Category Archives: BASH

MayDay 2011: Stephen Harper and the ‘F’ Word (repost)

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I came across this post reminding us about the 14 rules of Fascism.

Here they are again, with Stephen Harper’s record as a reminder of how in the case of Canada, the rules of fascism actually do apply:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Stephen Harper usually starts his day campaigning in the bastion of Canadian nationalism, Tim Horton’s.  On many occasions, he’s been seen behind the counter serving coffee, but the real agenda should be obvious:  leverage institutions that inspire nationalist sentiments and you’ll curry the voting favour of the voting public.

The Harper Conservatives also embrace sports – especially hockey – because they appeal to all classes, but most importantly those people that will only think of themselves and their pocketbooks.

Finally, the half-billion spent on TV ads and other media over the last 5 years have leveraged all of the components of a nationalist campaign.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Stephen Harper’s record on human rights has been shameful.  The ultimate responsibility for the most arrests in a single location at a single time were made during the G20 summit, an event organized to propel the image of Stephen Harper on the world stage but to also ‘test’ methodology related to cracking down against peaceful demonstrations in Canada or other G20 nations.

Stephen Harper is also in the process of converting Canada from a secure state to a security state.  Undisclosed billions will be spent on building prisons that we don’t need and planes that won’t be delivered for years.

To this day, people are still being held against there will and without having had fair trial.  Omar Khadr and other Canadians who have been ‘left behind’ by the Harper regime beg all Canadians to vote sensibly in the upcoming election so that they may one day enjoy their freedom again.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Stephen Harper constantly repeats that our democratic right to a new government – even if it’s a coalition or minority of several non-Conservative parties – is evil and gives the sense that it should be outlawed in Canada.

Stephen Harper ‘threatens’ Canadians with the prospect of socialists or liberals running amok with taxpayer dollars, when the record shows that it’s quite the opposite:  Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have created the second largest Canadian deficit in history, after the Mulroney government of the 1980s.  The Liberals under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin actually generated a surplus.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative government will be spending more on military in Canada than any government in the history of Canada.

The Harper government has committed to at least $50 billion per year on military spending over the next decade, although we’re seeing with the F-35 plane order that there are no upper limits on this amount.

That’s a lot of schools, hospitals and digital infrastructure that we as Canadians should be building for the next generation.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Is the Harper regime sexist?  Women play a role in cabinet and with members in the Harper government, but they’ve also become scape-goats with a number of scandals that have materialized over the last 5 years.  Of course, the number of scandals are so plentiful now that there actually is a balance between male and female with the Harper regime.

However, a Harper majority will quickly reveal the truth of this statement.  Abortion will be criminalized, the long gun registry will be scrapped and same-sex marriages will be eliminated.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

This video is telling evidence that Stephen Harper is manipulating the media in Canada by not allowing reporters in scene to ask questions, but it also reveals that the Harper regime is leveraging the services of Canada’s police force – the RCMP – to Harper’s absurd and paranoid policies.

The Harper regime has also spent nearly half a billion dollars of Canadian taxpayer dollars on a small handful of media companies, all of which are known Harper and Conservative supporters.  By buying out Canada’s media, they have shown maximum contempt for all Canadians because it’s unlikely that we’ll have an honest debate about Canada in the near future.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

This is an image we got from another site recently (apologies, but I can’t recall the source):

be afraid

Of course, the Harper message is continuous with fear as the central message:

  • Fear ‘economic instability’
  • Fear the socialists
  • Fear the separatists
  • Fear the Russians
  • Fear ‘you people’
  • Fear for all those that oppose me

The truth is that we should be afraid:  afraid for the future of Canada and the world if we elect a Stephen Harper majority.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

The Harper Conservatives are driven by religion.  All of their messages are thinly veiled promises to keep women at home, elevate the dominance of men and to drive a wedge between those who deserve freedom from oppression and those that want to take it away.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

The Harper regime will erode tax revenue from corporations to a pittance by the end of 2015.  As they do this, they continue to spend out of control.  This is an intentional plan of all conservatives:  spend like mad, get your wrists slapped by the corporate-controlled IMF and World Bank for having too much debt, and then cut and privatize public services so that the world’s corporations can come in and control our lives.

No Canadian wants tax cuts for corporations except for those few that own the large corporations.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

To understand what life under the thumb of a Harper majority, just look to Toronto’s office of the mayor or Wisconsin, where union rights are being smothered under the message of ‘waste’ and ‘largesse’.

