What Happens When Big Business Takes Over Government

What happens when an industry sets out to take over a government? Just ask the good citizens of Canada.

This past weekend, a train carrying an unknown amount of crude oil derailed in northern Ontario, Canada, spilling oil and causing a large fire. Twenty-nine of the train’s 100 cars derailed and at least 7 caught on fire.

Canada’s CBC network is reporting that an “unknown amount” of oil spilled from the cars.

The Ontario derailment and spill comes almost two years after the deadly oil train derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people and destroyed that town’s center.

In part - because of these oil train disasters - Canadian citizens are pushing more and more for that nation to end its toxic addiction to fossil fuels, and to instead turn to cleaner and greener forms of energy.

Those citizens, however, and their protest efforts, have now attracted the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

As a result of that going public, an intelligence report released by the RCMP on the growing environmental movement in Canada is gaining a lot of attention – and criticism.

The report specifically looked into Canada’s growing fossil fuel industry, and its opposition.

Critics of the report have highlighted several flaws with its findings and construction.

For example, it downplays things like the relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming, and relies on newspaper opinion columnists for intel and information.

The RCMP report also claims that there’s, “a growing, highly organized and well-financed anti-Canada petroleum movement.”

But, the most disturbing thing to come out of the report is the apparent RCMP labeling of environmentalists and activists as “militants and violent extremists” who are part of the “anti-petroleum movement.”

The report also links well-known Canadian environmental and activist groups, “to growing militancy in the ‘anti-petroleum movement’.”

In a statement made to The Globe and Mail newspaper about the report, the RCMP said that, “there is no focus on environmental groups, but rather on the broader criminal threats to Canada's critical infrastructure.”

But that statement aside, why would the RCMP go out of its way to seemingly label peaceful activists and environmentalists who are against more oil and gas drilling as “militants and violent extremists” who are part of “a growing militancy”?

Well, as PressProgress points out, the conservative Stephen Harper-led Canadian government, “already has a proven track record for gathering intelligence on opponents of the oil sands.”

For example, according to Canadian government records, back in 2011 the Harper administration and Canada’s top spy agency held a national security briefing for Canada’s energy companies on the “challenges” created by environmental groups.

Sounds a lot like how our FBI treats environmental groups like Greenpeace and Earthfirst as groups that might pose some kind of marginal threat.

And that’s because, much like our government, many of Canada's politicians are completely in bed with Big Oil and the fossil fuel industry.

Stephen Harper’s government is filled with ex-Big Oil guys, and his campaigns have allegedly benefited from millions of dollars in Big Oil donations.

So, it seems logical that Harper’s government would bend over backwards and do everything in its power to make its Big Oil backers happy, even if that means labeling perfectly peaceful environmentalists and activists as “militants” and “violent extremists.’

What’s going on in Canada right now is a perfect example of what US Vice President Henry Wallace warned us about in 1944.

Rich capitalists are taking over the government and combining the powers of the market and the state, so that they can destroy any chance that democracy can regulate them.

And, at the same time, they’re using the apparatus of state oppression to silence those who might threaten the corporate state and its quest for more power and money.

Sure, there might be a few fringe environmental groups in Canada that have discussed or used violence to achieve their goals, but what the RCMP report is really about is demonizing anyone who might prevent Big Oil from making money and growing the corporate state in Canada. It’s really that simple.


Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 17 weeks ago

Canada is very different when it comes to the energy business than the US. The country not the land owner owns 100% of the mineral rights. Canadians can use the surface only. So all Canadians benifit from the royalties so there is very little opposition when it comes to our energy business. The groups you talk about are very small and are largly funded by Americans. Ironically the Rockerfellers donated 7 million for anti oilsands ads. Thoms making this out be be a much bigger deal up here than you think.

What is important here is that you know that Canada ships about 450,000 Barrels per day of oil via rail to the US. I have warned you about it many times here on Thoms blog. Warren Buffets railway is the one that transports it. Hummm didn't he donate a ton of money to Obama's campaign? That wouldn't have anything to do with the President's opposion to Keystone would it. Nooooo. Well maybe.

