Well, it certainly didn't take our new environment minister long to stir up a hornet's nest. Straight out of the starting gate, Peter Kent made a rather straight-up statement about oil-sands oil: "It is ethical oil. It is regulated oil. And it's secure oil in a world where many of the free world's oil sources are somewhat less secure."
That kind of straight-up statement is exceedingly rare for a politician to make. And, in La Presse today, though not in English, you can read the criticism of Mr. Kent expressed by Liberal Denis Coderre, the NDP's Tom Mulcair, and the Bloc's Bernard Bigras.
So here's my question. And it's a question directed at the leaders of the three parties represented above: In the past few months, Total Petroleum of France has invested more than $3-billion in Alberta's oil-sands through its acquisition of UTS Energy in October and its more recent alliance with Suncor.
Total, which is now involved in the Joslyn, Northern Lights, Surmont, Fort Hills and Voyageur projects will now be involved in the production and processing of nearly a million barrels of oil-sands oil per day, putting it on track to becoming one of the leaders in the field.
Paul Desmarais, Sr. – together with his Belgian partner – is the single largest shareholder in Total, controlling about 5 per cent of the company directly and indirectly.
His son Paul Desmarais, Jr. sits on the Board of the Directors of the company.
Do Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe think it is unethical of the Desmarais family to be making these investments in the oil sands and to be sitting on the Board of Total Petroleum?
And, while we're at it, why not ask the same question of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May?