A number of people, including Canada's prime minister and environment minister, have recently attempted to reshape the debate around Canada's tar sands. In response to growing public concern over the environmental impacts and social justice issues in the oil patch, a new line of messaging has surfaced trumpeting the "ethical" virtues of our reserves over those of other nations.
Debating the ethics of the oil sands while omitting the impacts on Aboriginal communities, watersheds, critical habitat, and climate change is intentionally deceiving. Playing public-relations games will not make these very real challenges disappear.
Tonight (January 27), Canadians will have an opportunity to take a closer look at the issues at play when Tipping Point: the Age of the Oil Sands, a special two-hour presentation of The Nature of Things, airs on CBC TV.
The documentary weaves together several storylines. Renowned freshwater scientist Dr. David Schindler discovers higher-than-expected levels of toxins in the Athabasca River, which has since led to several independent investigations revealing a decade of incompetent pollution monitoring funded by industry. Dene Elder Francois Paulette speaks out about the people of Fort Chipewyan, who have had their health and way of life acutely affected. And Avatar director James Cameron visits northern Alberta, casting the environmental impacts of the tar sands into the international spotlight. These stories merge in the climax to show how the various efforts have led to change.
One film can't change Canada's energy landscape overnight, but an informed and engaged citizenry can do its part by not letting critical issues go unaccounted for. Getting up to speed on the problems facing Canada's largest energy project is a good place to start. I'll be tuning in this evening, and I hope you will too.
Tipping Point: the Age of the Oil Sands, a two-hour special of The Nature of Things, airs Thursday, January 27, at 8 p.m. on CBC TV, repeating Saturday, February 12, at 7 p.m. EST on CBC News Network.