Apart from the stock shots of effluent pipes and belching smokestacks, Naomi Klein’s idea of objectivity about the Alberta oilsands is to find a worker prepared to blow his nose on a banknote in a Fort McMurray bar.
Scenes like this make Klein’s documentary This Changes Everything, which will air on CBC on Thursday night, not just intellectually vacuous but downright objectionable.
The guy using the currency as nasal tissue might well now be out of a job, not just because of the oil price collapse, but because of the prominent role played by Klein in killing the Keystone XL pipeline and thus draining billions from the Alberta economy.
Much of the movie, which is based on Klein’s endless book of the same name, takes the form of a series of confrontations between local people and some form of development: the oilsands in Alberta; pipelines, coal and shale in Montana and Wyoming; a coal-fired electricity plant in India; a goldmine in Greece; killer smog in Beijing.
The propaganda sequence runs roughly: riot, teargas (not required in Beijing), shots of people running and screaming, rinse and repeat.
This is not to suggest that consultation with local communities is not necessary, but things are in fact not quite as simple as presented. In Kleinworld, agitation is often organized by multinational environmental NGOs with an anti-development agenda and little or no concern for local people’s welfare.
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