Life used to be so simple. Call me naive, but I always thought to be Canadian was good. To be American was…well…less good. We Canadians represented all that was humble. All that was humane. All that was…good.

Americans, on the other hand, represented progress in the form of skyscrapers. Factory farmed food. And a barbaric health care system.

We had David Suzuki, for heaven sake. Americans had…well, they had Rachel Carson and John Muir and Al Gore. But somehow all that was eclipsed by Bush.

Indeed, at no time have these sweeping generalizations seemed safer than the past eight years. No matter our own government’s policies or agenda, it seemed positively inspired when compared to those of the Bush administration. We Canadians gazed south of the border with a blend of horror and self-satisfaction.

But that was before, in a mesmerizing election, Americans ushered in the era of Obama. And, in an utterly forgettable election, we ushered in…more of the same.

Suddenly, I long to be part of this energized galvanized community of Americans. I long to have hope. Instead I have Harper.

And I have the tar sands, which is where politicians seem intent on burying their heads. Indeed, it was only seven years ago that Ralph Klein visited Washington to try and talk the Bush cronies into investing in our tar sands (bet that was a tough sell!) and went on record as blaming the Ice Age on “dinosaur farts” and discounting any possibility that humans could be causing climate change

It astounds me that anyone – ever – thought the tar sands a good idea.

Consider this: They’re the world’s largest energy project, largest construction project and largest capital project. Apparently, to make one barrel of bitumen (the goo that is processed into synthetic crude), it takes an average of three barrels of fresh water, two tons of sand, uses up to a third of the amount of energy the barrel will produce in the upgrading. This barrel then leaves 187lbs (85kgs) of CO2, three times as much as a traditional barrel of oil. And all that is before it has even been burned.

But for the most part, the project plugs along – seemingly unstoppable.

Occasionally, we’re jarred from complacency by headlines such as those we saw late last April when roughly 500 ducks, who had the misfortune to land in a tar sands tailings pond, died.

For a brief time, it seemed the world stood still, horrified by the toxicity of these ponds. Even the federal and provincial governments quickly vowed to take action against Canada Syncrude Ltd., the company that admitted responsibility for the ducks’ demise.

But then, life resumed its normal routine and the ducks were mostly forgotten. By most of us.

Jeh Custer is an energy campaigner with the Sierra Club in Alberta. He refuses to let Syncrude or the Canadian government off the hook. He’s like the little guy in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (incidentally it’s Seuss’ birthday today - March 2nd!) who “speaks for the trees”. Custer speaks for the fowl, who were so fouled up by this obscene project. He has launched a private prosecution and will be in court this month.

Thank-you Jeh, for making my Canadian passport a source of pride again.

Leslie Garrett is a national award-winning journalist, author and editor, based near Toronto, Canada. She is the author of The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World and she has also written a dozen children’s books, including a biography of renowned environmentalist David Suzuki and “EarthSmart”, a book for young children on protecting the environment.

Visit: http://www. virtuousconsumer. com/

Via:www.greenmuze. ??m

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