UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Makeovers: Our selves, our oil sands 

Still the same, really

By Carolyn Pogue

I know that I could get a makeover, inject a little Botox to erase lines, lift sagging jowls, tuck, trim and colour. There’s a lot of pressure to look younger, fitter and more beautiful. It’s a growing industry, I hear. The image-makers are even trying to makeover Mother Earth. At least, in the Alberta oil sands they are.

EthicalOil.org has launched a campaign to convince us, through enticing advertising and a slick website, that Alberta oil is ethical. The logic? Alberta oil is from Canada, a democracy, rather than being from Libya, a dictatorship.

Started as a blog created by neoconservative policy analyst Alykhan Velshi to promote the ideas in Ezra Levant’s book Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands, the website and its accompanying posters set us up for a too-simple choice between good and evil.

I live with a man who has a word or two to say about the oil sands. Bill Phipps, who served as United Church moderator from 1997 to 2000, was part of the KAIROS church leaders’ tour to Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan, Alta., in 2009 to learn first hand about the effects of oil sands development on the environment and communities. KAIROS, lest we forget, is the Canadian ecumenical justice organization that lost its government funding suddenly and almost without explanation shortly after the aforementioned tour.

When Bill saw the slogan “Conflict Oil vs. Ethical Oil,” he said, “But that’s not the issue. The primary issues are the accelerated development of the oil sands to feed an oil- and consumer-addicted world, and the affect on First Nations and the land on which they depend.

“The major ethical issue is our addiction to fossil fuels, climate change and the very future of Mother Earth.

“Although Canada has a better record on ethical issues such as democracy, human rights, First Nations employment and women’s rights as well as a more stable political environment than many others who supply oil to the United States, the major ethical issues involve the titanic development itself. Therefore, the cosmetic public relations campaign represented in these ads camouflages essential ethical issues, which need serious public debate.”

Bill says he knows people in the oil patch who would welcome such a conversation. “I wish I knew people in the Alberta and Canadian governments who feel likewise.”

Spending money on makeovers might make us feel better when we look into our mirrors, at least for a while. But when we look into our hearts it’s the same old, same old. Nothing has really changed.



Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image