While I’m not a union member or passionate advocate, what will be lost is the right to demonstrate, assemble and protest the right to organize labour for those that need these rights.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

One need not look further than the larcenous ‘accusations’ that Michael Ignatieff is an ‘elite’ and ‘intellectual’ that knows nothing of the Canadian experience.  Add some xenophobia to the mix (‘Ignatieff has been away from Canada for too long’) and the picture is complete.

Under a Harper majority, arts funding will be eliminated or directed to those institutions that generate propaganda as opposed to art.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Stephen Harper is obsessed with crime and punishment.  In fact, so much so that he basically eliminated Statistic Canada’s crime reporting division and replaced it with a third-party privately held source.

Make no mistake:  Conservatives see crime as a business opportunity, not social policy.  Picture the cretin in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and you’ll get a sense of what the future holds for first-time offenders or those who commit misdemeanors.

There are billions on the table and they want it all.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Even though Stephen Harper ran on the platform of accountability and open government in the last election, he lied, didn’t he?

Since being elected in 2008, he has made more patronage appointments to the Senate, political and public institutions and other government organizations than any Canadian government has in the past.

The well has been poisoned folks even if we get smart and evict the Harper regime.  It will be decades before Canada’s public service can function without partisan politics ripping it apart.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Stephen Harper ran on a platform of fixed election dates in 2006, created this law once elected as minority leader and then broke his own law in 2008 when the opportunity suited him best.

Of course, he blames this election on Party Funding, but it was he who insisted on an election and not the opposition.

As a reminder, Stephen Harper blamed Party Funding on the 2006 election, but it was again he who lead a coalition of separatists and socialists to bring about the downfall of Paul Martin.

Summary

Is Canada’s government (now known as the Harper Government) a fascist regime?  Time will tell.

Canada:  our future relies on all of us to vote responsibly on May 2.  Please don’t vote Conservative and please don’t be fooled by the lies so that we all don’t find out the hard way.

MayDay 2011: Alternatives for Conservatives (repost)

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For most of us, there should be no doubt that the Conservative Party of Canada is broken and represents everything that’s wrong in the world:

  • Poor fiscal management
  • Broken promises
  • Corruption and contempt for Parliament
  • Ignoring your beliefs and value system

Take heart if you’re a small-c conservative and you’re looking for someone that’s not a crook or someone that’s willing to spin any lie just to grab your vote!  There are many alternatives out there.

Seriously.  Here are just a few:

The Green Party (Site)

I fully admit that this (and all summaries below) is a very superficial summary, but the Green Party represents some of the following basic principles:

  • Let the market do what the market does best
  • No deficit
  • Lower taxes on personal income
  • Proportional representation
  • Taxes on waste

In essence, they feel to me like a libertarian party, but with a shade of green.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

Don’t believe the mainstream media: the Green Party of Canada is not a ‘lefty’ party ‘full of hippies’.  The Canadian Greens put the market in front of most of their policies and most of their platform has a vibe of ‘white collar’ politics.  While they’re very popular with young voters, most seniors tend to vote Green because they want to stay ‘mainstream’ while also staying faithful to small-c conservative values.

Libertarian Party (Site)

The Libertarians are strong believers that the government should not be in our lives in any way, shape or form.  The less government, the better.

The resulting promise of less government is lower taxes, reduced waste and less frustration for those who simply want to get on with their lives.

If you’re not familiar with the Libertarians, a very famous one is Ron Paul in the US.  Ron Paul is a Republican from Texas, but doesn’t believe in the largesse of government that has been brought about by all parties, including those of a conservative bent.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

Libertarians attract those that have had enough with promises, regardless of how much (or little) they will cost.

To see if you’re a Libertarian, try their Canadian quiz.  You may be surprised just how closely you’re aligned with their beliefs!

Canadian Action Party (Site)

One of the central planks of the Canadian Action Party is their demand that we get rid of the Bank of Canada.

While most of their other policies rank towards the left of the spectrum, this one puts them squarely in the middle of Libertarian territory, as Ron Paul has been an advocate of abolition of the Federal Reserve and deficit financing for many years.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

To be honest, I’m not so sure there’s a good answer to this question, but if there’s not a Libertarian or Green candidate in your riding, these may prove to be a good alternative.

Another reason why you would consider them: like the old Reform folks, they’re very supportive of an Elected Senate. Unlike the NDP – which would do away with the Senate altogether – the Canadian Action Party would fill the gap left when the Reform Party was vapourized in 2003.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada (Site)

I’ll go on record and remind everyone that I’m not a fan of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), but I am a fan of democracy and it’s certainly their right to be out there soliciting votes.

