Andrew Nikiforuk: Canada's Petrostate Has "Dramatically Diminished Our International Reputation"

Wed, 2014-01-29 11:32Carol Linnitt
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Andrew Nikiforuk: Canada's Petrostate Has "Dramatically Diminished Our International Reputation"

“Alberta is very much a petrostate,” says journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk. “It gets about 30 per cent of its income from the oil and gas industry. So as a consequence, the government over time has tended more to represent this resource and the industry that produces it, than its citizens. This is very typical of a petrostate.”

The flow of money, he says, is at the heart of the issue. “When governments run on petro dollars or petro revenue instead of taxes then they kind of sever the link between taxation and representation, and if you're not being taxed then you're not being represented. And that’s what happens in petrostates and as a consequence they come to represent the oil and gas industry. Albert is a classic example of this kind of relationship.”

In this interview with DeSmog, Nikiforuk explains the basics of his petrostate thesis and asks why Canada, unlike any other democratic nation, hasn't had a meaningful public debate about the Alberta oilsands and how they've come to shape the Canadian landscape, physically as much as politically.

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Jim Prentice

When you cover energy and environment issues day in and day out, you’re prone to having some pretty geeky fantasies.

Case in point: over the holidays, my mind wandered to considering what advancements in Canadian energy policy I’d put on my wish list for 2015. I could have rattled off five or 10 things, but one kept rising to the top.

If I could wave my magic wand and make just one thing happen on the energy and environment front, what would it be? I’d like Alberta to start managing its oil wealth more responsibly.

The context: as 2014 draws to a close,...

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