Why Alberta should fund "Dirty Oil"


Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Community Spirit has an arithmetic problem.

He thinks  provincial funding for a documentary questioning the Alberta oil sands  just doesn’t add up.

It’s wackier and crazier than a common sense guy like me can understand,” was how Minister Lindsay Blackett characterized the film Dirty Oil being subsidized through the Alberta Multimedia Development Fund.

His statement looks like it came from the Department of Redundancy Department. But he’s understandably confused, because Alberta is spending a mere $25 million to improve its environmental image, while this documentary is costing the province the vast sum of $54,000 to present the opposite view!

Poor Minister Blackett, struggling with elementary concepts like “democracy” and “dissent” and “math”.

I thought I’d help the minister learn his numbers from one to ten. Here goes:

  1. 1. Authoritarian regimes quash dissent. Democracies welcome it.
  2. 2. “Good for business” is not always good for people, animals or nature.
  3. 3. Governments change regularly. The oil sands’ impact is forever.
  4. 4. Government and industry oversight on the oil sands project is scanty.
  5. 5. Environmental concerns about the oil sands deserve to be addressed.
  6. 6. $54,700 on a documentary is paltry compared to $25 million on PR.
  7. 7. Pulling funding from “green” docs won’t help Alberta’s image problem.
  8. 8. Movies fuel the economy too.
  9. 9. Film funds are from lotteries,  not earmarked for “oil-positive” projects.
  10. 10. Documentary film is a key part of contemporary Canadian culture.

    Mr. Blackett claims he’s a big culture backer. In his own words on Twitter, “lindsayblackett is excited for Alberta Arts Days, September 17-19. Let’s celebrated our Arts and Culture and makes us one of Canada’s leaders” (sic).

    Note that his grammar is as bad as his math: LindsayBlackett.com offers “Changes That Works For Albertans” (sic).

    But maybe Minister Blackett is too busy right now to keep his minor matters straight. Click on the link that says “What am I doing right now?” on his website, and it takes you to Facebook.

    Minister Lindsay Blackett says he has made a commitment to “Tell it like it is” on the subject of the oil sands. He should welcome lots of contributions to that effort – from multiple points of view, and not just the ones the government endorses.

    Dirty Oil is one of a trilogy called Toxic Fuels that also includes H2Oil and Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, distributed by Dogwoof .

    Below is the trailer for Dirty Oil. The film will be shown at the Calgary International Film Festival, which the province of Alberta declined to fund this year.

    You do the math!

    2 comments on “Why Alberta should fund "Dirty Oil"

    1. For someone employed in the industry, this is an interesting issue. You were not completely accurate in your math exercise:
      1. I agree and said so from the very beginning to the horror of my friends who were expecting my usual right-wing response.
      2. That comment was likely true last century but we can, and do, both.
      3. Not in Alberta.
      4. We have a regulatory regime that is the envy of the world. of late they have become more activist and anti-industry, but that’s for another day.
      5. They are every day!
      6. I totally agree. My MLA gets just under that amount for a car allowance.
      7. I agree again.
      8. The film industry is so completely subsidized in this province that it doesn’t really fuel the economy but recycles tax dollars back to the people who paid taxes in the first place, nothing is actually created.
      9. Gaming funds are nothing more than a tax on the stupid. Your point is irrelevant.
      10. A true documentary would be balanced and examine all the issues. Another Al Gore inspired sicence fiction crapfest does nothing to help anyone.

    2. Oops, that should read “science fiction”.

      My point is, I agree with the funding, not with your attempt to use this issue to go off on several tangents.

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