Brit pragmatism on oilsands

The Syncrude oilsands extraction facility is reflected in a lake reclaimed from an old mine near the town of Fort McMurray in Alberta.

Credits: (AFP)


Every once in a while, when reality is looked squarely in the eye, pragmatism wins over blind idealism.

There are billions of dollars in the oilsands of Alberta, and no right-thinking government is going to leave that resource untapped and deprive its citizens of a wealth that will benefit their collective lives for generations.

That's the reality.

This undoubtedly was driven home when British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Ottawa last week for, no sooner had he left Prime Minister Stephen Harper's side, than his high commissioner to Canada was looking reality in the eye and letting oilsands pragmatism prevail.

"You have a huge sovereign resource, the second or third-largest in the world, on the border of the largest consumer of oil on the planet," British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock said in an interview. "That resource is going to be exploited.

"Name me a country on earth that wouldn't do it."

And therein lies the truth.

No country -- not a one -- would turn its back on such a mammoth resource.

Environmental activists are no doubt still reeling from Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore's pragmatic defence of the Alberta oilsands who, after 40 years of standing up for baby seals to rain forests, also has no doubt that oil use is still the future.

So, much to their chagrin, he isn't opposed to the oilsands, nor is he opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline which Greenpeace demonstrators were protesting this week during a fizzled-out rally on Parliament Hill.

Instead, he's pragmatic.

"Of course you have to move oil from one place to where the market is," Moore said in an interview. "(And) you can't stop the use of oil by trying to cut it off at the source, (or) by being against the oil production, the pipelines and the tankers that are moving it.

"The only way to reduce reliance on oil is to move to technologies that don't need it, or use less of it."

In fact, Moore gave high praise to the oilsands' land reclamation project, stating the developers are "doing as good a job, if not better, than anywhere in the world" in restoring the blighted land to its former glory.

Take that, David Suzuki.

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