Gore accuses big oil of bankrolling ToriesElection laws only allow $1,000 corporate donations
Renata D'Aliesio and Katherine Monk, Calgary Herald; CanWest News ServicePublished: Thursday, January 26, 2006
Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.
Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.
"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
"And the financial interests behind the tar sands project poured a lot of money and support behind an ultra-conservative leader in order to win the election . . . and to protect their interests."
Darcie Park, spokeswoman for oilsands giant Suncor Energy, said she's taken aback by Gore's remarks and hopes they don't resonate with Canadians.
"Our company just doesn't do business that way. We're really puzzled about where these comments came from," she said.
"Canadians understand how elections work in Canada and understand there are these very tight restrictions around what individuals and companies can contribute to individual parties or campaigns."
The federal Elections Act limits how much money individuals, corporations and unions can donate to political parties. Individuals are allowed to give as much as $5,000 a year, while companies and unions are capped at $1,000 a year.
In their election platform, the Conservatives promised to further limit individual donations to a maximum of $1,000 and ban all donations from corporations, unions and organizations.
Parties and candidates are required to make public any contributions exceeding $200.
While John Bennett, senior policy adviser for Sierra Club of Canada, isn't certain of how much oil companies and their executives donate to the Conservatives, he's noticed their language on Kyoto is similar.
"They've talked about the need for a made-in-Canada plan, which is exactly the terminology Stephen Harper used," Bennett said. "They've talked about targets for Kyoto being unreachable -- that's similar."
Gore warned that Harper wants to remove Canada from the Kyoto accord, which the United States signed under former president Bill Clinton, but has refused to ratify under President George W. Bush.
"Hopefully that will not happen thanks to the minority victory," Gore said of Canada's involvement in Kyoto.
Gore believes the issue of the oilsands and the sway he contends the industry holds with Harper didn't garner news coverage during the election because "media concentration has taken a toll on democratic principles around the world, and Canada is no exception."
Even if the Conservatives want to abandon Kyoto, Bennett doesn't think they will pull out because polls have shown a majority of Canadians support the agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely believed to contribute to global warming.
He expects, however, Harper will make little effort to fulfil the country's Kyoto commitment: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990's mark by 2012. He also predicts the Tories will halt Liberal plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large industries, such as oil firms.
"They changed the messaging, but they haven't changed their opinion," Bennett said.
"I see them moving a lot closer to the Bush government. Talk a lot, but do nothing."
firstname.lastname@example.orgPhotograph by : Herald Archive, Associated Press© The Calgary Herald 2006
With foes like Algore, who needs friends? The ink is not even dry on the election tabulations from Canada and Algore does to the new PM what he does so often to his own president. Harper is in the pocket of the oil companies and is ultra conservative.
Al, old boy, the dog don't hunt, and the Canadians are not half as stupid as you think they are.
ARC: Monterey John