Reflecting on Tri Continental Film Festival – Dirty Oil

On Sunday the 3rd of October 2010 I attended the first day of the Tri Continental Film Festival at Rosebank Mall’s Cinema Nouveau. I went in the hope of finding a last minute ticket and was also willing to purchase black market ones’ at exorbitant prices as well.  To my surprise, it was rather empty.  Unfortunately it seems that not many people were interested in learning about the challenges that affect other people in other places.

I decided to watch Dirty Oil, which is a behind the scenes look into Canada’s Tar Sands – the striped-mined world of Northern Alberta, where vast and toxic oil sands supply the US with the majority of its oil. What was striking for me is the total disregard politicians and corporates have for people or the environment. People and the environment are just ‘Collateral Damage’ in the quest for must have profit margins.

The documentary focuses on the impact the mining has on a small community who live in its vicinity. As a result of the mining, these people are denied access to safe drinking water and they are now riddled with health issues and their overall quality of life is on a downward spiral. A doctor trying to help this community by investigating the recent spike in cancers and other new diseases and illnesses had his licence revoked and is facing perscution.  It left me feeling sick in my stomach and angry at the powers that be.

Yes, we need oil for our economy to function, but at what cost? At what point does the cost become too much to bear? More importantly for me is, if governments provide the license for mining why don’t they also ensure that those companies are liable for the cleanup. Yes I know we will pay more for oil, but we pay for the cleanup anyway while some fat cats take no responsibility and spends his time counting his profits. I would rather pay for ensuring there is no pollution in the first place than pay for the devastation after the fact.

To quote from the documentary “Saving civilisation is not a spectator sport”.


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