Deadly pollution does not respect borders 

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A number of years ago I returned to Ontario to spend a couple of weeks paddling in Killarney Provincial Park. Killarney occupies a small swath of the coast of Georgian Bay. Its striking blue lakes fill cavities formed by the pink granite and white quartzite of the La Cloche mountains, an outcropping of Canadian Shield and some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet. In early August, hiking on the ancient, rounded peaks is a rewarding experience—what isn't rock is generally lush, wild blueberry bushes heavy with ripe berries.

The first night we camped on an island in George Lake. As sunlight dimmed and gloaming began to settle in, it sounded like a squadron of small planes fired up as millions of mosquitoes came to life and began a search for, well, our blood.

For the next several days and nights, we camped on O.S.A. lake, a long day's paddle from George (this lake was formerly Trout Lake but it was taken into trust by the Ontario Society of Artists and its name was changed to O.S.A. Lake). As evening approached, we prepared to either deet up or tumble into tents. None of us were keen to repeat of the first night's feeding frenzy.

But nothing happened. No mosquitoes. None.

We waited, laid on comfortable flat rocks steps from the lake, watched stars come out and the night turn black. Still no mosquitoes.

It wasn't until I approached the edge of the lake to filter some water for the morning's coffee that the mystery grew deeper ... and suggested an answer. The rock at water's edge should have been slippery with algae. It wasn't. Smooth and wet, it still afforded solid traction. I waded out into the warm water of the lake. It never got slippery.

Then the penny dropped. We hadn't seen any water foul since we entered O.S.A. No bugs on the water. No fry, no fish, no activity at all. Now no mosquitoes, no algae.

O.S.A. was a dead lake. A victim of acid rain compliments of the smelters in Sudbury and coal-fired power plants in the upper U.S. Midwest.

Who knew there was an upside to acid rain? Just kidding. As pleasant as no mosquitoes might have been, this little slice of paradise, this otherwise pristine wilderness captured so lovingly by the Group of Seven, was a glimpse into a dystopian future. It was a "natural" habitat incapable of sustaining life from the smallest insect to, ultimately, human animals.

In a nutshell, that is why Jason "Thumper" Kenney and the rest of the Conservative premieres challenging the ill-named carbon tax—more on that later—and fighting environmentalists is so very wrong. Potentially deadly pollution knows no political borders. It doesn't give a damn about your province's, state's or nation's economy. It doesn't care whether jobs in severely polluting industries disappear. Hell, it doesn't care if you disappear.

When people, environmentalists and otherwise, talk about destroying the planet, they are being both hyperbolic and inaccurate. The only thing in danger of being destroyed is the planet's ability to sustain various forms of life ... ultimately our own. The planet will do quite nicely without us. It will, in fact, heal and thrive once we've followed the other dinosaurs into the history books no one will be left to write.

But there they were, the five horsemen of the apocalypse, radiant in their white cowboy hats, considerable girths and smarmy self-congratulation at the Calgary Stampede, all flipping pancakes and talking about what a total fiasco the Liberal government is with their carbon tax grab and their anti-pipeline, anti-oil antics.

Joining Thumper was Scott Moe from Saskatchewan, Blain Higgs from New Brunswick, Bob McLeod from the Northwest Territories and Doug (Ugh) Ford from Ontario.

The inclusion of Ford was interesting. Generally, even a gathering of dunderheads like the others would be loathe to share a stage with a premier so mired in scandal and ineptitude. Ironically, it was just last week the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the federal carbon tax, aside from being perfectly legal and within the power of the federal government—for the second time—wasn't even a tax at all! They ruled it was a regulatory fee since it was imposed on industries emitting greenhouse gasses which, in turn, pass the cost on to consumers.

Far from having that ol' debil, Justin Trudeau's (JT) hands deep inside taxpayers' pockets, the "fee" imposed by the feds is returned to the provinces which, once they skim their cut, pass it on to taxpayers, schools, hospitals, etc. While it may be hard to believe, the five premiers of the provinces suffering under the federal carbon tax—the ones who refused to come up with their own plan that made any difference—and Andrew "Kewpie" Scheer know this to be the case. Nonetheless, they strut and preen and whip themselves and their supporters into a lather about this unfair tax grab. Hello, Canada; wake up!

Now, if you want to see a real tax grab in action—talking to you, Albertans—take a look at the $2.5 million Thumper has pledged to spend to investigate foreign groups who have been shovelling funds into Canadian environment organizations. "For more than a decade, Alberta has been the target of a well-funded, political propaganda campaign to defame our energy industry and to landlock our resources," so sayeth Thumper.

So what?

Even the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, a group only the most blindered right-leaning advocate would consider supportive of Liberal causes, has called this, "... nefarious, petty and a waste of taxpayers' money ..."

Given the limited terms of engagement, it's unlikely the Alberta investigators will conclude the oil patch's woes stem from oversupply—as opposed to a lack of pipelines—production costs much higher than any other major oil producer, an inferior quality product and the very free market machinations of supply and demand.

It has been Canada's courts that have stopped the Trans Mountain expansion. Oh, and I guess it wasn't relevant that the pipeline was owned, prior to the much-hated Liberal government stepping in and buying it, by a foreign corporation who funnelled millions into Alberta's oil industry! And it was a U.S. president and U.S. regulators who have stymied the pipeline headed south. And the Quebec premier who blocked the one headed east.

The cherry on top of the magical thinking at the Stampede breakfast was Thumper speculating how this display of conservative solidarity would play with the rest of the country's premiers who were scheduled to meet the next day. While this same cabal last week said JT's carbon tax would drive a wedge into the heart of the country, he didn't believe the Conservative premiers' position would. He believes the "overwhelming majority of provinces" will go along with his group's establishment of cross-country energy corridors bringing Alberta oil east and west through new pipelines, rail lines and power lines.

Should be news to the premiers of B.C. and Quebec.

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