With a mischievous half-grin on his face, Ezra Levant muses about getting the U.S. to extend the "country of origin labelling" law that’s been applied to Canadian beef to our gasoline, too.
Imagine it: gas stations would require a sign that says the gasoline in various pumps comes from Nigeria (with its record of government corruption and political instability) or from Saudi Arabia (where money is raised for terrorism and women’s rights are nonexistent).
There could be a pump for gas from Iran (which is flirting with building nuclear weapons and threatening other countries) or perhaps Venezuela (where the oil-financed government clamps down on those who dare challenge it).
And then, continues Levant, the energetic conservative gadfly who loves nothing more than to vex left-wingers and uncritical environmentalists, there would be the Canadian gas pump.
The money Americans spend there go to a stable, democratic country that has real laws and unions protecting workers, plus environmental laws that the other don’t have — and on and on.
As Levant, author of a new book called Ethical Oil — The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands, puts it, "Who would want to be the guy selling the Saudi oil?"
That, in brief, is the thesis in Levant’s book: the oil pulled from the oilsands of northeastern Alberta (and, perhaps someday, northwestern Saskatchewan) might not be extracted under perfect conditions — but it’s obtained far more ethically than in virtually any other place.
So why, then, are critics dumping on the oilsands?
Levant argues that it’s a combination of intellectual laziness, trendiness, political correctness, deceit, the financial need to whip up a sensation in order to keep environmentalists’ donations coming in — and perhaps some more sinister notices. After all, oil-producing states with shoddy records on human rights, the environment and political openness would want to keep the spotlight on someone other than themselves, so why not blame Canada?
He said that’s important to remember because other energy sources — batteries, biomass, windpower — are so far from being commercially viable for powering vehicles that petroleum, by default, will continue to power the world’s vehicles far into the future.
Better that this petroleum comes from an ethical source like the Alberta oilsands than from the other places, he argued in a talk organized by the Saskatchewan branch of the Frontier Centre on Monday.
Whenever he debates environmentalists on this issue, he said, "they don’t want to compare apples to apples; they don’t want to compare oil to oil. They want to compare Alberta’s oilsands to some perfect fuel that hasn’t been invented yet.
"Well, they’ll always win that debate — if this was a science fiction debate, a fantasy debate."