Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  52 minutes
Date:  2014
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Closed captioning available
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Fort McMoney: Vote Jim Rogers!

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Something of a follow-up to the online game/film Fort McMoney, Vote for Jim Rogers continues to explore if democracy is soluble in oil through the impact of the oil sands industry in Alberta, Canada.

Fort McMoney: Vote Jim Rogers!

After the critically-acclaimed documentary game Fort McMoney went online to a global audience, "Fort McMoney: The Film" Vote for Jim Rogers! returns with an immersive journey into Fort McMurray, Alberta, the world's third largest oil reserve and war chest of Canada. For three years, an obsession recurs in the director's work: Is democracy soluble in oil?

In this personal and subjective film, we come across Jim Rogers, a trapper, native of Fort McMurray, and unsuccessful candidate in the last municipal elections, which saw the small town become what it is today: a modern version of the gold rush, black as oil.

No classroom resources available.

WEBVTT

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Oh okay, oh! He’s a good guy.

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Look at this the door’s open.

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Yay! I’ll bring out a couple eh?

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And you can um… enjoy them. I think
the guy that was designing the signs

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was influenced by uh… zombie movies.

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(inaudible). Hey! I’m running from there.
Vote for me

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I can do a much better job
for you, your children,

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our country and our planet.
Vote Jim Rogers.

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(inaudible)

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weather automated confirmation.
Wind: 250♪3. Right now 1-2 inches.

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[music]

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[music]

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[music]

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It all began at customs

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one day in February 2011. My little
family and I had left France

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and come to Canada. When we
arrived, the immigration officer

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said to my youngest son,
\"You sure are chatty\"

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[music]

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8 months later, our new country became the
first nation in the world to withdraw

00:02:05.000 --> 00:02:09.999
from the Kyoto Protocol. The international agreement
on reducing green house as emissions. The reason being

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more economic than ecological. The reason
being a boom town in North end Alberta

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and its billions of barrels of oil –
Fort McMurray, the countries war chest.

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A place at the end of the world that
illustrated our world to everyone.

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[music]

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The oil sands are the second
largest oil deposit in the world.

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Bigger than Iraq, Iran, Russia,
preceded only by Saudi Arabia

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Digging the bitumen out of the ground,
squeezing the oil and converting into

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synthetic crude is a monumental challenge.
It requires vast amounts of capital,

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Brobdingnagian technology, and
an array of skilled workers.

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In short, it is an enterprise
of epic proportions,

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akin to the building of the pyramids
or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger.

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Money talked, and Fort McMoney – as it was called
here – was to become my home away from home

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for 3 winters at the heart of the quest.
How far can democracy bend

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to the laws of the marketplace and
to our addiction to black gold?

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That was life for 3 years – chatting and digging
to an obsession. Is democracy soluble in oil?

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[music]

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It was Philippe, my long time partner in crime with a
camera who found this camera at the entrance of the city.

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One drive around

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and it was settled, this place was going
to be our own, a world onto itself,

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full of wondrous things. Patched up
trailers, brand new mobile homes,

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a triumphant gold rush and
a shattered El Dorado.

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[music]

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Hey how’s it going? Good yeah

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Ready to go to work? Going to work Where are you going now?
Marquis said a young woman who had arrived from Vancouver

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the night prior, was the first person
to start up a conversation with us.

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Enjoy this magnificent snowstorm.
Yeah, that’s right.

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[music]

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Santa Claus is coming to town.
The legacy to (inaudible)

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Santa Claus parade is this Saturday night. Saint Nick will make
his way… Fort McMurray is supposed to be the Number 1 place

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to make money in North
America, so I came here

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to move forward in life and make money
and have different job opportunities.

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Well, at first I wanted to

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get into the oil field being like a housekeeper
for some of the camp staff accommodations right.

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Working for Suncor, or Syncrude
or something like that,

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but it was very hard to get in
and try to get a job with them.

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A lot of the camp work,

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unfortunately, they hire
a lot of immigrants

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because they can actually
pay immigrants a lot less.

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Well, I just started at the Ford dealership

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and it is the busiest Ford
dealership in North America.

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[sil.]

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I just heard so many stories
and how Fort McMurray

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is just full of guys.

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And um… you know, the
rude pigs and whatever.

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But I realized that, yes,
there’s a lot of um… men,

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or men dominated fields, but there’s
also a lot for women here to.

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It’s good to be a woman here.
I don’t like the fact

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that Fort McMurray is 5
hours from Edmonton.

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It’s on a very very crazy highway, so
I think a lot of people kind of feel

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like they’re stuck here. I don’t
know, they say Fort McMurray

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is a boom town, but,
yeah, who knows, if oil

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went down maybe nobody
would want to live here.

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I had created the documentary game based on my travels.
A game in which hundreds of thousands of people

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had taken virtual control of the town.
Now I had to end it,

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not to find out whether the game had changed
anything, but to see how the town had affected me

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and how big a price we – all of us – were
prepared to pay for our dependence on oil.

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Hey Jim.

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Hey, right on, right on.
Oh! Oh! oh! Buster!

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You remember Diddy? Oh yeah, oh yeah!
What is he doing?

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Alright come on now Hey,
happy to see you again.

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So, that’s uh…

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the game documentary You have
reached the end of the road.

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At the world’s edge. Fort McMurray
an area the size of Florida,

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larger than Hungary. The
largest industrial site

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on the planet. The world’s
3rd petroleum reserve.

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An unconventional petroleum,
expensive to extract,

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a pollutant dug up by industry giants – the Oil
Sands. You are embarking on a documentary game,

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in which everything is real.

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I’m thrilled and charmed. I’m like a primitive
looking at the mirror for the first time

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\"Wuaahh! Look at this!\".

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Yes, I know the guy. Yes! That’s me.

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There I am. Former trapper, yeah.
I could see God

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return here and say \"What
the hell have you done?

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With all of this wealth? With all
of this gifts I’ve given you?

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Is this the best you can do?
You bunch of bums,

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I’ll throw you into the fire.\"

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That’s you Jim.

