Sustainable Deception (Deception Durable)
Directed by Michelle Moore and William Ray (2017)
Sustainable Deception is a bilingual documentary about the devastating effects of oil and gas mining at opposite ends of Canada. What I found most interesting about the film were the uncanny similarities with our experience with fracking here in Taranaki.
The French segments of the film cover the town of Sept Iles in Quebec and the English segments the massive tar sands project in Alberta. French and English segments are placed back to pack to highlight the parallels between the two regions:
- Despite constant promises of jobs and prosperity, all the oil and gas revenue exits local communities, leaving them with a net decrease in income and struggling to pay for increased infrastructure costs.
- Environmental destruction from oil and gas mining converts pristine forest landscapes into industrial brown sites, pollutes waterways and destroys organic farms, fishing and other local businesses. It also increases local cancer rates.
- Fluctuating global commodity prices lead to boom and bust cycles, fueling higher rates of homelessness, hunger, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse.
- Oil and gas companies subsidize a succession of corrupt right wing governments who systematically deny local residents any input into planning decisions around oil and gas and other mining.
- Despite treaty obligations, indigenous communities are never consulting regarding decisions to allow mining (likewise there is no consultation with local Maori here in Taranaki.
For me, one of the most interesting parts of the film was a commentary by an Alberta activist about the need to transition from “extractive economies” that only benefit a handful of people to “value added” economies that rely on a diversity of businesses. Here in New Zealand, the Green Party is calling for a transition from an extractive economy – based on dairy, oil and gas – to a value added economy based on a renewable energy and information technology.
The most concerning part of the film was at the end, where one of the anti-mining activists is elected mayor of Sept Iles and talks openly about the enormous pressure the oil and gas industry (and the banks that finance them) put on elected officials. When they don’t get their way, these economic powerhouses have the capacity to generate economic instability that can bankrupt a small community.