“Downstream” - Movie Review

Review by Michael Smith

This movie, in my opinion, the trailer of which you will find embedded in this journal here, should, nay must, definitely be seen by everyone everywhere.

The exploitation Oil Sands of Canada, often also referred to as the Tar Sands, is a disgrace, and that is an understatement, and must be stopped now; not tomorrow or next week or next year. Now is the time to stop it for it is killing.

The development in that area of Canada is destroying the environment and is killing the people living there. The movie shows clearly the links between the Tar Sands and their exploitation to the ill health of the Native American population in that area and to the demise of the animals on which the Native Peoples relied for food and income. Fish, one of the main food sources of the Natives alongside the Athabasca River, are being contaminated with poisons that in turn are poisoning the people.

Forests have been destroyed and Canada, as a country, and Alberta as the province, are culpable here in all those happenings and this all in the pursuit of oil and independence, mostly for the USA, of oil imports from elsewhere but the American continent, and the continued use of the infernal combustion engine. For all this we are destroying the world and the health of its people.

The town of Fort Chipewyan alongside the Athabasca River has large clusters of cancers, mostly rather rare cancers, and questioning the fact as to why nearly cost a Doctor beloved by the local people his license to practice medicine in Canada. He was accused of spreading and causing undue alarm. What does the Alberta provincial government and Government Canada have to hide if they are willing to basically silence medical personnel?

The provincial government and the federal government of Canada did not like the fact that the Doctor called attention upon this situation and claim vehemently that the water is in no way being polluted by the exploitation of the Tar Sands and that everything is hunky dory.

This is, quite obviously, not the truth and it shows that Canada has only interests in exploiting the Oil Sand Deposits of bitumen, for that is what this is, and it is quite costly to produce crude from this, and all anti-pollution measures by some agencies, even Canadian provincial and federal agencies, are being blocked left, right and center, at those government levels.

The pursuit, as said, of oil, especially the way it is being done in the Alberta Tar Sands, is killing everything in that area. It is very akin to the Mountain Top Removal coal minim in the Appalachians, in the Eastern USA, and other sorts of mountain top removal mining.

Fish in the Athabasca River in the Ft Chipewyan area are contaminated with arsenic, mercury and other such substances that are extremely harmful to human and animal life and the consumption of such fish, prior to the people being aware of what was going on, has caused fatal diseases in the local Native American population and this is killing not only Elders but also young men and women; most who dies from extremely rare types of cancers, all of which are associated with such pollution. All the while the governments, provincial and federal, deny that this is so.

But should we really be surprise that such things could go on in Canada? I would say “hardly!”

For this is the same country that has also sold out to other multi-nationals in the name of profit and that allows Kimberley-Clarke to run rampant and to cause the wholesale destruction of old growth forests all over Canada, including, no doubt the forests removed from the Tar Sands, to make toilet paper.

All the time while I was watching the short 34 minute movie (a full-length feature is in works – hint, hint) I wanted to go to Canada to bang some heads together in the Alberta provincial government, as much as in the federal government of Canada.

Profits, yet again, are put before the health and wellbeing of the people and the planet. We, the People, must stand up and work to change this. Our governments are not benign; rather the opposite.

It can just be hoped that many people will watch this movie, and we must thank Babelgum for making it available through its streams on the Internet to such a larghe worldwide audoience, and that for free, and that they, the people, take the message home, so to speak, and act upon it. People and the Planet must come before industry and profit.

© M Smith (Veshengro, 2009
P.S. The movie can be found as a trailer in the pages of this journal and you can watch the full version on Babelgum.