Even though 70% of Americans approve of Keystone and every state it runs though has approved it. After six years there still isn't a decision made. It's no big deal I guess it only costs your favorite neighbor and biggest trading parnter about 50 million dollars a day.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 17 weeks ago

There has been, in recent decades, what has been called a "Green Scare" in the U.S. where environmentalists, some "vandalous", i.e., destructive of the property of polluters and environmental abusers, sometimes on a grand scale, but many entirely peaceful protesters and whistle blowers, were given inordinately long prison sentences or placed on a "no fly" or other black list, apparently for their environmentalist motives.

"Capture" of government by business seems to be conservatives' purpose, not the supposed reduction or elimination of government. They want only to eliminate the democratic character of government, i.e., government's capacity to serve the people, not government itself.

Indeed they couldn't even function or exist themselves in the entities and roles they created without government. There could not be any business or even be any any private property rights without government supporting and enforcing them and the laws founding them - and these are the only roles they want government to fullfill, none that serve the people in any way.

Thus they are not against government, like they say. Rather, they are against democracy and democratic government.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 17 weeks ago

As per todays discussion on the show re. WWIII:

"The Islamic State terrorists are portrayed as an enemy of America and the Western world. Amply documented, the Islamic State is a creation of Western intelligence, supported by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad and financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar."

Check out 'The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq. Towards the Creation of a US Sponsored Islamist Caliphate'

...and; 'Millions of Evangelical Christians Want to Start World War III … to Speed Up the Second Coming'

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 17 weeks ago

Kend -- Is that $50 million cost really just profit that cannot be harvested?

Why would a US voter want to provide profit to Canada when the XL Pipeline will raise the price of gasoline in the US according to Trans-Canada?

The XL pipeline will only provide 56 permanent jobs according to the CEO of the company running the XL pipeline. Every train that ships the oil requires 2 engineers. That sounds like a big reduction in the number of jobs in the US.

How much of the oil is shipped by trains under the purview of Buffet?

Is anyone using the double lined train cars?

I am sure the oil oligarchs would like to hide as much of the environmental damage that tar sands does as possible underground.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 17 weeks ago

Kend -- Are you aware of the fact the last November before the election only 83% of Americans knew which party controlled the House of Representatives.

As much money as the oil oligarchs give to our media 70% should not be a surprise. We have a lot of commercials for gasoline that are not evern trying to sell their product.

Bob Hearns's picture
Bob Hearns 9 years 17 weeks ago

Other than possibly Alberta, there is huge opposition to building pipelines to ship oil in Canada. Kend is not in touch with what is happening in Canada. We've been blocking the building of a pipeline to the Pacific and now we are blocking the building of a pipeline to the East. We want the tarsands shut down as they are our biggest polluter and contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, too many Americans still don't get it that the XL pipeline is for shipping oil to Texas to be sold to foreign interests, not Americans.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 17 weeks ago

Chuck, anytime time you inject 50 million a day to a country with 35 million people it is huge. There is 100,000 Americans living in Alberta alone so this isn't just Canadians who are going to who are going to benifit. You have to understand that the keystone oil is just going to replace oil brought to the gulf from Nigeria and Venusaula in ships. Any logical person can see a pipeline is much safer then a ship in the Gulf or a train. I am not sure where or how gas prices will go up that makes no sense. What environmental damage are you talking about, I don't know of any here. All land here is 100% reclaimed.

I don't know the answers to the rest.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 17 weeks ago

Bob as you know there is very little opposition. The reason they are blocking it is they are shaking down the oil companies. As soon as they get paid there will be no problem. Of course we have to do our due diligence to make sure it is going to be built safely. Let me guess BC?

Bob Hearns's picture
Bob Hearns 9 years 17 weeks ago

Kend , really, get informed. Stop spewing nonsense. Energy East, as it is called, is facing mounting opposition. As far as the West goes, the pipeline construction companies have packed up and left. You may think it's all about money, the First Nations don't. It's about stopping the wanton destruction of the environment.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 17 weeks ago

Bob what part of the great white north are you from.