The CHP is the only party to my knowledge that asserts its religious affiliation (Judeo-Christian) in the general public and is a viable option for all of those people that have been supporting the Conservative Party of Canada but who have yet to see progress made on issues like abortion, same-sex marriages and so on.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

If you used to be an Alliance member or simply want to see more overt religion in the policy-making that happens in this country, this is the party for you.

Since the ‘Unite the Right’ campaign washed all of these stronger theological discussions under the table, you’ve been struggling to find a voice with mainstream parties and you’re more than happy to support those that ACTUALLY reflect your value systems and who don’t pretend to reflect them just to grab a vote.

Pirate Party of Canada (Site)

The Pirate Party of Canada got its start when our government began to crack down on people that were using file-sharing and copyrighted materials for personal use.

They reflect the popular Pirate Party in Europe that actually won a number of seats in

There aren’t many candidates in this election, but the party is growing and we expect them to add candidates as the campaign progresses towards May 2.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

While the PPC may be seen as a single-issue party, they have a Libertarian bent that’s very refreshing, particularly if you’re young and you believe in openness, transparency and the elimination of copyright regulations that favour big companies and cost consumers billions each year.

Progressive Canadian Party (once the Progressive Conservatives) (Site)

The Progressive Canadian Party (PCP) is what remains from the aftermath of the Unite the Right campaign in 2003 that saw Stephen Harper consolidate and take control of the following parties:

  • Conservatives
  • Reform Party of Canada
  • Alliance Party

Or … CRAP as an acronym.  Sorry … my anti-Conservative bias is showing 🙂

Why would a conservative vote for them?

Any ‘Red Tory’ would be proud to vote for the Progressive Canadian Party, as they continue to reflect the softer side that the Conservatives lost when Stephen Harper took the reins of the CPC.

Most of the memes related to ‘family’ and religion are absent from the guiding principles of the party.  Instead they focus on unique concepts like sustainability, ‘100 mile diets’, education, health care with some injection of private business and so on.

United Party of Canada (Site)

The United Party of Canada (UPC) is another recent response to the last election where dark-blue Conservatives ran rough over basic principles related to balance, equity and fairness.

Most of their policies reflect this response, including the following directions:

Why would a conservative vote for them?

The party is described as being centrist and would appeal to those ‘Red Tories’ that don’t have a Progressive Canadian candidate running in their riding.

Western Block Party (Site)

The Western Block Party offers those west of Ontario to consolidate their vote and influence into something more tangible, much like the Bloc Quebecois has in the past with Quebec.

The greatest challenge with the WBP is that the founder was the lawyer that represented Ernst Zundel, famous Holocaust denier.  Unfortunately, this taints the party somewhat, but if they are able to focus on the primacy of the West, they’ll be able to attract votes from Albertans, Manitobans, BCers and those from Saskatchewan.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

Despite the potential to be seen as a separatist or racist party, conservatives in the West that feel ‘left out’ by their party (including the Conservative Party of Canada) and who don’t believe that Quebec should be pulling all of the strings when it comes to politics will find a home here.

Online Party of Canada (Site)

While the Online Party of Canada is relatively new, there’s a possibility that they may gain momentum – even in this election – because of some of their unique policy platform ideas.

Why would a conservative vote for them?

Even though they’re a relatively ‘fresh’ party, they have potential to attract a lot of conservatives that want Canada to advance as a republic as opposed to a commonwealth country.

CONCLUSION

If you’re a small-c conservative, don’t feel overwhelmed, ignored or lost when it comes to going to the polls on May 2.

THERE ARE OPTIONS and it’s up to you to exercise your right to vote those options.

Of course, if I’ve missed any alternatives, please post them in comments below.

MayDay 2011: Anything But Conservative (ABC) Resources (repost)

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Hey Folks,

I’m going on record saying that I’m going to vote for ABC: Anything But Conservative.

I will not split votes. I will not vote for the person that I might honestly want to see in Parliament.

I will vote for the person that will most likely defeat a Conservative.

I know … massive failure on the democratic front.

However, I will sleep better knowing that ABC will be running Canada after the May election.

Please try to consider the same.

I know a lot of you out there are passionate about the party you support (be it Liberal, NDP or Green or other), but if you’ve got a strong candidate in any riding that might struggle against apathy, backlash, partisan politics or absenteeism, please please please put that aside and vote for the person who will most likely defeat a Conservative.

You can still support the party that you love by making donations of your money, your time or even space on your blog, but when it comes to the election, we NEED this to be a grand slam.  Stephen Harper has made history by leading the most corrupt government in this country’s existence.  For that, we need to make Stephen Harper history.

