a, Opinion

On Tar Sands exceptionalism and ‘commodity fetishism’

Now that the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has taken on a mandate to lobby the McGill Administration to divest from Tar Sands, many of us seem to agree—at least, on the topic of ‘goopy bitumen’ from Alberta. Ultimately, I still have a few questions about our priorities.

When we McGillians get so exclusively upset about the Tar Sands, I feel like we are exposing ourselves as ‘bubbled off’ from the rest of the Quebec social movements.

I completely agree that the Tar Sands are an inefficient project that I believe will poison the Indigenous peoples, commit genocide on the animal nations, suck the riches from the land straight into a multinational bank accounts, and so on—but how are any of these qualities unique to the Sands?

Why do the Quebec environmental movements organize around Plan Nord? It’s a project to be developed with $80 billion in government subsidies for international conglomerates. We are entering a period of escalation between Indigenous communities and the State—unseen since the Oka crisis. Some Innu communities who wish to defend their lives and land, and refuse to accept any contract with the corporations, have blockades shut down by militarized police in Northern Quebec. Is it because the communities that signed agreements found out that they were tricked—that they are being given a $1.50 a day in exchange for disrespect of the ecosystem?

It is for every reason cited above, and more.

Our problem is global capitalism, which can be fought in our own backyards as well as across borders. Plan Nord and the Enbridge Line Nine pipeline have gone undetected, and instead we rally along lines drawn in Tar Sands. This is ‘commodity fetishism.’ Somehow, the oil-logged grains have taken on full expressive life as the pure representation of exploitative capitalism, rather than another symptom of a system trapped in a loop of self-annihilation.

It is time to connect our movements because all pipelines leak and all markets peak.


One Comment

  1. michaelkourlas

    “…commit genocide on the animal nations…”

    What the hell?

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