Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: Chapter Two: Anointed With Oil

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

According to Paul Krugman in The Conscience of a Liberal, "movement conservatism" began in the 1940's, when a group of Republicans, bitterly opposed to FDR's "New Deal", created what they referred to as "New Conservatism".

These "new conservatives" would join forces with the Neoconservatives, who provided the scholarly backup required for legitimacy, and eventually, on the advice of the man who calls himself the Godfather of Neoconservatism, Irving Kristol, they merged with the Religious Right.

The first bold act for the movement took place in 1964, when a large group of new conservative activists seized control of the Republican National Convention, nominating Barry Goldwater to run for the presidency.

Goldwater, dubbed the "merchant prince", came from a wealthy business-class family, and was thought a good choice, by like-minded souls, to push back against not only the "welfare state", but the Civil Rights Movement and the growing influence of unions.

He was well funded in his bid, by monied Americans, including Texas oil tycoon, H.L. Hunt, a vocal opponent of FDR.

But there was another Goldwater financial backer, who is of interest to Canadians.  His name was Joseph Howard Pew, and he would be responsible for not only creating the tar sands environmental mess, but for bringing Republican style politics to Canada.

Ernest and Howard

On February 13, 1947, Leduc Alberta struck liquid gold and the world took notice, especially the American oilmen.
Since 1947, when Imperial Oil, Ltd.'s Leduc No. 1 gushed from a snow-covered Alberta plain, 45 new oilfields have been spudded in across the province. Portable derricks, lumbering over the land like giant steel giraffes, have drilled more than two new wells a day. More than 300 million U.S. dollars, one of the freest and fastest streams of American private capital ever sluiced into a foreign country, have been invested in Alberta oil. Reserves of 2 billion bbls. are already proved, and experts say that that is only the first tide from a great oily sea buried deep under the province's fields, lakes and mountains. (1)
Time Magazine began referring to Alberta as "Texas North", but with all of that U.S. money, came a unique U.S. culture.
Oil company owners, many of them American themselves, identified strongly with their U.S. cousins, and Alberta was often described as a sort of second-string Texas. The American free-enterprise spirit and the cult of the individual is strongly embodied in the oil-patch culture. (2)
Ernest Manning couldn't be happier.  Before the Leduc gusher, he was scrambling for solutions to the province's economic woes.  He  had inherited the Social Credit Party from William Aberhart, but would have to prove himself capable in his own right, or risk losing his job.

Now he was being courted by some of the biggest names in the American oil industry, including J. Howard Pew.  The two formed a business and personal relationship, beginning in 1949.  Both were fundamentalist Christians who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible.

Their wives also became friends, and for one week every year, the two couples vacationed together at Lake Louise. (3)

A Profitable Friendship

Howard Pew's Sun Oil Company, owed much of its success to two world wars.   They had supplied most of the lubricating oils used by the Allies in WWI and were a leading supplier of aviation fuel in WWII. 

However, with no new war on the horizon, it became necessary to search for profits elsewhere, and where better than Canada, with crude just begging to be tapped into, and with a potential ban on the export of oil from the U.S., (4) the situation became even more critical.

So in 1954, the Pews bought into the Great Canadian Oil Sands consortium, acquiring a 75 percent interest from Abasand Oils. But not everyone was on board with their plans.  According to Alastair Sweeny in his book, Black Bonanza:
The project ran into a major roadblock in November 1960, when the Alberta Oil and Gas Conservation Board rejected the project on technical and economic grounds. As feared, conventional oilmen were mounting a ferocious lobby against bitumen extraction because of a continuing oil glut in Alberta, and they were afraid that prices would drop even further. For a time, the Alberta government stalled all oil sands development for the same reason. To show the depth of rage felt by conventional oil people, Suncor veteran Joe Fitzgerald tells of being accosted in the Petroleum Club in Calgary where an angry and over-refreshed oil executive threatened to have him expelled because he was not a "real oilman". (5)
So Howard Pew went to his old friend Manning and poured on the charm.  Consequently the following headline appeared on April 13, 1964:


In return, Pew began to channel $10,000 a year into Manning's radio program, Back to the Bible Hour. (6)

I believe this is what they refer to as Divine Intervention.

On September 30, 1967,  the Great Canadian Oil Sands at Fort McMurray, now controlled by Pew's Suncor (Sunoco), was officially opened for business, with Manning addressing  the adoring throng of oil soaked  revellers.
"This is a red-letter day," said Ernest Manning, "not only for Canada but for all North America. No other event in Canada's centennial year is more important or significant. It is fitting," he said, taking the goals of the site to the higher plane of the lay preacher that he was, "that we are gathered here today to dedicate this plant not merely to the production of oil but to the continual progress and enrichment of mankind". (5)
I would hardly call the tar sands "the enrichment of mankind", but they certainly did a great deal to enrich Howard Pew.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

According to his bio, Pew (d. 1971) was a philanthropist, guided by his deep Christian faith.  After all, he did finance Billy Graham's crusades, and invested heavily into several Christian magazines.

But there is another side to Pew, that is far more revealing and relative to the political climate in Canada today. 

Throughout his lifetime, he supported many extreme-right organizations, campaigns and publications.

In the 1930's, along with the DuPont family, he backed the American Liberty League, a pro-active group opposing the New Deal.  It was believed that they were simply a front for the Republican National Committee.

