Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Canada becoming a petrostate?

My latest column on Scitizen entitled "Is Canada Becoming a Petrostate?" has now been posted. Here is the teaser:

Canada's increasing reliance on energy exports, especially oil from the Alberta tar sands, risks unsettling its politics and economy and turning the country into a petrostate--an authoritarian society in which dissent is stifled and enterprises beyond the energy sector are de-emphasized or even discouraged....Read more

3 comments:

Henry Warwick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry Warwick said...

I completely disagree. The USA was THE petrostate for the world for a very long time. While it exhibited a number of intensely right wing features (McCarthyism, Japanese Internment, the massacre of the Colorado Miner's strike, etc.) it didn't really slide into the twitching crypto (and sometimes, not-so-crypto) fascist state it is today until some time later.

(Note: Obama has YET to re-instate habeus corpus, much less repeal the Patriot Act)

When American Oil production was at its peak in the early 70s, the press was so strong, it took down the government with Watergate.

I think the notion of a totalitarian petrostate is more a product of weak governments of more traditional societies being warped and controlled by Euro-American influence. Canada is already part of that, and at the same time, is one of the least surveilled countries on earth.

Canada is by no means perfect or even close to it. The present gov't (the Concervatives led by Harper) is terrible. Largely incompetent, greedy, and dull. The Liberal party, unfortunately, isn't much to write home about, the NDP is too weak and fractured, and the Bloc is regional. So, while it has a vast number of problems, becoming a fascist petrostate isn't one of them.

Kurt Cobb said...

Henry,

I certainly wouldn't exempt the United States from the petrostate label. But today its fascist tendencies I think stem from other causes. Whereas Canada's energy abundance (or should I say apparent temporary abundance) has put it on a collision course with its democratic institutions which so far as I can tell have been more or less subverted in Alberta. Whether Canada will suffer the fate of Alberta is by no means certain. But I think it remains a live possibility so long as Canadians are asleep with regard to what is happening with their energy production and energy exports.

You, I know, are well aware of what is happening in the tar sands and how it has affected Alberta and is affecting Canada. How many Canadians are likewise alarmed at these developments? If that alarm is widespread, I'd like to know about it. It would make me feel a lot more sanguine about Canada's future