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Yeah that’s right on. It’s the truth man,
it’s the truth. That’s the real truth,

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right on. Excellent, man excellent.

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I was born here, my father was in the army.

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When I was a child here, the
promise was that one day,

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the oil sands will be like
the Ruhr Valley of Canada.

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The future of Canada lies in the north.

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When this development goes ahead,
everybody was delighted to see

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at last the energy of the
world was coming to the uh…

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tar sands and we were going
to prosper everybody.

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I was a trapper here

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for maybe about 10 years.

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I’m not in the business any longer.
But in the last us…

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25 years I’ve been either
environmentally active or uh…

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looking after the properties
that I have investments in.

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See deer have been eating here.
They’re walking all around at night.

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Behind this hill, here underneath eh ground

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is a 150 feet of tar sand.
And then on the top

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is the gravel that as left by the glaciers.
I think mostly

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the uh… oil barons have been
able to uh… make an oil play

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with our government and the government
gives away their resources.

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Because of this

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oil rush kind of mentality, suddenly
there’s money all over the place,

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there’s all kind of opportunity for
people to get money in their hand.

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[music]

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They’re buying great big
homes on top of the odd body

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made of west beach board and vinyl siding,

00:11:05.000 --> 00:11:09.999
paying uh… 7… $900,000 because small
is not beautiful in Fort McMurray.

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Crazy big is crazy beautiful.

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Big new truck, big new house.
Their living expenses is so high,

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as soon as there’s some
downturn in the oil demand,

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they can’t make the payments they go back to
the bank that has already given out the money.

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They come here

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and live like uh… gold rush millionaires.
They have no option

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but to be enslaved to the oil industry.
And the oil industry

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treats them ah… like beggars.

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[sil.]

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You know that Fort McMurray is projected
across… I must have met Jim Rogers

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3 years earlier with a glance. At one of the
many meetings where I would hang around

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trying to understand what the institutions
were doing to control at all costs.

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A situation that was going too far. In the
city, many regarded Jim as a pleasant nutcase.

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The trapper was clearly on the fringes.
Jim Rogers was an ingenious jester

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and that’s what made him a friend.

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Jim was like the town, everything was like
a performance. One night he suggested

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we go to City Hall. Jim promised
that we would have a good time

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and I would learn a lot about
how the small towns managed.

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In a town dominated by men, a woman
had played a key role for years

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– Mayor Melissa Blake. Before I got elected
as mayor I was working for Syncrude.

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My husband does work for Suncor and he’s been there
for probably almost 20 years for that company now.

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I will ask those who wish to join
us now, be prepared to do so.

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Before the Christmas meeting, we have a special prayer
this evening that recites: The birth of Jesus Christ

00:13:05.000 --> 00:13:09.999
was the greatest gift of peace. May we, the elected
representatives of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo continue

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to work together in that same spirit
of peace. In your name, Amen.

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I will be pleased to call this meeting to
order. The first person to have the floor

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was this man. An industrialist lobbyist. His
words were worth a billion dollars to the town.

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He was allotted 5 minutes, he got 20 and
the respect of the municipal council.

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Fort McMoney before my eyes.
My name is Ken Chapman.

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I’m the Executive Director of the The Oil Sands Developers Group. The industry pays about
90% of the total municipal tax (inaudible) so it’s important the council appreciate

00:13:40.000 --> 00:13:44.999
investigation what is
happened in the industry.

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We, at the industry wondered if the revenue projections are relying
with this scenario of lower assessment goals going forward.

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If it is not, we see future tax increases,
there’s a growing cost pressure on the industry,

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implications of growing market discounts in oil sands
commodity prices. (inaudible) impression of market access.

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New and very competitive north American oil
suppliers and as a result we ask council

00:14:05.000 --> 00:14:09.999
to take seriously introducing non-residential
(inaudible) rates for 2013. Thank you very much

00:14:10.000 --> 00:14:14.999
for coming forward. I think it’s significant
to say that there’s a huge independence

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between our region and the oil sands industry
and I know this council has always been

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open and positive and wants to continue to
work with the oil sands without (inaudible).

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Though I appreciate the uh… perspective, but I’m not about
to change the objective that we’re trying to ensure…

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Can I respond to that? I will let you

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so long as it doesn’t provoke debate.

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You’re asking me not to provoke debate?

00:14:45.000 --> 00:14:49.999
Um… (inaudible) the execution
of (inaudible) those

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in terms of debatable revenue sources and you’ll
come work with us, actually we working with you

00:14:55.000 --> 00:14:59.999
to make sure we have the same memories and the
same understanding and appreciation and it’s done

00:15:00.000 --> 00:15:04.999
in the most responsible we paid twice(ph) as possible and
we’ll anticipate tax revenues being in a competitive basis.

00:15:05.000 --> 00:15:09.999
That’s all we’re asking. Excellent that shouldn’t be debatable because
that’s Kind of what I said too That’s what I thought. Thank you

00:15:10.000 --> 00:15:14.999
Thank you Alright, ladies and gentlemen I need
to call the vote on that accepted information.

00:15:15.000 --> 00:15:19.999
Some people said that the oil
industry impedes democracy.

00:15:20.000 --> 00:15:24.999
Yeah, but they’re wrong. That… they… those are
the people that believe that it’s a petrol state

00:15:25.000 --> 00:15:29.999
are looking for those kind of situations.
Um… the industry

00:15:30.000 --> 00:15:34.999
has a large influence on government

00:15:35.000 --> 00:15:39.999
because we’re a big part of the economy. We are
also have a large influence from government

00:15:40.000 --> 00:15:44.999
because we’re a highly regulated industry.
We get permits

00:15:45.000 --> 00:15:49.999
form governments for releases
and from environmental groups

00:15:50.000 --> 00:15:54.999
and regulators, we get
permits to do our jobs.

00:15:55.000 --> 00:15:59.999
We get permission and social license from the
society and from the owners of the resorts.

00:16:00.000 --> 00:16:04.999
The permits are not good enough in
terms of meeting our obligations,

00:16:05.000 --> 00:16:09.999
we have to meet our social license obligations
as well. So, ultimately who controls this?

