Norway’s experience with Big Oil offers lessons for Idle No More

by: Obert Madondo | Jan. 21, 2013

Idle No More protest on Parliament Hill. Dec 21, 2012. OBERT MADONDO The Canadian Progressive

Idle No More protest on Parliament Hill. Dec 21, 2012. OBERT MADONDO The Canadian Progressive

Norway’s experience with Big Oil offers lessons for Idle No More and other progressive movements determined to stop Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives from turning Canada into a petro-state.

Earlier, I blogged about a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which compares the Canada and Alberta experiences to that of Norway, another major petroleum producing and exporting country. The Harper Conservatives are progressively giving foreign and domestic Big Oil interests the driver’s seat. According to environmental groups, Canada’s lucrative tar sands are now 71% foreign-owned. Big Oil appropriates a disproportionate share of our petro-wealth.

The social and national security consequences? Canada now has one of the highest levels of inequality in the OECD. In Alberta, the epicentre of the Canadian tar sands industry, inequality is substantially higher than the Canadian average. Both Canada and Alberta are climate laggards.

Then there are national security implications. In a recent annual report, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada’s national intelligence organization, warned that domination by foreign corporations “can pose a threat to national security” to Canada.

The Norwegians took a very different path and achieved radically different results. They stood up to powerful outside Big Oil interests.

From The Tye:

By standing their ground with a clear vision and united front, Norwegians negotiated arguably the toughest ever terms with the world’s most powerful industrial sector. They now enjoy full employment, no debt, generous social programs, and have over $600 billion in the bank – putting them $1.2 trillion ahead of Canada. MORE

As a result, Norway has been very effective in distributing the benefits of oil wealth both regionally and throughout its population. It’s maintained one of the lowest levels of income inequality in the world. Furthermore, Norway is a climate leader with the most ambitious carbon reduction plan in the industrialized world.

This is ultimately where Idle No More wants to be. And we, non-native progressive Canadians, owe the fledgling movement and hunger-striking Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence the support they need to succeed in their continuing path of civil disobedience. The Conservatives’ bills that enraged First Nations and sparked Idle No More are a direct consequence of our dysfunctional electoral and legislative systems. Harper’s got an undeserved majority government. Omnibus “budget” bills, C-38 and C-45 are two of the numerous draconian pieces of legislation the Conservatives recently rammed through Parliament with very little consultation and debate.


Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on 

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He's the founder and editor of these independent publications: The Canadian Progressive, a political blog dedicated to progressive Canadian journalism; The Zimbabwean Progressive, a political blog dedicated to producing fearless, progressive, adversarial, unapologetic, and activism-oriented Zimbabwean journalism; and Charity Files, a publication dedicated to journalism in the charitable public's interest. Follow Obert on Twitter: @Obiemad