AND if you’re a Conservative (although it’s highly unlikely that a Conservative will be reading this blog), please ask yourself these questions (or circulate these questions to your Conservative friends):

  • If someone is stealing from me, should I vote for them?
  • If someone lied to me, should I vote for them?
  • If the party leader doesn’t take ownership of the problems in his cabinet, can I trust him?
  • If corruption is more important than democratic rights, why should I support you?
  • If elimination of basic Canadian rights occur on my candidate’s watch, will I be next?
  • If corporate welfare is more important than support for my parents or my family, should I vote for you?
  • If you’ve created the largest Canadian deficit in our country’s history, how do I know you’ll be good managers in the future?
  • If you are unable to manage the country effectively – example: untendered contracts that are costing me billions – how can you be trusted with other similar decisions?

If you’re not sure who to vote for, here are some resources that might help:

Updated Polls:

http://cdnelectionwatch.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html

CBC Voting Results (2008 and 2006 with candidate profiles

Pundits’ Guide:  http://www.punditsguide.ca/

Open Parliament:  http://openparliament.ca/

Poll Report:  http://www.pollingreport.ca/

Riding by Riding:  http://www.ridingbyriding.ca/

Election Prediction:  http://www.electionprediction.org/

Anything But Conservative:

http://catch22campaign.ca/

Harpernomics: http://harpernomics.ca/

Vote For Climate:  http://www.voteforclimate.ca/en/

Anyone But Harper Widget: http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/anyone-but-harper

Facebook Anything But Conservative:  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=26006053677

Vote Swapping Links (generally, I don’t see this as a solution, but I’ll leave that to your discretion):

Vote Pair:  http://www.votepair.ca/

Facebook Anti-Harper Vote Swap: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=86282125130

Facebook Vote Smart:  http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=26198689106

General Non-Partisan Resources

Fair Vote Canada: http://www.fairvote.ca/

Lead Now:  http://www.leadnow.ca/

MPs who changed their loyalties:  http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/lists/CrossedTheFloor.aspx?Language=E&Menu=HOC-Politic&Section=03d93c58-f843-49b3-9653-84275c23f3fb

NOTE: I will repost this blog on various occasions through the election with updated resources.  Please post links and suggestions below to ensure that the list is as complete and comprehensive as possible.

MayDay 2011: The Conservative Coalition (repost)

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Stephen Harper has dropped the word ‘coalition’ of late, possibly because he and his handlers have decided to focus on backpeddling following scathing reviews from Canada’s Auditor General insinuating that they broke the law with spending for the G8/G20 summit.

However, Canadians shouldn’t let him drop the word ‘coalition’ because he lives and breathes by it.

His power depends on a coalition.

At the outset of the campaign, Stephen Harper had us believe that the word ‘coalition’ – especially when the opposition is concerned – may as well be the spawn of the Devil or something … gasp … worse:  a Canada without him at the helm.

Of course, this is OK because every time Stephen Harper speaks about the evils of coalitions, he is painting himself into a corner and he won’t be able to get himself out … or blame a low-level staffer for his mistakes.

This is because he represents and leads one of Canada’s most successful coalitions:  the CRAP coalition.

I know this term is used as a derogatory remark about the existing Conservative party and platform, but let’s take a brief look at the history of what is now the Conservative Party of Canada:

  • Progressive Conservatives dominate the scene from Confederation to the end of the Mulroney years
  • Albertans get all snippy about how we Canadians treat ‘their’ oil and form the Reform Party of Canada, a thinly veiled gang of libertarians, Gordon Gecko fanatics and Ayn Rand junkies
  • Other conservative folks decide that there isn’t enough religion in the halls of Canadian government and form the Alliance Party, a thinly-veiled ‘whites only’ group
  • These three parties split the small-c conservative vote and keep the Liberals in power from 1993 (the year Kim Campbell was defeated) to 2006, when Stephen Harper used a coalition to defeat Paul Martin
  • The tables are turned in 2003:  Stephen Harper eventually crams all three parties into one box, forms a coalition of conservative and right-leaning parties and declares that ‘progressive’ isn’t fashionable anymore
  • Voila:  The Conservative Party of Canada is born!

As you can see, ‘coalition’ is the life-blood of the Conservative Party of Canada, but a more important word might be ‘suppression‘.

It’s inevitable that folks from all walks of life – be they Libertarians, Pro-Life, religious fanatics, anti-gay, anti-feminist – will be busting to have a voice in a room where they cannot speak or have an opinion, lest they fragment the voting public that puts Stephen Harper in power.