00:16:10.000 --> 00:16:14.999
The owners of the asset. And when the owners
of the asset are burdened to act like owners,

00:16:15.000 --> 00:16:19.999
they will control it all. It won’t be —
It’s not even close to a petrol state.

00:16:20.000 --> 00:16:24.999
Again, I’m going to call the audience asking if anybody
wishes to appear as delegates speaking to the reports

00:16:25.000 --> 00:16:29.999
for a council this evening. Yeah. And I really
need that individual to introduce himself

00:16:30.000 --> 00:16:34.999
to the podium because he looks so
important to me There’s a little trick

00:16:35.000 --> 00:16:39.999
with the engineering studies because they’re
never going to tell you we’re a 100% sure,

00:16:40.000 --> 00:16:44.999
so maybe you shouldn’t
start building a road

00:16:45.000 --> 00:16:49.999
until we could be a 100% sure,
while that some engineers

00:16:50.000 --> 00:16:54.999
are making a lifetime career of your,

00:16:55.000 --> 00:16:59.999
our financial resources, the uh… Mr.
Rogers you know

00:17:00.000 --> 00:17:04.999
what I’m going to ask, don’t you? Can you tell me which
item you would like to speak on our agenda this evening?

00:17:05.000 --> 00:17:09.999
Yes, I’m actually uh… Responding to the
previous discussion? Yes You’re not allowed

00:17:10.000 --> 00:17:14.999
Oh okay Sorry Well then, that’s all right

00:17:15.000 --> 00:17:19.999
because I can morph anything… (inaudible).

00:17:20.000 --> 00:17:24.999
Thank you very much Mr. Rogers.
So we need somebody to put

00:17:25.000 --> 00:17:29.999
the signed information sticker around in case
there’s clarification questions. Go ahead customer.

00:17:30.000 --> 00:17:34.999
Who controls Fort McMurray?
How do you me? That’s me.

00:17:35.000 --> 00:17:39.999
It’s me and my council. Melissa Blake could
become a prominent figure in my quest.

00:17:40.000 --> 00:17:44.999
I would run into her everywhere
always smiling and full of goodwill.

00:17:45.000 --> 00:17:49.999
We thank you God for our amazing Mayor.
We ask that you give her the fortitude,

00:17:50.000 --> 00:17:54.999
the vision and the courage to lead our
community to greatness. I thank you Lord

00:17:55.000 --> 00:17:59.999
for all the people here today who also help make
Fort McMurray such a great place to live. Amen.

00:18:00.000 --> 00:18:04.999
In a way, Melissa Blake was the
mirror image of Jim Rogers.

00:18:05.000 --> 00:18:09.999
The same pride in living here, but a completely
opposite vision of it. She was always restrained,

00:18:10.000 --> 00:18:14.999
he was always bursting with things to say.
The perfection of one bounced off the chaos

00:18:15.000 --> 00:18:19.999
of the other.

00:18:20.000 --> 00:18:24.999
It was as if our civilization

00:18:25.000 --> 00:18:29.999
was being called to choose between
the mayor and the trapper.

00:18:30.000 --> 00:18:34.999
Economic pragmatism versus political
utopia. Oil against transparency,

00:18:35.000 --> 00:18:39.999
capitalism against nature.
One thing seemed sure,

00:18:40.000 --> 00:18:44.999
democracy was not at its best here. This is
a community that has an incredibly low rate

00:18:45.000 --> 00:18:49.999
of turn out at the polls or probably
lowest in the country for participation.

00:18:50.000 --> 00:18:54.999
We have a population that’s new to town maybe
not knowing who the candidates are very well

00:18:55.000 --> 00:18:59.999
and then you add that to how longs hours they are working
at say the difficulty of just getting to the polls

00:19:00.000 --> 00:19:04.999
for some people, some
families is very real.

00:19:05.000 --> 00:19:09.999
Everything in town smelled of oil and was coined
for oil. Fort McMoney illustrated the century

00:19:10.000 --> 00:19:14.999
in the hands of the marketplace
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

00:19:15.000 --> 00:19:19.999
Good afternoon everyone

00:19:20.000 --> 00:19:24.999
and welcome to the official grand opening of
ribbon cutting for the new Total Fitness Center.

00:19:25.000 --> 00:19:29.999
(inaudible) president

00:19:30.000 --> 00:19:34.999
witness as well today. Where?
Where are we going?

00:19:35.000 --> 00:19:39.999
I think up there. I am way too privileged
to be able to say thank you once again

00:19:40.000 --> 00:19:44.999
to Total and this facility behind me is
something that I have no question in terms of

00:19:45.000 --> 00:19:49.999
whether it was needed or not. You ready? …

00:19:50.000 --> 00:19:54.999
[sil.]

00:19:55.000 --> 00:19:59.999
I am so pleased to be part of the
seventh inauguration of this center…

00:20:00.000 --> 00:20:04.999
the inauguration for this
Total fitness center.

00:20:05.000 --> 00:20:09.999
I would say a lot but I am going to be back.
Thank you very much for your support.

00:20:10.000 --> 00:20:14.999
The official talk was carefully crafted and
as long as he stuck with that, life was good.

00:20:15.000 --> 00:20:19.999
But poking around in the backroom,
imagining it all coming to an end

00:20:20.000 --> 00:20:24.999
between desertion and desolation, wanting to visit
an oil mine, calling for a bit of transparency…

00:20:25.000 --> 00:20:30.000
it was frowned upon. We
were considered deadbeats.

00:20:55.000 --> 00:20:59.999
Jingle bells, jingle
bells, jingle all the way.

00:21:00.000 --> 00:21:04.999
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one
horse open sleigh. In a one horse

00:21:05.000 --> 00:21:09.999
open sleigh.

00:21:10.000 --> 00:21:14.999
Jingle jingle jingle all the way. Hey!

00:21:15.000 --> 00:21:19.999
Hello everyone! What an incredible time to
start the season. I’ve been mayor for 8 years

00:21:20.000 --> 00:21:24.999
and this is the first time in my whole time
that I’ve ever been given a magic wand.

