Hollywood star, Leonardo DiCaprio, was in Alberta for a new documentary about the environmental impacts of the oilsands (a.k.a. tar sands). He met with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations who have been protesting against developing the oilsands. DiCaprio is among a host of celebrities speaking out against the oilsands. Others include Desmond Tutu, Neil Young and James Cameron. They join other celebrities who have been vocal opponents of the Keystone pipeline including Mark Ruffalo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kevin Bacon.
Proponents of the oilsands and the pipeline, including the Prime Minister’s office, have dismissed celebrity involvement in Alberta’s oil industry. According to Yahoo Canada News, the Prime Minister’s Office has commented in the past about “the energy-demanding lifestyle often afforded to such celebrities” and Tim Moen, leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, referred to it as celebrity cheap talk demonizing Alberta’s oilsands. Moen told Yahoo Canada News that “The people I take seriously are people who actually create solutions. People that find ways to get cheap clean energy into the hands of people who want it.” Continue reading
While the majority of the blogs from last month pertained to explicit activities of white supremacist groups, this blog addresses a more indirect but no less damaging impact of these organizations. Specifically, I suggest that the links between mainstream conservatives and white supremacy organizations are both insidious and possibly on the rise. This can take shape in several forms including funding, research, and advocacy of themes explicitly linked to core white supremacy doctrines and mobilization. This research is used to frame arguments in major national debates within American politics on issues like immigration, welfare reform, and criminal prosecution. In the sections which follow I provide a few examples of blatant connections between racist organizations and movements to the conservative mainstream of American politics. Continue reading
Political sociologists and social movement scholars have often commented on the overly broad definition of “political opportunities.” Many have called for specifying the nature of political opportunities especially so as to better operationalize and link political opportunities to policy outcomes and social movement mobilization. Indeed, political opportunity structure has referred to the more static nature of a country’s institutional arrangements (for instance, type of political system, electoral representation, etc.), to the more dynamic kind focusing on the presence of sympathetic party elites, party control of government and agenda setting. Continue reading
A year ago, I wrote a couple of posts about the growing tensions between environmental activists and the Conservative government in Canada, particularly with regards to the Gateway and Keystone oil pipelines. The Conservative government portrayed environmental activists and organizations as radical and in many ways, depicted campaigns against the pipeline as coming from outside of Canada backed by foreign interests. But over the course of 2012, environmental issues became less salient with the public and garnered less attention from the media. Then, in a November 2012 Globe and Mail article, it was suggested that a recent Natural Resources Canada study finding that the chemical in the oil sands is not more corrosive than other oil, is a “major strike against a key argument made by opponents of pipelines.” With a lack of interest, apparently damning evidence against environmental activists, and determination on the part of the government to continue resource development (including the oil sands project), things were not looking good for environmental activists. The Conservative government has continued to champion the pipeline and has called for more proposals for future natural resource development.
At the end of 2011, it seemed like social issues were making their way back onto the Canadian public agenda (“Has the abortion issue been reopened in Canada and what does this mean for social movements?”).” The beginning of the year saw what Lawrence Martin (Dec 27th Globe and Mail) called a “A banner year for the new conservative agenda.” This lead me in my Jan. 10th post (“The new conservative political opportunity in Canada and the Office of Religious Freedom“) to think about a new conservative political opportunity in Canada. We have seen key issues surface: the pipeline, abortion, gay marriage rights, and more recently, small government. But this new conservative public agenda has not gone without backlash . Indeed, the conservative political opportunity has also become an opportunity for a variety of activist mobilization: from environmentalists to more recently, senior citizens.
Recently, the Conservative Harper government unveiled its new budget which among other things, saw the firing of thousands of civil servants and the increase of the retirement age to 67. One Globe and Mail article (March 29, 2012) refers to “Minding the Gap” and a “generational battle brewing over the budget.” The article goes on to say that “Students are concerned about high tuition costs, and those in their late 20s and 30s worry about an impenetrable housing market and weak job prospects – which they blame, in part, on baby boomers. Seniors and those nearing retirement, on the other hand, were concerned about upcoming reforms to Old Age Security.” Continue reading
In a Dec 27th post (“Has the abortion issue been reopened in Canada and what does this mean for social movements?”), I wrote about a push on the part of some Canadian conservatives to reopen the issue of abortion – an issue that has otherwise lain fairly dormant. I suggested that with a Conservative majority government, a new political opportunity has opened for Conservative issues in Canada. Not surprisingly, Lawrence Martin titled his Dec 27th Globe and Mail article “A banner year for the new conservative agenda” where he writes, “For core conservatives, those of the doctrinaire variety, nothing can compare to the success of the year now passing. In 2011, Canada took its sharpest turn right in its history.” Continue reading