PFNELKAK 9 years 17 weeks ago

Isn't Nebraska still voting no on xl? Probably price not met yet.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 17 weeks ago

Kend ~ If BIG oil had a reputation for being the slightest bit responsible for their actions your financial arguments might make some sense. However, since the huge recent disaster in the Gulf, and BP's refusal to be responsible--perhaps inability to be responsible--people are starting to get pissed off and take notice. Not only does the mega giant, BP, get away with killing it's own workers through negligence, they permanently pollute an entire ecosphere and ruin the livelihoods on every sea based business on one of our nations most beautiful and productive coastlines; as well as, deprive every consumer from enjoying the bounties and beauty produced and provided by those areas.

BP walks away from any responsibility for the catastrophic damages they caused through blatant negligence with a mere $42 Billion fine. Then, we learn this fine is tax deductible and the victims of the crime get hit with paying 80% of that bill on top of all the other damage done to them. Do you think we're pissed off, yet. Duh!!

Quote Jim Hightower:For example, oil giant BP certainly wreaked havoc with its careless oil rig explosion in 2010, killing 11 workers, deeply contaminating the Gulf of Mexico, and devastating the livelihoods of millions of people along the Gulf coast. So, BP was socked with a punishing payout topping $42 billion. But – shhhh – 80 percent of that is eligible for a tax deduction, a little fact that was effectively covered up by the bosses and politicians.

So you say this pipeline that transports oil sands to the gulf is safe because it's in a pipe. These pipes burst all the time you know. Just how do you plan on transporting this sludge to other countries across the already polluted gulf? In a balloon? By carrier pigeon? Up your ass? Who's gonna clean up the mess when the pipe inevitably bursts? The Royal Canadian Mounted Police? The Tooth Fairy? YOU! Wise up Pal, we're not that stupid; and, we've had just about enough of your dirty, filthy product. We know the truth now. That was the price BP ultimately paid was making one thing perfectly clear to everyone: WE ARE THE ONES WHO ARE LIABLE; and, guess what? WE DON'T BUY IT ANYMORE. Thank you!


RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 17 weeks ago

Yeah, one could look at the current situation in the Ukraine, and make a educated guess that the natural gas industry is influencing US foreign policy. Government policy is dictated by the agenda set by the wealth interest of each respective country - there are exception to this rule.

Follow the money stupid to bastardize a phrase by Slick Willy Clinton.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 17 weeks ago

The most recent poll I saw three months ago, indicated the percentage of Americans who favor the Kochstone pipeline was at 57%. That's because the Oil Barons have their Teapublicans calling it a job creation bill and of course the media is paid to pass this bald-faced lie along to gullible citizens. The truth is only 500 to 1400 temporary construction jobs would be created. Climate change facts would drop that figure of 57% down to single digits overnight if we had a responsible media.... that is. The Teapublicans have a lot of gaul to call opponents of the pipeline, "job creation obstructionists," seeing how they have spent the last seven years blocking all real job creation efforts by the Democratic Party.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 17 weeks ago

Calling environmentalists or for that matter any citizen that disagrees with the greed of the Economic Royalists, "extremists," is a word the truly extreme right wing Teabaggers, public employees like Tom Reed for example, have used to descibe their moderate democratic opponents in campaign mailings. So apparently this is a another example of upside down world both here and in Canada. The Fascists best defense is always staying on offense.

Len Ferns 9 years 17 weeks ago

In Canada, there is some difference between Mineral Rights and Oil and Gas Rights.
That may explain some oddities in the above comments, but suffice it to say, Oil and Gas rights belong primarily to each of the provinces, and only a small percentage to the federal government. This has been the subject of a long and tedious war between Alberta and much of the rest of Canada. Our current Prime Minister is from Alberta and his family ties involve oil and gas.

Some Canadians support the tar-sands...some don't...But the freedom to say you don't support the tar sands appears to be under attack. Canada is definitely going against the global grain that is trying to move away from fossil fuels.
Climate change critics applaud that, and environmentalists are globally embarrased by it.

As far as Royalties are concerned, the benefits do not appear to be distributed equally throughout the country and they are generally not social benefits, but more like tax breaks to those least likely to actually need them.