00:21:25.000 --> 00:21:29.999
1, 2, 3, clank

00:21:30.000 --> 00:21:34.999
[music]

00:21:35.000 --> 00:21:39.999
The parade reflected the town itself.
Carefree and proud, noisy and crazy,

00:21:40.000 --> 00:21:44.999
generous and sold to brands. It was
typical of the oil rich countries,

00:21:45.000 --> 00:21:49.999
stuffed with money, bloated with private funding,
topped off with polite indifference to public good.

00:21:50.000 --> 00:21:54.999
Here comes Santa Claus!

00:21:55.000 --> 00:21:59.999
Merry Christmas everybody,

00:22:00.000 --> 00:22:04.999
merry Christmas thank you for coming out.

00:22:05.000 --> 00:22:09.999
Democracy, oil,

00:22:10.000 --> 00:22:14.999
it was as if one flowed in to the other.
The sky was blue in Fort McMurray

00:22:15.000 --> 00:22:23.000
[music]

00:23:05.000 --> 00:23:09.999
If there was one place
where everything going on

00:23:10.000 --> 00:23:14.999
in town could be seen, it was here. Showgirls
was the epicenter of the black gold rush.

00:23:15.000 --> 00:23:19.999
What you saw was what you
got, no airs or graces.

00:23:20.000 --> 00:23:24.999
The boss was a (inaudible) along
with his French name, Mr. Quevillon

00:23:25.000 --> 00:23:29.999
Everybody’s living hard,
drinking hard, playing hard.

00:23:30.000 --> 00:23:34.999
You know… spending their money… and God
bless them for spending their money.

00:23:35.000 --> 00:23:43.000
[music]

00:23:45.000 --> 00:23:49.999
There’s been millions of dollars of business
with contracts signed and so on and so forth,

00:23:50.000 --> 00:23:54.999
I would bet my salary on it.

00:23:55.000 --> 00:24:03.000
[music]

00:24:05.000 --> 00:24:13.000
[sil.]

00:24:25.000 --> 00:24:29.999
You ready to go Cuz?

00:24:30.000 --> 00:24:34.999
My name’s Carl Valdock.
I’m a bottle picker.

00:24:35.000 --> 00:24:39.999
I guess you could call me a bum. I
pay for this place picking cans,

00:24:40.000 --> 00:24:44.999
almost $1400 a month. It’s probably the
most expensive place in camp to camp.

00:24:45.000 --> 00:24:49.999
How you doing? Alright? This is my good
friend Cuz, he drinks and he smokes,

00:24:50.000 --> 00:24:54.999
I don’t swear, I do the swearing.
Right there.

00:24:55.000 --> 00:25:03.000
[sil.]

00:25:15.000 --> 00:25:19.999
There… music to my ears. I used to be
a produce manager until my alcohol

00:25:20.000 --> 00:25:24.999
got the best of me and uh… if I pick cans, its
good money in it, one year I made $52000.

00:25:25.000 --> 00:25:29.999
Everything’s 10 cents, 15
cents, you’re paying taxes.

00:25:30.000 --> 00:25:34.999
[sil.]

00:25:35.000 --> 00:25:39.999
At the start of the month it’s terrible,

00:25:40.000 --> 00:25:44.999
everybody’s paying their bills. At
the end of the month it’s terrible,

00:25:45.000 --> 00:25:49.999
car payments. But the middle of the month,
it’s pretty good. They drink more…25 cents.

00:25:50.000 --> 00:25:54.999
I wearing that costume was
giving him gloves all the time.

00:25:55.000 --> 00:25:59.999
He was always losing his gloves. He
had socks on his hands. I said \"uh…

00:26:00.000 --> 00:26:04.999
how about we just ask God, he’s always good to
us, how about I ask him for a pair of gloves?\".

00:26:05.000 --> 00:26:09.999
So we jumped in one dumpster, we
didn’t get no gloves. Sitting at this

00:26:10.000 --> 00:26:14.999
ledge drinking beer and this guy shouts down from the third
floor, he says \"you guys want these gloves? They’re brand new.\"

00:26:15.000 --> 00:26:19.999
And then he gave us each 20 bucks.
We can’t say that there’s no God,

00:26:20.000 --> 00:26:24.999
because he sure uh… loves the
homeless people in Fort McMurray.

00:26:25.000 --> 00:26:29.999
I never starve here. Never
starving in Fort McMurray.

00:26:30.000 --> 00:26:34.999
We keep it clean, we don’t bother nobody.

00:26:35.000 --> 00:26:39.999
Nice people here.

00:26:40.000 --> 00:26:44.999
[music]

00:26:45.000 --> 00:26:49.999
It’s going to be a full
moon pretty soon too eh?

00:26:50.000 --> 00:26:58.000
[music]

00:27:25.000 --> 00:27:29.999
At a charity gala for the hospital, with
the little town decked out like Dallas,

00:27:30.000 --> 00:27:34.999
a woman caught my eye. She was the
director of the Fort McMurray food bank.

00:27:35.000 --> 00:27:39.999
What she had to say resonated
beyond the oil town.

00:27:40.000 --> 00:27:44.999
She pierced the veil in a world
in its growing inequality.

00:27:45.000 --> 00:27:49.999
Our biggest fund raiser is once a year.
All of our major oil companies

00:27:50.000 --> 00:27:54.999
contribute to that, from Syncrude,
Suncor, CNRL, Nexen, Imperia, Shell.

00:27:55.000 --> 00:27:59.999
All of them contribute to that event.

00:28:00.000 --> 00:28:04.999
Certainly, some people are in a
situation where the oil companies have

00:28:05.000 --> 00:28:09.999
raised their salaries so much that our rents have
gone up so much and now they can’t afford it,

00:28:10.000 --> 00:28:14.999
um… because they don’t
work in the oil industry.

00:28:15.000 --> 00:28:19.999
But, the oil industry… I would say it’s the other way
around, the oil industry recognizes that they’re doing that

00:28:20.000 --> 00:28:24.999
and therefore makes sure that the services have
the support they need. Its capitalism right?

