Suncor Energy engineer Sanjay Patel:
The other side of the debate is whether or not oil, including Canadian oil, is ethical. A lot of activists point to the objections from many aboriginal groups in northern Alberta. How is that addressed in the book?
I don’t like to use terms like blood oil, dirty oil or ethical oil.
I look at the practical side of things, whether it is an issue of First Nations or environmental issues, you need to look at the overall picture and the macroeconomic impact of the oilsands. You can’t look at one particular problem in isolation.
For instance, I know that the Northern Gateway pipeline is objected to by First Nations in British Columbia. But you also have to understand the huge benefits it will bring.
I do look at ethical oil a little bit in the ethics chapter. I know about the book from Ezra Levant and I think it’s a nice book, a nice read. He makes a strong case for the Canadian oilsands.
At the same time, the language he has used in his book has angered a lot of people and polarized Canadian oil. Justifying the Canadian oilsands by comparing Canada’s human rights record to Saudi Arabia and Iran, well, I agree that Canada is better, it’s true.
But it has polarized the debate and I personally don’t like the terms that have arisen from the debate.
So even though the intentions were good, it has done more harm than good?
Definitely, yes definitely. It’s made people angry, particularly those who care about the environment.
Well, I'm not sure about the "good intentions" bit. I think the purpose of the book just was to polarize the debate, then bully those on the anti-side of it into submission The problem is that Ezra and the people who finance him didn't realize that a healthy majority of Canadians already opposed (for example) Northern Gateway, and the book just hardened them in their opinion, as well as increased their number. As a result we've seen the government backing away from EO-style rhetoric in recent days. And as for Ethical Oil, the NGO, its website has seen no activity in almost three months, and the guy running it, Jamie Ellerton, has been tweeting more about The Raptors than the oil sands these days.