Power and Politics in the Tar Sands

I’m no political scientist, but I have been following provincial/federal politics in this country for decades. Just for fun, I’m rereading Larry Pratt’s 1976 book The Tar Sands. Pratt died in 2012 but during his lifetime in academia at the University of Alberta and later as a writer and researcher with the Parkland Institute he wrote reams and reams of analysis of the oil industry and politics. His 1976 book, The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil traces the process by which Syncrude was bailed out by the Canadian government with help from some provinces.

LarryPratt

You’ll notice that the drawing on the cover of Pratt’s book includes a brilliant caricature of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Fascinating how after 42 years, father and son (Justin) have been captured by the oil industry. In 1974 the government bailed out Syncrude to the tune of $2 billion. That would be a lot more now, probably akin to the $4.5 billion the government is paying Kinder Morgan for its pipeline to nowhere.

This book will make interesting bedtime reading, but, after reading a few pages, I reckon I just have to watch the CBC news to get the story. The players may have changed, but the politics haven’t. Of course, the stakes are higher now and the dynamics are somewhat different but Pratt’s 1976 conclusions hold today. Canada is being held hostage by the oil companies and the federal government doesn’t have the guts to stand up to them and deal with the attacks on sovereignty they represent.

More later.