00:28:25.000 --> 00:28:29.999
Isn’t it? I mean… that’s the
way… it’s a democratic world.

00:28:30.000 --> 00:28:34.999
It was the perfect trick,
a shifting meaning

00:28:35.000 --> 00:28:39.999
that said it all. Fort McMurray was the symbol
of our times, when (inaudible) democracy

00:28:40.000 --> 00:28:44.999
has become confused with capitalism and capitalism
triumphant, would do pretty much what it wanted.

00:28:45.000 --> 00:28:49.999
Jim was one of the very few to resist in his
own way. He had even dared to take on politics

00:28:50.000 --> 00:28:54.999
on its own playing field. The trapper had run in the
municipal election shortly before my last trip.

00:28:55.000 --> 00:28:59.999
10% of the voters had cast
their ballot for Jim Rogers.

00:29:00.000 --> 00:29:04.999
You want to be the mayor? Well, I’ll tell
you what, if I was running this show,

00:29:05.000 --> 00:29:09.999
it would be very… very different.
Because I enrich the debate.

00:29:10.000 --> 00:29:14.999
I bring uh… illumination

00:29:15.000 --> 00:29:19.999
to dark corners or uh… unspoken
things hats should be spoken.

00:29:20.000 --> 00:29:24.999
The masters of industry and their
apologists are the architects

00:29:25.000 --> 00:29:29.999
of this incredible corrupt
system that allows that

00:29:30.000 --> 00:29:34.999
they all get employed, they
all determine the agenda,

00:29:35.000 --> 00:29:39.999
they all run the show and the public pays

00:29:40.000 --> 00:29:44.999
to be brainwashed and deluded and robbed.
It’s a bit of a sad,

00:29:45.000 --> 00:29:49.999
kind of a \"democracy\" that’s we have.
I think I just formed that,

00:29:50.000 --> 00:29:54.999
maybe from the Greek \"demonic and mockery\".
\"Democksracy\"

00:29:55.000 --> 00:29:59.999
uh… \"Demockracy\"

00:30:00.000 --> 00:30:04.999
And why people here don’t vote?
There’s uh… no interest in voting,

00:30:05.000 --> 00:30:09.999
in fact, even to talk about voting for me,

00:30:10.000 --> 00:30:14.999
to wear a button that said \"I vote for
Jim Rogers\" could cost you your job

00:30:15.000 --> 00:30:19.999
and with no job, you can’t
make any mortgage payments,

00:30:20.000 --> 00:30:24.999
you might as well hitchhike away
fast, you know? Show me this

00:30:25.000 --> 00:30:29.999
I’m going to bring it over there,

00:30:30.000 --> 00:30:34.999
you don’t have to move
around No no its okay.

00:30:35.000 --> 00:30:39.999
I didn’t think I was going
to do this part today.

00:30:40.000 --> 00:30:48.000
[sil.]

00:30:50.000 --> 00:30:54.999
There it is.

00:30:55.000 --> 00:30:59.999
So now, do your speech. Hey, I’m uh…

00:31:00.000 --> 00:31:04.999
prepared to do a better
job than the present uh…

00:31:05.000 --> 00:31:09.999
That’s bullshit, that’s bullshit, that’s bullshit
speech (inaudible) you got, take it easy now.

00:31:10.000 --> 00:31:14.999
I was thinking that maybe if
the windows were too bright,

00:31:15.000 --> 00:31:19.999
we could put my flag on there.
Proud Alberton.

00:31:20.000 --> 00:31:28.000
[sil.]

00:31:40.000 --> 00:31:44.999
To see the extent of the excess, you had
to leave town and follow the buses.

00:31:45.000 --> 00:31:49.999
There were invisible people everywhere.
They were called the shadow population.

00:31:50.000 --> 00:31:54.999
40,000 workers in the dark, coming
and going from around the world.

00:31:55.000 --> 00:31:59.999
On private landing strips, day
and night, summer and winter.

00:32:00.000 --> 00:32:04.999
These men were both rich and exhausted.
Spend one night in a ward camp

00:32:05.000 --> 00:32:09.999
and you understood. This shadow population
was the price the industry agreed to pay

00:32:10.000 --> 00:32:14.999
in exchange for holding the reins of power. These
men had no attachment to the white expanse

00:32:15.000 --> 00:32:19.999
they were digging up and didn’t give a damn about
it. It wasn’t their land. Who could blame them?

00:32:20.000 --> 00:32:24.999
They didn’t vote, they didn’t get involved.

00:32:25.000 --> 00:32:29.999
That was the deal.

00:32:30.000 --> 00:32:38.000
[sil.]

00:33:20.000 --> 00:33:24.999
Northbound motorists

00:33:25.000 --> 00:33:29.999
are reminded to travel with caution
when traversing the four winter road.

00:33:30.000 --> 00:33:34.999
There are no regular services on the winter
road like gas stations or road patrols

00:33:35.000 --> 00:33:39.999
and cell phone coverage is very limited.

00:33:40.000 --> 00:33:44.999
Jim Rogers promised me that we
would have an unforgettable trip,

00:33:45.000 --> 00:33:49.999
driving north of the
mines to Fort Chipewyan.

00:33:50.000 --> 00:33:58.000
[music]

00:34:20.000 --> 00:34:24.999
Over the years, driving that ice road

00:34:25.000 --> 00:34:29.999
to that village had become my holy grail.

00:34:30.000 --> 00:34:34.999
[music]

00:34:35.000 --> 00:34:39.999
Heading north, into the cold,

00:34:40.000 --> 00:34:44.999
to the delta and finally reaching
the Athabasca River– the frozen,

00:34:45.000 --> 00:34:49.999
polluted river. The long minutes of
crossing on water, ice, emptiness and fear.

00:34:50.000 --> 00:34:58.000
[music]

00:35:00.000 --> 00:35:04.999
In recent years,

00:35:05.000 --> 00:35:09.999
alarming rates of rare cancers had been
detected. And the independent studies

00:35:10.000 --> 00:35:14.999
that were called for had never been
received. We reached our destination

00:35:15.000 --> 00:35:19.999
and went to warm up on this café,
managed by a Chinese woman name Kim.

