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Levant seeks to denormalize the denormalization that a myriad of critics are engaged in against the oil sands,
This review is from: Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands (Hardcover)This latest book from Ezra Levant was released last Tuesday. As the subtitle suggests, _Ethical Oil_ is an impenitent and unapologetic "case for Canada's oilsands". Though it may be lost on many who are unfamiliar with Levant, this book shares an interesting link with his previous book, _Shakedown_.
One of the objectives of _Shakedown_ - which, I dare say, was largely successful - was the denormalization of Canada's Human Rights Commissions (CHRCs). Levant sought to change public perception of the CHRCs from that of general positivity to general disgust such that any future discussions about the CHRCs would be over before they begin.
_Ethical Oil_ is also about denormalization. In arguing his case for Alberta's oil sands oil, Levant seeks to denormalize the denormalization that a myriad of critics are engaged in against the oil sands. Says Levant about the question of supporting the oil sands: "It's an important question to ask because critics of Canada's oil sands complain that the oil isn't just environmenally dirty but somehow has moral failures, that it is inherently evil. It's an attempt to denormalize the oil sands, to make them so morally repugnant that any debate about them is over before it starts." (p. 19)
I suppose you could say that two denormalizations amount to normalization. Levant seeks to normalize Alberta's oil sands.
The methodology of _Ethical Oil_ is to argue for the oil sands from a politically liberal world-and-life view. The question this methodology is employed to answer is not "whether we should use oil sands oil instead of some perfect fantasy fuel that hasn't been invented yet. Until that miracle fuel is invented, the question is whether we should use oil from the oil sands or oil from other places in the world that pump it." (p. 13)
Levant examines the world's official ethical indicators that are applied to oil companies and finds them arbitrary, lacking an objective basis, and unhelpful in making judgments about the ethics of energy companies (pp. 48-69).
Levant endorses ethical indicators put forward by a Canadian group called Kairos of which Levant is hardly a friend. The indicators are: (1) Justice - is there access to affordable energy? (2) Peace - do the oil sands promote peace or violence, directly or indirectly? (3) Sustainability - what's the environmental impact of the oil sands? (4) Democratic Decision-Making - is there a shared decision-making process between oil companies and citizens regarding the energy future of the citizenry? (pp. 62-64)
Compared to any other country on the planet - whether Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela, Mexico, or China - there's no doubt as to which country meets these ethical indicators and which countries do not. Canada's oil sands are a light unto a dark, dark world.
The remainder of the book is devoted to an expose of the self-righteousness, utter hypocrisy, and double standards of many of Alberta's oil sands critics, including "ethical funds" investment firms, and organizations like Greenpeace. Levant also spends time on the cancer prevalence in Fort Chipewyan.
Let's be honest. _Ethical Oil_ isn't going to end the debate on the oil sands. Nevertheless, its strength is its methodology, applying a politically liberal world-and-life view to the question of the oil sands and, on that basis, coming out in support of them. If we Canadians believe in open and honest dialogue on tough issues, _Ethical Oil_ must be welcomed to the debate.