In 1946, he help to fund the Foundation for Economic Education , a  “think tank” with  a get-government-off-people’s-backs philosophy. 'By 1950, it was under investigation for illegal lobbying activities. A radio commentator then called it “one of the biggest and best financed, pressure outfits in America.... the fountainhead for half-truths and distortions, designed to deceive the American public” and “a vicious anti-labor propaganda outfit [that] spreads its venom…to crush organized labor.” The CIO News sarcastically said the FEE’s goal was to “convince the average American that the country is going socialist…and that…social security, unemployment compensation, public housing, rent and other price controls are depriving him of his freedom to go hungry and unsheltered.” '(7)

Christian Freedom Foundation was started as a tax-exempt outfit in 1950, and before his death he had contributed $2.3 million, some of it being channeled into Third Century Publishers to fuel ultra-right Christian politics. In 1976, the CFF’s goal was to make America a “Christian Republic” by electing Christian conservatives to Congress.

Christian Economic Foundation (CEF):  'In the 1950s, after failing to move the National Council of Churches to the far right, Pew helped create the CEF. In the 1960s, it sowed the seeds of the Christian Right by sending its free magazine, Christian Economics, to clergy across the U.S.' (7)

John Birch Society (JBS): J.H. Pew was a longtime supporter and close friend of Robert Welch, who founded the JBS in 1959. For many years, it led America’s far-right, rabidly anti-communist pack. By 1963, funded largely by J.H. Pew and other oil and military corporations, the JBS had 1,000 chapters and 80,000 members.  Though pushed to the sidelines after calling Eisenhower a Communist, the John Birch Society is now one of the sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The Pew Family foundations continue to support several right-wing organizations, associated with the Republican Party in the U.S. and the Conservative Party in Canada, including:

The American Enterprise Institute: an arch-conservative lobby group with ties to Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle,  Dick Cheney and his wife Lynn. 

George Bush pulled 20 staffers from AEI, to join his administration, including David Frum, the person who organized the Winds of Change, dedicated to uniting the right (aka: the hostile takeover of the Tory Party by the Reform-Alliance), and is now a voice in our own neoconservative government.  Frum was a speechwriter for Bush, and coined the term "axis of evil".

AEI's ties to Canada go back further than Frum, however, as they also influenced the Saskatchewan government of Grant Devine.  In Privatizing a Province: The New Right in Saskatchewan, James M. Pitsula and Ken Rasmussen, write:
The new right's attack on the welfare state included a moral component contributed by the new Christian right, which claims to find sanction for private enterprise economics in the Bible. A good example of this approach comes from Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute: "I advise intelligent, ambitious, and morally serious young Christians and Jews to awaken to the growing dangers of statism. They will better save their souls and serve the cause of the Kingdom of God all around the world by restoring the liberty and power of the private sector than by working for the state."' The private sector would not only make you rich, it would save your soul. (8)
Michael Novak is also a regular speaker at the Manning Centre and the Fraser Institute, and according to Lloyd Mackey, has influenced the thinking of Stephen Harper. (9)

Another ultra-right wing group to enjoy the benefit of Pew dollars, is The Heritage Foundation.  According to SourceWatch: 'Its stated mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.'  The Heritage Foundation also receives funds from the Koch Brothers, who finance the Tea Party, and have a stake in the Alberta tar sands.

According to Reuters, Stephen Harper is using our tax dollars to build them a pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline, awaiting a thumbs up or down on a presidential permit, would increase the import of heavy oil from Canada's oil sands to the U.S. by as much as 510,000 barrels a day ... what's been left out of the ferocious debate over the pipeline, however, is the prospect that if president Obama allows a permit for the Keystone XL to be granted, he would be handing a big victory and great financial opportunity to Charles and David Koch, his bitterest political enemies and among the most powerful opponents of his clean economy agenda.

The Koch brothers are not run-of-the-mill political opponents. An investigative report last year by the New Yorker magazine on the secretive and deep-pocketed pair have shown them to be "waging a war against Obama."  They have bankrolled the Tea Party movement, climate change skepticism and right-wing think tanks, such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Obama has not shown his cards on the pipeline permit, even after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a personal appeal for swift approval at a White House meeting last week ....  After they finished with their prepared remarks, a Canadian reporter asked Harper if he had discussed the pipeline permit with President Obama. The prime minister said that "we did discuss the matter you raised," but he provided no fresh details, only a rambling rationale for why approval of the permit would be in the American interest. When Harper was done, the president offered no comment. He quickly took the next question. (10)
Yes, our man Harper.  The new shill for the Koch Brothers.

The pipeline, which will send many good Canadian jobs in the industry, South, (11) is meeting with a lot of opposition.  A decision is expected to be reached by the end of 2011.
However, if you think that Howard Pew has done enough for Canada, I'm afraid there's more to come.


1. CANADA: Texas of the North, Time Magazine, September 24, 1951

2. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, p. 14

3. Preston Manning: Roots of Reform, By: Frank Dabbs, Greystone, 2000, ISBN -13-97815-50547504 4, p. 44

4. Nickle Oil Bulletin, Calgary,  January 30, 1948

5. Black Bonanza: Canada's Oil Sands and the Race to Secure North America's Energy Future, By Alastair Sweeny,  John Wiley and Sons, 2010, ISBN: 978 0470 161 388

6. The Good Steward: The Ernest Manning Story, by Brian Brennan, Historical Society of Alberta, Winter 2009 

7. J. Howard Pew, By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004

8. Privatizing a Province: The New Right in Saskatchewan, By: James M. Pitsula and Ken Rasmussen, New Star Books, 1990, ISBN: 0-921586-10-8, Pg. 7

9. The Pilgramage of Stephen Harper, By: Lloyd Mackey, ECW Press, 2005, ISBN: 10-1-55022-713-0 , p. 94 & p. 209

10. Koch Brothers Positioned to be BigWinners if Keystone XL Pipeline is Approved, By David Sassoon, Reuters, February 10, 2011

11. Pipeline would ship oil and jobs south, By Dave Coles, Toronto Star, August 8, 2010

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