00:35:20.000 --> 00:35:24.999
Her jukebox belt out long forgotten oldies.
The lone customer invited us out to dance.

00:35:25.000 --> 00:35:29.999
She was the sister of the head of the
village. The very person I was here to meet –

00:35:30.000 --> 00:35:34.999
Alan Adam

00:35:35.000 --> 00:35:39.999
They call it development,
we call it destruction.

00:35:40.000 --> 00:35:44.999
I’ve got mixed emotions with
regards to what goes on out there.

00:35:45.000 --> 00:35:49.999
They call us home-grown terrorists, we call ourselves
protectors of mother earth in this region,

00:35:50.000 --> 00:35:54.999
you know, we stand for the
betterment of this community.

00:35:55.000 --> 00:35:59.999
[sil.]

00:36:00.000 --> 00:36:04.999
We are not totally against development,
we are not totally for it and uh…

00:36:05.000 --> 00:36:09.999
if they can’t clean up their mess,
we are not going to give them

00:36:10.000 --> 00:36:14.999
our approval to go build another one.

00:36:15.000 --> 00:36:19.999
When they threatened community
leaders or community people that

00:36:20.000 --> 00:36:24.999
\"if you keep doing what you’re doing, we will take
your jobs away from you and we will not provide

00:36:25.000 --> 00:36:29.999
an economy for your community
or for your nation.

00:36:30.000 --> 00:36:34.999
That is the side effects of both speaking
out in regards to what we’re doing.

00:36:35.000 --> 00:36:39.999
I think both, the federal and
provincial governments are just puppets

00:36:40.000 --> 00:36:44.999
to big corporations uh… in this region.

00:36:45.000 --> 00:36:49.999
Because they say what
industry wants them to say.

00:36:50.000 --> 00:36:58.000
[sil.]

00:37:00.000 --> 00:37:04.999
I’m currently old,

00:37:05.000 --> 00:37:09.999
I’m so many years old. We can
smell Syncrude and Suncor,

00:37:10.000 --> 00:37:14.999
smell even the sky is kind of bluish,
you know, when the (inaudible) come in.

00:37:15.000 --> 00:37:19.999
They are not protecting
our water or anything.

00:37:20.000 --> 00:37:24.999
They’ve doing it for money. Take…
take… take… take… nothing in return.

00:37:25.000 --> 00:37:29.999
It’s hard.

00:37:30.000 --> 00:37:34.999
There’re some powerful native people.
They know what’s

00:37:35.000 --> 00:37:39.999
(inaudible) and the spirits are warning
us \"Kaya\" they said. Kaya means doom.

00:37:40.000 --> 00:37:48.000
[sil.]

00:38:15.000 --> 00:38:19.999
You see, these are same
kind of fish, pickerel,

00:38:20.000 --> 00:38:24.999
that one looks normal to each
(inaudible), but this one here,

00:38:25.000 --> 00:38:29.999
on top here, (inaudible) the head.

00:38:30.000 --> 00:38:34.999
I’ve been a commercial fisherman for 55
years and in the whole lake Athabasca,

00:38:35.000 --> 00:38:39.999
ever seen fish like this. Someone
told us that the oil companies

00:38:40.000 --> 00:38:44.999
pay a lot of money to people here Some of them
they do that. They come here and they buy turkeys

00:38:45.000 --> 00:38:49.999
and put suppers for them and in the meetings
they give them $300. They’re paying us

00:38:50.000 --> 00:38:54.999
to keep our mouths shut \"Don’t do that\"
you know, the oil companies. Do what

00:38:55.000 --> 00:38:59.999
we want them to do – quit polluting.
There’s something in the water.

00:39:00.000 --> 00:39:04.999
The big oil companies have been
discharging here for the last 40 years.

00:39:05.000 --> 00:39:09.999
And nobody seems to want to listen
to us that they’re destroying

00:39:10.000 --> 00:39:14.999
everything in the delta here.

00:39:15.000 --> 00:39:19.999
[sil.]

00:39:20.000 --> 00:39:24.999
Can I shake your hand? To say Thank you.

00:39:25.000 --> 00:39:29.999
You’re welcome Sir, anytime.

00:39:30.000 --> 00:39:34.999
Heading back

00:39:35.000 --> 00:39:39.999
there was only one thing I was looking forward to.
Seeing Jim Rogers again and to get away from here

00:39:40.000 --> 00:39:44.999
and here I’m left. But it was a
long drive, Christmas was coming

00:39:45.000 --> 00:39:49.999
and I was thinking again about my conversation a little
earlier with the minister of environment of Alberta.

00:39:50.000 --> 00:39:54.999
The oil industry,

00:39:55.000 --> 00:39:59.999
money towards the CO2 They have to
report the emissions to us, yup.

00:40:00.000 --> 00:40:04.999
But, how can I

00:40:05.000 --> 00:40:09.999
be sure to trust them? Yeah, well they
have to do their reporting for us

00:40:10.000 --> 00:40:14.999
and then that’s evaluated from the department as well and
certainly what I would be happy to do is get you that information

00:40:15.000 --> 00:40:19.999
so you can review that. That’s all publicly
available and happy to get all of that for you

00:40:20.000 --> 00:40:24.999
and share it with you. But why don’t you do

00:40:25.000 --> 00:40:29.999
yourself the monitoring of CO2?
So they report that to us

00:40:30.000 --> 00:40:34.999
and we have compliance mechanisms that we check on all
of that piece, but that…that’s how it is in Alberta.

00:40:35.000 --> 00:40:39.999
So they are reporting it to us and
we have the compliance department

00:40:40.000 --> 00:40:44.999
that visits those and to make sure and they evaluate
to make sure that those numbers are correct.

00:40:45.000 --> 00:40:49.999
Thank you Thank you very much.

00:40:50.000 --> 00:40:54.999
When we finished, Diana McQueen told me to
view our meeting as a Christmas present.

00:40:55.000 --> 00:40:59.999
I never knew what she meant by that.
Was it a gift or a regret?