This argument can also become a very left-right argument.
As far as royalties are concerned, Norway would appear to manage it's oil resources far better than Alberta...ie (genuine public programs, that would appear to be socialist to Albertans).
I write Albertans (not Canadians), because this argument is always about Norway's management of the resource versus Alberta's management of the resource. This is a long and painfull (east-west) fight in Canada, but it seems to go un-noticed that Alberta is a province and Norway is a country...something Albertans should reconcile with. For historic reasons, Alberta still appears to really detest sharing their oil wealth with the rest of the country - like Canada is a foreign land of quasi-socialist lay-abouts. Alberta has some old wounds that were probably not well dealt with, but one can't help but see Canada's current Prime Minister as a bit of an Albertan seeking revenge. (and perhaps a free-market white-knight with an evangelical twist???)

I am being a bit unfair here, but you might say this attitude clash in Canada is something like the percieved divide in American thinking between the old stereotypical Texas and the old stereotypical Vermont.

These are Interesting Times in Canada...curse and all!

marriott79's picture
marriott79 9 years 17 weeks ago

Please ignore Kend. He's most likely working on behalf of the oil companies and does not speak for Canadians. Most of us don't want these pipelines running through our provinces or your states any more than you do.

Thom is correct in his assesment of the situation, and the citizens of Canada receive no benefit or royalties whatsoever from the tarsands, unless you happen to work for an energy company in Alberta. Even the cost of gas here is outrageously high when compared to other oil-producing nations.

If you take the time to read the comments from the public on websites like the CBC news, you'll see that people are extremely unhappy with the current government and their so-called economic policies. We're also sick of this man going around the world denying climate change and saying he's speaking on behalf of Canadians, when in fact most Canadians are concerned about climate change.

From the CBC news website:


"A new Environics poll suggests a majority of Canadians worry about climate change and how it will affect their children and grandchildren.

The survey of 2,020 people revealed 50 per cent of respondents are "extremely" or "definitely" concerned about a changing climate, and 78 per cent of those fear the kind of legacy it will leave for future generations.

Among the findings, the poll suggests the percentage of Canadians who believe in the scientific fact of climate change continues to edge up — to 63 per cent in 2014 compared to 60 per cent last year. One in 10 remain skeptical about the science."

Unfortunately, the party next in line is the Liberals. Despite the name, they are not "liberal" in the American sense, but rather neo-liberal or corporatist. With endless scandals, broken promises, and backroom deals, they've practically run British Columbia into the ground. That said, I'd take Justin Trudeau (son of Pierre Trudeau) any day over Harper. Unfortunately, the NDP are terrible at messaging, and it will be decades before the Green Party has any serious clout.

Until the average citizen expects better from their government (the J-curve I believe it's called), Canada will continue to struggle under misguided economic policies centered around devaluing our currency and selling off our raw natural resources for pennies on the dollar (not to mention clubbing baby seals over the head for their skins), rather than investing in high technology and green energy.

marriott79's picture
marriott79 9 years 17 weeks ago

Len Ferns makes a good point about the East/West rivalry in Canada. The western-most provinces have traditionally had little representation in Ottawa.

The tables finally turned, at least for Albertans, when the Conservatives took office. It's understandable that Albertans are going to enjoy the attention and prosperity heaped upon them by Harper and his policies. But make no mistake -- Harper respresents the tarsands, not the West.

If Alberta is Canada's answer to Texas, then British Columbia would be California. BC doesn't have tarsands. It's a diverse land of mountains, deserts, rainforest, and ocean beaches. This means that most people -- even the pro-corporate provincial government -- are concerned about the environment to some extent. This makes them more of a thorn in Harper's side than anything. He would like nothing more than to run pipelines from the tarsands to the West coast, as they can't get our oil off to China fast enough.

There are several pipelines being proposed in Canada right now, and they're being met with just as much opposition as the Keystone XL is in the United States -- much of that opposition is coming from British Columbians and First Nations groups (aka Native Indian Bands).

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 9 years 17 weeks ago

It sounds like the "W" Adm. against the anti-invade-Iraq people who came around to as many little candlelight gatherings they could find, to harass those of us who didn't want a 2nd war in 2002. We were families, some with tiny babies, holding candles... and here came these thugs in top-of-the-line cars hurling bottles and threats/slurs/nasty language at us when all we were doing was singing patriotic songs and praying for Peace.

Some of those very same cars and voices harassed our neighborhood fund gatherings when we were campaigning for Obama... and they did that in broad daylight with ittle Brownies and Girl Scouts present. No class; no respect.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 17 weeks ago

The point is, we gotta leave oil and that tar sands stuff in the ground . Obama said he would make his decision according to the impact on climate change.

