B.C.’s First Nations and the Union of B.C. Municipalities, jeopardizing 50,000 coastal jobs with a potential oil spill, risking our famous wild salmon streams and white spirit bears, lifting a 30-year ban on oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s treacherous mid-coast, and steaming full speed along a carbon-intensive energy path that scientists like NASA’s James Hansen warn will have catastrophic consequences for global warming.

Now that’s what I’d call radical.

Sarah Cox is the communications director for Sierra Club B.C.



glen p robbins

Jan 11, 2012 at 5:56pm

This pipeline will fail in convincing British Columbians' because Ontario - Toronto has no idea what we are about - and the elected Conservative MP's are whipped.


Jan 11, 2012 at 6:16pm is the pimp of foreign multi-national oil corporations. It is time to rid Canada's parliament, political parties and candidates of corporate financial influence and to restore our democracy by taking political power back from corporations and returning it to Canadians. If Harper was forced to turn to Canadians voters to fill his coffers, he and Oliver would talk very differently. Isn't this what Occupy is all about?

Mike Puttonen

Jan 11, 2012 at 6:43pm

Joe has presented no evidence of any actual sabotage plans on the part of anyone.
By his methods, Sloppy Joe Oliver brings to mind another Joe: Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy.


Jan 11, 2012 at 9:56pm

Great mirth from SCBC. Here in the East Kootenay environmentalists have been facing attacks like this for over a decade.
The truly radical agenda we're presenting is to share this planet equtably with our children and their children while making space for all of the other creatures we share this beautiful province with.


Jan 12, 2012 at 8:29am

The WWF is a major roadblock in the fight against global warming using Big Oil money and junk science to promote its love relationship with Big Oil's natural gas product as a "transition" fuel, ignoring completely the imminent danger of a fast approaching runaway global warming tipping point.

Here's greenie superstar George Monbiot giving the WWF a well deserved boot.

"..This year, the environmental movement to which I belong has done more harm to the planet's living systems than climate change deniers have ever achieved. .."

Google "guardian sellafield monbiot"

In this case though - the northern pipeline - more by chance they've got it right.

wr lg

Jan 12, 2012 at 9:44am

Ethical Oil folks should look at who is wanting to purchase this tar crude from Canada. Two of the Chinese companies involved have some of the worst human rights records in the world. Both of these companies have contributed to the pain and suffering of people living in the Sudan with their thirst for oil outside of their own country. Systematic rape has been well documented in Sudan and other oil rich dictatorships. Like the US, China would rather burn other country's oil than their own and they're more than willing to purchase the oil from some of the most questionable human rights violators in the world.

China's militarization reminds me that militaries need oil in order to operate. It is widely acknowledged that 25% of the oil the US consumes is for military purposes. Will Canada aid China's increasing militarization by selling oil to them? Who's next, Syria? Iran?

Ethical Oil?

Jan 12, 2012 at 11:14am

Is that like an Ethical Devil who would gladly round everyone up and put
them all in hell? Do you want oil spills along the Coast? Do you want a major oil spill along the Coast? Then don't put in pipelines.


Jan 12, 2012 at 12:47pm

So let's shutdown the oilsands and all petro chemical industries. Let's let our deficits run rampant as you all cry to keep your services and support sytems in place with no economic backing. China goes to Nigeria, to Venezuela, to Russia for their oil requirements. Climate change doesn't stop or even slow down. The dictators love you and all your support for them believe me. Don't come crying to me as you look to food banks for your next meal.

it is because your not to bright

Jan 12, 2012 at 1:15pm

Petro is no big deal when it comes to people's meal as 3% of the GNP
and the subsidies that Canadians pay want me to say turn on the light and quit giving these big polluters all the tax breaks.
While people's slice of the pie has been given another slice as Canadians are cut down to size and our beautiful coast has been given a death sentence.

And BC kids are already crying

Jan 12, 2012 at 1:59pm

For their next meal because Big Corpoations get Big tax breaks thanks to the Province and thanks to the Feds and something had to give so it was easy to take it away from poor kids. Tfhe children aren't important but big business is as promises of new jobs unfold and the pink slip is there instead. BC isn't swimming in oil, yet so why would the people of the province jepordize their futures and of the generations to come to have pipelines come through? BC has little to gain but much to loose while foreign investors just pick up until they find their next victims and another dictator to make it all come true..