00:41:00.000 --> 00:41:04.999
One thing was certain, everything was legal and
above board. That was precisely the problem.

00:41:05.000 --> 00:41:09.999
One particular book sowed the
seeds of doubt in my mind.

00:41:10.000 --> 00:41:14.999
Andrew Nikiforuk devoted his life to the
issues around oil. He spent an entire morning

00:41:15.000 --> 00:41:19.999
with me in his home. He
took pains to be clear.

00:41:20.000 --> 00:41:24.999
Oil is really a curse for a country
because it brings in so much money

00:41:25.000 --> 00:41:29.999
and raises so many moral and issues

00:41:30.000 --> 00:41:34.999
that it becomes really difficult not
to be changed and not to become

00:41:35.000 --> 00:41:39.999
entirely dysfunctional. So, if
you’re a democracy and you find oil,

00:41:40.000 --> 00:41:44.999
what the political scientists
have found over time

00:41:45.000 --> 00:41:49.999
is that oil basically corrodes every
institution. And it does so just by its scale

00:41:50.000 --> 00:41:54.999
and by the power of dollars
and by the power of revenue.

00:41:55.000 --> 00:41:59.999
And by the fact that all power then tends to
get more and more concentrated over time.

00:42:00.000 --> 00:42:04.999
So your democratic institutions
become less accountable,

00:42:05.000 --> 00:42:09.999
public representation declines
because people aren’t being taxed

00:42:10.000 --> 00:42:14.999
and you see an erosion of
democratic institutions.

00:42:15.000 --> 00:42:19.999
[sil.]

00:42:20.000 --> 00:42:24.999
Canada still hasn’t had a national debate
about the pace and scale of this project.

00:42:25.000 --> 00:42:29.999
And I think one of the reasons we haven’t done so
is because we are natural resource developers.

00:42:30.000 --> 00:42:34.999
We are a mining people, that’s what we do.
We dig holes in the ground,

00:42:35.000 --> 00:42:39.999
we pull out the resources, we don’t have any value to
them and we send them somewhere else in the world.

00:42:40.000 --> 00:42:44.999
And in order to have the debate about the tar sands, then we
really have to have a debate about the Canadian character.

00:42:45.000 --> 00:42:49.999
Who are we, as a people? And what are
we doing and what are we doing it for?

00:42:50.000 --> 00:42:54.999
And we’re afraid to ask
ourselves those questions.

00:42:55.000 --> 00:42:59.999
At the Fort McMurray airport

00:43:00.000 --> 00:43:04.999
I ran into a fan who travelled back and forth even more
often than I did. I liked the sharp sound of his name:

00:43:05.000 --> 00:43:09.999
Travis Davies, and his
prolonged way of speaking.

00:43:10.000 --> 00:43:14.999
Travis Davies was the spokesperson for
the giants of the Canadian oil industry

00:43:15.000 --> 00:43:19.999
Some people say that the oil industry
impedes democracy? Only to the degree that

00:43:20.000 --> 00:43:24.999
the oil and gas industry has fostered
education, paid for you know,

00:43:25.000 --> 00:43:29.999
the rubber on the bottom of your shoes that
extends a lifetime, improves the quality of life,

00:43:30.000 --> 00:43:34.999
I would say it has improved democracy.
More educated people,

00:43:35.000 --> 00:43:39.999
making more educated decisions
which is good for democracy.

00:43:40.000 --> 00:43:44.999
[music]

00:43:45.000 --> 00:43:49.999
The lobbyist said it all. The oil companies had
the lead, in the world and on the dance floor.

00:43:50.000 --> 00:43:54.999
It looked like that of the crows that Jim
fed in that (inaudible) in the area.

00:43:55.000 --> 00:43:59.999
Gobbling up the town as the oil
companies gobbled up the ground.

00:44:00.000 --> 00:44:04.999
What if this dance was
ours before all else?

00:44:05.000 --> 00:44:13.000
[music]

00:44:25.000 --> 00:44:29.999
Year after year, I couldn’t
take anymore of this town.

00:44:30.000 --> 00:44:34.999
The town I had spent part of my life in.
It was my guilty conscience for polluting.

00:44:35.000 --> 00:44:43.000
Suddenly a silhouette appeared
to my left Hi, come on in,

00:44:55.000 --> 00:44:59.999
come on in. Thank you Carl You’re
welcome, which one you want?

00:45:00.000 --> 00:45:04.999
This one and this one… You want to hold it for
him or? They’re both plain For him? Yeah sure.

00:45:05.000 --> 00:45:09.999
It was a big surprise you know? To see
you just like… Yeah… still doing it.

00:45:10.000 --> 00:45:14.999
I should get a job but… yeah I don’t know,

00:45:15.000 --> 00:45:19.999
I’m stuck in a rut So,
you didn’t see the game?

00:45:20.000 --> 00:45:24.999
Our documentary?

00:45:25.000 --> 00:45:29.999
No, No, I never did, no. Oh yeah.

00:45:30.000 --> 00:45:38.000
[music]

00:45:40.000 --> 00:45:44.999
We don’t tell anybody where this is eh?
Because we don’t want anybody here eh Cuz?

00:45:45.000 --> 00:45:49.999
And look at this picture That’s nice.

00:45:50.000 --> 00:45:54.999
Poor old Cuz eh? He needed help,
he couldn’t look after himself,

00:45:55.000 --> 00:45:59.999
and he stopped listening to me,
found behind some place, frozen.

00:46:00.000 --> 00:46:04.999
He was a burden on society so
they cremated him I guess,

00:46:05.000 --> 00:46:09.999
they didn’t even send him back home to be seen. His
sister wanted him. That’s what I heard. Do you want it?

00:46:10.000 --> 00:46:14.999
The picture? Yeah. Yeah, yeah oh
yeah I’ll make a copy My old buddy.

00:46:15.000 --> 00:46:19.999
I had some but not… he didn’t
like taking pictures of him,

00:46:20.000 --> 00:46:24.999
but he went for this it was good.

00:46:25.000 --> 00:46:29.999
[sil.]