It is already known how many degrees the burning of that oil sands stuff will raise the temperature of the planet if it's consumed. Doesn't matter where they ship it to get burned.

Not like were gonna slide it past Mother Nature and get away with it without consequence somehow.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 17 weeks ago

I might prefer Venezuelan oil to Canadian. Since Chavez they equitably distribute the profits from their oil.

Kend has a lot personally invested in the tar sands oil operation. He has told us so on this blog and and asked us to speak in support of his investment.

He's alright, he's just on a lot of bullshit. Once you know that about him you can get along with him okay.

marriott79's picture
marriott79 9 years 17 weeks ago

Yes, they're very much like the Bush administration. In fact George W. Bush was quite unhappy with our previous administration because the Liberals refused to send troops into Iraq. However, when the Conservatives took power, Harper and Bush got along very well -- both being conservative oil men and both being hawkish on military issues. In fact, Harper joked that he was George Bush's "Mini-Me," in reference to the Austin Powers movies. This also marked the first time Canada saw US-style election shenanigans, like the robocall/poll location scandal and new voter ID requirements (despite no historical evidence of voter fraud or any past contraversy in Canadian elections).

That's not to say Harper's win wasn't legitimate, it was, but he didn't get the majority of the vote. It was a combination of low voter turn-out coupled with public outrage over the scandals of the previous administration and a three-party system, which split the vote, that enabled Harper to take office.

Our next election is in November. It will be interesting to see if Canadians have had enough. Judging by what I'm reading online, I'd say there's a good chance the Liberals will get in. But the damage done by the current administration will have long-lasting, and in some cases permanent, damage to our environment, economy, and standing in the world.

Martina M. Rippon's picture
Martina M. Rippon 9 years 17 weeks ago

Thom, I don't know the right way to get this topic into your queue (I'm new to your site) but really need to discuss Scott Walker and the Koch brothers. Your program yesterday (second hour) was right on the mark..by the way, Scott's trademark is his Harley-Davidson (made in Wisconsin, of course). Our resistance to his rule lives on in the Solidarity Sing Along; we've done well over 1000 consecutive weekday manifestations of our disregard for his and his legislators' shenanigans. We do this by singing at the top of our lungs in the center of the capitol building, the rotunda, for one hour (12 noon to 1 p.m.) songs of labor, civil rights, and specially crafted humorous songs about the Emperor Scott. Drives 'em nuts. How do we get this (Wisconsin's stand-up, fight-back) started as a topic? Because I cannot grope my way through your complicated site--I just signed up for podcasts last week--could someone please email me some guidance on this?

Martina Rippon


RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 9 years 17 weeks ago

. . . and it was the Democrat Party of the early 1940s that forced FDR to replace Henry Wallace with Harry Truman in the 1944 election, a product of the privately financed political machine that ran the Democrat Party in those days. A monumental act that replaced perhaps the smartest man that had ever served in Washington with a political hack changing the future history of this country, but not for the better ! Wallace had strong support to run for the top office in 1948 under an independent label but hit the same wall that independent office seekers have always encountered in this dominant two-party system !

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 17 weeks ago

martina -- Since Thom thinks Emperor Scott is going to be the repug choice for prez, I would think he would love to hear from you daily.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 16 weeks ago

KIPOPP RE #30 of Feb 10, 2015 -- Where do the blogs go when they roll off the first page? It used to be the would go on to the next page. The second page now has archives without blog messages.

kippopp -- One thing we both strongly agree on is that number on the debt clock has no meaning. I have some comments on your last blog on the feb 10 topic. Let me know if your want them.

Quote kipopp:

wood and axe handles = microeconomics.

monetary policy = macroeconomics.

Yes, MMTers are all about aggregate demand. As I mentioned before there are plenty of non-monetarily sovereign entities (i.e., State and Local Gov'ts) that need our tax dollars because their finances are similar to personal finances. We still were not completely off of the gold standard in the 30's (FDR began the process) and 60's so the laws requiring we borrow dollars (debt) to offset the difference between revenue and spending (deficit) were still relevant. Those laws became obsolete when Nixin took us completely off the gold standard.

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