Corporate Bullies Without Borders — Canadian Style

275px-Bob_and_Doug_McKenzie[1]Canada, the great white north — land of Mounties, lumberjacks, double-doubles, twofers, toques and universal healthcare. Nice people, one and all, eh?

Not so much anymore. At least not their corporations — specifically, in the oilpatch.

A few Canuck corporate hosers are spoiling their nations’ pure-as-the-driven-snow reputation by suing its citizenry left and right, and they are spreading the litigious beaver taint to their neighbor to the south. As Democracy Tree reported last month, TransCanada sued some Texas environmental activists into silence, but that’s just the tip the iceberg.

Canada has traditionally enjoyed broad free speech protections under their constitutional Charter — Section 2(b) states that  “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” Canadian courts have a long history of upholding these rights and consistently supporting expression over controls.

But in April of last year, the Canadian Supreme Court approved Ontario Corporations’ ability to file cross-border defamation lawsuits, which are frequently SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) meant to silence dissent and activism through unending legal harassment and intimidation. The Canadian oilpatch has a long history of SLAPPing activists, and now they can ship more than just their oil around the world– they can export legal terrorism as well.  In the wake of a dramatic increase in the use of this tactic, the Ontario government convened a group of legal experts to form an Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel whose efforts help provide some domestic protections and remedies.

As recently reported in AlertNet, these corporate bullies have found a new way to harass activist organizations within their borders. Late last year, Ethical, a lobby group for oil sands development demanded the Canada Revenue Agency (equivalent to the IRS) investigate alleged tax code violations of various non-profit environmental agencies, included among them are the Canadian Sierra Club, Tides Canada, Environmental Defense and the David Suzuki Foundation. Repeated threats of tax audits would not be covered under anti-SLAPP policies.

It’s only a matter of time before these corporations try making similar claims in the U.S., and elsewhere, about the tax exempt status of environmental non-profits. The IRS has traditionally been reluctant to pull tax exempt status from churches that blatantly engage in political speech, so let’s hope they have the good sense to say “take-off, you hoser!” to these Canadian bullies.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

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Keystone Pipeline First Challenge for Obama on Climate Change

With two new reports describing greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development as even worse than expected, environmentalists and sustainable investors are likely to scrutinize the State Department’s upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

This week, reported on two new reports analyzing potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, both of which warned that previous estimates, as dire as they have been, failed to capture completely the potential environmental impacts of a practice that has been called “the most destructive project on Earth.”

In one study, Oil Change International assessed the effects on the environment of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the refining process  More →

U.S. Grants a Keystone Pipeline Permit

“Further acquiescence to Koch Industries which is the main beneficiary of this environmental time bomb”–Ron

In January, President Obama denied TransCanada permission to build the northern part of the pipeline from Canada to Oklahoma, saying Congress had not given him sufficient time to review the environmental impact. But at a political appearance in March in Oklahoma, he announced he was taking steps to speed approval of the portion of the project running from Cushing to the gulf to relieve a bottleneck in oil supplies at the Oklahoma oil terminal.

To read more about the Obama administration’s disregard for the environment, please click here

Keystone XL: A Pipeline to Higher Oil Prices

  • Midwestern refineries produce more gasoline per barrel than refineries in any other region in the United States. That gasoline is then sold to U.S. consumers.
  • In contrast, refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas produce as much diesel as possible, much of which is exported internationally.
  • The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would divert oil from the Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. By taking oil from Midwestern gasoline refineries to Gulf Coast diesel refineries, Keystone XL will decrease the amount of gasoline available to American consumers.
  • TransCanada, the company sponsoring the pipeline, pitched the pipeline to Canadian regulators as a way of increasing the price of crude in the United States. Right now, Midwestern refineries are buying crude oil at a discount—and a deep discount at that. This allows them to produce products more cheaply than they would otherwise be able to. Building Keystone XL would change that. If TransCanada’s analysis is accurate, under current market conditions, Keystone XL would add $20 to $40 to the cost of a barrel of Canadian crude—increasing the cost of oil in the United States by tens of billions of dollars.

    To read more about the Keystone XL scam, John Boehner’s favorite legislation, considering it was his last holdout bargaining position on the last extension of middle class tax cuts, please click here