00:46:30.000 --> 00:46:34.999
My 3-year immersion was coming to an end

00:46:35.000 --> 00:46:39.999
when the unthinkable happened. Persistence
paid off and one company had agreed

00:46:40.000 --> 00:46:44.999
at the last minute to open
of its mine sites to us.

00:46:45.000 --> 00:46:49.999
After all the land of (inaudible) belongs
to the crown, thus to the people.

00:46:50.000 --> 00:46:54.999
Some small degree of transparency was called
for, at least we all acted as if it was.

00:46:55.000 --> 00:46:59.999
Okay. Good afternoon, I’m the manager of
communications here at Shell Albian sands,

00:47:00.000 --> 00:47:04.999
and uh…a warm welcome here today. On the
way, the company representative emphasized

00:47:05.000 --> 00:47:09.999
how visits were ordinarily reserved for
executives or lobbyists as if they were trophies.

00:47:10.000 --> 00:47:14.999
Um… last year we did uh…38. Yeah

00:47:15.000 --> 00:47:19.999
and the year before sometimes 40 right?
Mostly policy makers,

00:47:20.000 --> 00:47:24.999
yeah, government. National oil
companies, uh… our own people,

00:47:25.000 --> 00:47:29.999
you know? right? Because they want to come
and see us and we want them to work here.

00:47:30.000 --> 00:47:34.999
But, you know, we support a lot of
government relations right? So we have

00:47:35.000 --> 00:47:39.999
an office in Washington
DC, and you know, yeah.

00:47:40.000 --> 00:47:48.000
[sil.]

00:47:55.000 --> 00:47:59.999
So we’re going to stop down

00:48:00.000 --> 00:48:04.999
right about here, it’s good.

00:48:05.000 --> 00:48:09.999
[sil.]

00:48:10.000 --> 00:48:14.999
I think we had a blasting operation.

00:48:15.000 --> 00:48:19.999
Phew. We have a camera crew here, external,

00:48:20.000 --> 00:48:24.999
so I need to know when they’re
going to blast in future. Okay

00:48:25.000 --> 00:48:29.999
Because that’s not very nice right?
Excuse me.

00:48:30.000 --> 00:48:34.999
Yeah, we can’t film that. I
don’t want you to film that,

00:48:35.000 --> 00:48:39.999
you can film all the way…say from there…
no we’re looking at our neighbors here.

00:48:40.000 --> 00:48:44.999
Right? We’re looking at our neighbors, that’s
not us across the way. When that… when that…

00:48:45.000 --> 00:48:49.999
we just did a blast so we’ve begun
blasting in the uh… in the mine.

00:48:50.000 --> 00:48:54.999
Because that can loosen everything up and improve
production. So that’s unusual, we don’t do that very often.

00:48:55.000 --> 00:48:59.999
It’s the first time I’ve heard of it or seen
it. But I don’t know if we have clearance

00:49:00.000 --> 00:49:04.999
to film that. So I…I didn’t know they were doing
that today or else I would’ve asked. Yeah.

00:49:05.000 --> 00:49:09.999
Okay. Philippe had complied
with requests not to film

00:49:10.000 --> 00:49:14.999
and I didn’t pursue it. The smiling censorship
was a perfect counterpoint to the landscape

00:49:15.000 --> 00:49:19.999
and the oil company’s efforts in
the town: lunar and devastating.

00:49:20.000 --> 00:49:24.999
The democratic tale was enveloped in the
cloud of sulphur, floating in suspense.

00:49:25.000 --> 00:49:29.999
[music]

00:49:30.000 --> 00:49:34.999
At the end of each match
of the documentary game,

00:49:35.000 --> 00:49:39.999
the result was the same and without subject to appeal.
The players all voted against the development

00:49:40.000 --> 00:49:44.999
of the oil sands and Fort McMurray
always ended up a ghost town.

00:49:45.000 --> 00:49:49.999
When it came time for the final handshakes,
I asked Jim what he thought of it all.

00:49:50.000 --> 00:49:54.999
For once, Jim took his time,
as if he was figuring out

00:49:55.000 --> 00:49:59.999
how to rewrite the future. I’m fearing
that that is almost the plan,

00:50:00.000 --> 00:50:04.999
to take resources, to move
out as much as they can,

00:50:05.000 --> 00:50:09.999
to leave a pipeline and a skeleton crew

00:50:10.000 --> 00:50:14.999
to operate the underground steam
injection and put the wealth of Canada

00:50:15.000 --> 00:50:19.999
into a pipeline and take it away.

00:50:20.000 --> 00:50:24.999
The global market dictates what becomes a
ghost town and what becomes a boom town.

00:50:25.000 --> 00:50:29.999
There is no big wealth here,

00:50:30.000 --> 00:50:34.999
except maybe in the pockets of the
oil barons and their lackeys.

00:50:35.000 --> 00:50:39.999
[music]

00:50:40.000 --> 00:50:44.999
Jim was no doubt correct. This was
the plan, dig a hole and leave.

00:50:45.000 --> 00:50:49.999
Nobody knew when or how.
As is often the case,

00:50:50.000 --> 00:50:54.999
amnesia would do its job and in the
meantime, oil had won with the complicity

00:50:55.000 --> 00:50:59.999
of everyone of us. At
this point, it seemed as

00:51:00.000 --> 00:51:04.999
if all that was left of democracy
was an empty façade and ruins.

00:51:05.000 --> 00:51:13.000
[music]

No reviews available.

Citation

Main credits

Dufresne, David (filmmaker)
Dufresne, David (film director)
Huysmans, Raphaëlle (film producer)
Tremblay, Louis-Richard (film producer)
Willieme, Dominique (film producer)
Brown, Gabriel (narrator)

Other credits

Camera, Philippe Brault; editing, Alain Loiselle; original music, Ramachandra Borcar.


Distributor credits

Docuseek subjects

Democracy
Energy Sector
Local Economies
Energy
Canada
Fossil Fuels

Distributor subjects

No distributor subjects provided.

Keywords

; "Fort McMoney: Vote Jim Rogers!"; National Film Board of Canada; oil sands; tar sands; money and politics; fort mcmoney; oil;

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