They’ll also get more and more irritated as ‘socialists’ like Jack Layton get a seat at Stephen Harper’s table while they’re left out in the cold because Jack (and/or Ignatieff) represent Stephen Harper’s SECOND ongoing coalition:  the vacillating support from either the Liberals, NDP or even the Bloc that keeps this very sick patient alive and provides new blood when the Conservative minority is about to go into cardiac arrest because of its own largesse.

I pity the people who are in these and other groups that want to be heard, but who will never be listened to as long as the Conservative Party of Canada has Stephen Harper at the helm swearing that ‘coalitions’ in Canada are an unacceptable form of government.

The real truth to the situation is that a coalition of progressives and centre/left would represent more than 2 out of 3 votes in Canada.  This would push Stephen Harper and his corrupt crew into oblivion.

Today, the left and centre parties will not talk of a coalition, but can we at least try to convince them to create a plan to push the Conservative Party of Canada out of power and avoid damaging their own prospects in the process?

Is that too much to ask?  Maybe Jack Layton and Elizabeth May can take the lead on this since Michael Ignatieff has ruled it out?

MayDay 2011: Tar Sands, Energy & Oil Subsidies

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Canada wastes several billion PER YEAR subsidizing the creation, expansion and mechanization of the Tar Sands in Alberta, all so that we can export billions more in Dirty Oil to the United States.

It’s a failed strategy when it comes to energy development, storage and transfer in this country.

It must change.

Any government other than a Stephen Harper Government (TM) would eliminate these subsidies.

I’m not alone with this opinion on this industry.  The New York Times Editorial ran a post on how Americans need to say “No” to the Tar Sands.  The original text of this article is pasted below.

So far, only the Green Party and the NDP have come out swinging against the Tar Sands, while the Liberals show luke-warm support for change in this area.

The dreaded ‘Carbon Tax’ policy announcement will never be made before May 2 by anyone, with the exception of Stephen Harper, who will bitch endlessly about how the Liberals and the NDP will bring about a tax on oil in the future if you vote for them.

While Stephen Harper continues with his platform of FEAR FOR CANADA, we need to elect a government that will put an end to the shame that Canadians feel when it comes to this outdated mode of energy production.

Later this year, the State Department will decide whether to approve construction of a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast called Keystone XL. The underground 36-inch pipeline, built by TransCanada, would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to Texas refineries and begin operating in 2013. The department should say no.

State is involved because the pipeline would cross an international boundary. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton first said she was “inclined” to support it, but has lately sounded more neutral. An environmental assessment carried out by her department last year was sharply criticized by the Environmental Protection Agency for understating the project’s many risks. The department has since undertaken another environmental review that will soon be released for public comment. It needs to be thorough and impartial.

Advocates of the Keystone XL, which include the Canadian government, the oil industry and its allies in Congress, argue that a steady supply of oil from a friendly neighbor is the answer to rising oil prices and turmoil in the Middle East. But the Energy Department says the pipeline would have a minimal effect on prices, and there is already sufficient pipeline capacity to double United States imports from Canada.

The environmental risks, for both countries, are enormous. The first step in the process is to strip-mine huge chunks of Alberta’s boreal forest. The oil, a tar-like substance called bitumen, is then extracted with steam or hot water, which in turn is produced by burning natural gas. The E.P.A. estimates that the greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil — even without counting the destruction of forests that sequester carbon — are 82 percent greater than those produced by conventional crude oil.

The project poses a major threat to water supplies on both sides of the border. Turning two tons of tar sand into a barrel of oil requires four times as much water as producing a barrel of conventional oil. Operations in Alberta have already created 65 square miles of toxic holding ponds, which kill migrating birds and pollute downstream watersheds, a serious matter for native communities.

In the United States, the biggest potential problem is pipeline leaks. The Keystone XL would carry bitumen — which is more corrosive than crude oil — thinned with other petroleum condensates and then pumped at high pressure and at a temperature of more than 150 degrees through the pipeline.

Last July, an older bitumen pipeline in Michigan spilled 800,000 gallons of the stuff into the Kalamazoo River. A new TransCanada pipeline that began carrying diluted bitumen last year has already had nine spills.

The Keystone XL would cut diagonally across Montana and the Nebraska Sand Hills — a delicate region of porous, sandy soils — to northern Kansas before heading south to the Gulf. It would also cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir of enormous importance for agriculture that also provides drinking water for two million people. A pipeline leaking diluted bitumen into groundwater could have disastrous consequences.

For this reason, Senators Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson of Nebraska have vigorously opposed the planned route of the Keystone XL. Still, political pressure to win swift approval has been building in Congress. Moving ahead would be a huge error. From all of the evidence, Keystone XL is not only environmentally risky, it is unnecessary.