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NPA's Anton pens love letter to the oil sands

Had Suzanne Anton won Vancouver's last mayoral election, city hall would be a lot friendlier towards the oil sands industry and plans to greatly increase the amount of bitumen crude passing through Vancouver harbour.

That's the message former Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Anton sends in her July 2 article posted on the City Caucus blog headlined "Appreciating the oil sands."

Anton accuses Gregor Robertson, who defeated her in last November's municipal election, of "unthinking criticism" when he "stamped his foot and said no more tankers, taking an (sic) direct swipe at the industry."

She lumps Vision Vancouver's Robertson in with other politicians who have questioned Canada's approach to developing the oil sands.

"Thomas Mulcair's strong dislike, Dalton McGuinty's scorn, NDP leader Adrian Dix's grumbling and the Mayor of Vancouver's outright non-support all demonstrate a lack of leadership and an unwillingness to consider how important the oil sands are to Canada."

"We live in an (sic) world running on oil," Anton declares, "and Canadian oil is as good as it gets."

Anton makes no mention of the high amount of energy required to extract bitumen, causing the resulting crude oil to be among the highest in total greenhouse gas emissions.

Nor does she acknowledge concerns about a toxic spill of bitumen/condensate mixture, called "dilbit," from a pipeline or tanker. A recent Tyee article analyzed the 2010 dilbit spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River and outlined the evacuation crisis and near impossible cleanup a serious spill in Vancouver harbour likely would cause.

"We all want the oil sands producers to get it right, to restore their sites when done, and to mine in a responsible way," writes Anton.

But environmental groups who oppose the oil sands, she says, are merely pandering in order to raise money.

While giving no evidence, Anton also hints at a U.S conspiracy to keep Canadian oil available for its own interests.

"For the environmental groups, the explanation for disliking the oil sands is fairly straightforward. If you can make a point which your supporters love and will support with cash, then that's a fruitful point for you to be making. There are some who believe that Americans are conspiring to keep oil imports cheap by blocking our access to other markets, which is possible but difficult to prove."

Anton, who has supported bike lanes and eco-density in Vancouver, writes, "It's good that as a society we try to reduce our collective carbon footprint." In her post she doesn't point to the oil sands as a place to do so.

A Tyee Solutions Society series launched in June examined the underreported consensus within the oil industry and among 150 Canadian CEOs that a carbon tax would be a way to fairly share the burden of combating climate change and allow industry to plan more securely for the future.

The series, funded by Tides Canada with full editorial independence accorded to reporter Geoff Dembecki, explored the potential of the oil sands to be part of Canada's transition to a greener, renewable energy-based economy if managed and regulated differently.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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