"The system is broken," he wrote. "It is an urgent matter of Canada's national interest."
"Canada's national interest" here being the proposed Enbridge tarsands project and the Cons need to derail the shitstorm of protest coming down the pike at them by discrediting pipeline opponents as unpatriotic pawns of sneaky foreign astroturf experts.
About those radical foreign special interest groups.
Carol Off noted that 4,522 individuals had registered to make their allotted ten minute submissions to the hearing.
Yup, said Oliver : "thousands of people repeating repeating the same the same studied lines."
Well, said Off, most of them appeared to live along the proposed pipeline route, and in looking though their requests to appear before the hearing listed on the Natural Resources website, "19 of the 4500 people were registered in the United States."
A regular juggernaut of 19 jet-setting hi-jacking celebrity furriners, each speaking their allotted 10 minutes in their radical 'quintessential American approach' .
How will Canada's national interest ever survive three hours of it?
And yet, continued Off, "on that list, the foreigners appear to be mostly oil companies."
Well that's different, explained Oliver. They're bringing tens of billions of dollars to "diversify our markets to Asia" .
But "the concern here is that foreign influences do not have Canada's best interests in mind," pursued Off. "How is it that you can trust the foreign oil companies who are intervening to have Canada's best interests in mind?"
Because they're bringing their own money, repeated Oliver.
Here's the show. Complete transcript below.
Well done, Carol Off.
"Canada's economic development is being hindered by radical environmental groups financed from the US.That was the thrust of an open letter published today written by Canada's Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver.
In the letter Mr Oliver called for a revamp of how environmental reviews are done, namely that they be protected from interference by environmental lobby groups. This comes just one day before the public hearing into Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway project. if approved the pipeline will run from the Alberta oil sands to the coastal town of Kitimat, BC.
We reached Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, on his cell phone in Toronto."
Carol Off : Mr Oliver, who are these radical groups you mention in your letter?
Oliver : Well I'm not going to name names but there are, as people know, a number of groups who are opposed to the development of hydro carbons - they even oppose hydro-electricity development. I don't know where they think we're going to get the energy to maintain our current level of civilization but that's where they're coming from and they're trying to game the system.
Carol Off : Why can't you tell us who they are?
Oliver : Well because I don't think we need to get into that level of specificity. The point is they're there, some of them are being financed by, er, by groups, and we think that these decisions which are so important for the Canadian economy, for Canadian jobs, should be made by Canadians in Canada.
Carol Off : If you can't tell us who the people are that you're concerned about - the radical groups - can you tell us what their sources of money are?
Oliver : Well we know for example the Tides group is one but there are others that are providing, er, that are providing funding, and that information I think is available or will be available.
Carol Off : And do they have less money or more money than the oil companies who are lobbying to have the project go through.
Oliver : The issue is what they're using the money for and how much money is being used.
Carol Off : There are 4,522 individuals who are registered to make oral statements, according to your website - they will get about 10 minutes to do that - and 216 registered intervenors. How many of these are under the influence of these radical groups?
Oliver : Well I don't know precisely but it's uh ... and I don't want to get into that particular project which is under regulatory review ... but this is not an unknown tactic where a particular organization will send many of its members in to repeat the same message. In a court environment that wouldn't happen; the court would take a count of the numbers but they would wanna hear from people who have something new, different, and relevant to say ... rather than just you know thousands of people repeating repeating the same the same studied lines.
Carol Off : Well, these kinds of hearings, especially something this large, often attract hundreds and even thousands of people who have something to say, and just looking at the website, on your Ministry of Natural Resources website, it shows that most of these people appear to be Canadians who live along the pipeline route. In fact we found 19 of the 4500 people were registered in the United States.
Oliver : Well the issue ... and some from you know Venezuela and so on ... but um the issue is whether people who are participating - and that's something that the panelists will look at - but just as a broad statement, yeah, the issue is whether panelists have something new, different, and relevant to say or whether they're just simply parrotting a message. You know what these letters are, and we receive them and I imagine CBC sometimes receives them as well, where people are basically have been given a line and they just add their name to essentially the same letter. When we receive that, we take account of the numbers but understand that the hundreds, the thousands of letters relating to a particular issue represent a particular perspective. It's relevant to know how many people have that perspective but we don't have to take each letter and question each person if they're merely using a form to sign a letter. I think everyone understands that and it's the same kind of issue in respect to an oral presentation.
Carol Off : So the letters and oil statements are just simply that - they make a statement or sign a letter - but the intervenors are obviously more important where they can actually cross-question, and on that list the foreigners appear to be mostly oil companies.
Oliver : Well I was talking about foreign money supporting Canadian intervention. The distinction here which is fundamental is that there are a number of foreign companies who are supplying capital to finance this project. This is the largest industrial project in the entire world. We don't have enough capital in Canada to finance it therefore we have welcomed foreign investment from the US, France, England, China, and other countries - companies who see the economic prospects for the development of our resources and are investing tens of billions of dollars to advance the creation of infrastructure which will help us in our in our historic choice here to diversify our markets to Asia.
Carol Off : But I guess the question is .. the concern here is that foreign influences do not have Canada's best interests in mind. How is it that you can trust the foreign oil companies who are intervening to have Canada's best interests in mind?
Oliver : Because they're investing in Canada and their financial success is tied to the success of the projects which are Canadian projects which will generate employment and economic activity for Canada.
Carol Off : But not necessarily tied to the protection of the Canadian environment and to Aboriginal rights.
Oliver : Those issues have to be dealt with by objective regulatory review which will hear the interests of the Aboriginal communities and of environmental groups. I have no problem and neither does the government have any problem with Canadian environmental groups presenting their case because at the end of the day we want these projects to be safe for the environment and safe for Canada.
Carol Off : Mr Oliver, thank you for your time.