Wednesday, November 2, 2016

puppets edmonton

"that's a good dog. look the door is opened" "i'm taking a few out, show it to you..." "i think the guy that made these signs was inspired by zombie movies" "i'm a candidate for the city hall. vote for me, i can make things better" "your children, our country, our planet. vote jim rogers" it's at the border customs that it all started, in february 2011 my family and i had just left france for canada upon arriving, the border patrol told my son "you're a chatty one" 8 months later, our new country became the first to withdraw from the kyoto protocol for reducing greenhouse gases

the reason wasn't environmental, but economic: a mushroom city to the north of alberta, rich with billions of oil barrels, fort mcmurray, canada's mining treasure... a corner of the end of the world, that spoke about the whole world money had spoken, and thus fort mcmoney, as it is called here, became our home for 3 investigating years to which extent can democracy bend in front of money, and in front of oil? these 3 years would be talking, and digging an obsession can democracy disolve within oil? my cameraman, philippe, had noticed an rv camp at the city entrance at first glance, we knew this place would become our best spot

a sub-world full of marvels, patched-up rvs and brand new models... full of success stories and broken dreams "hey how are you? ready for work?" "where you heading to? earl" the first one to speak to us was markisa, freshly arrived fro vancouver a month earlier "with a nice snow storm! indeed" fort mcmurray is the city where you can most easily make money in north america so i came to better my chances, make money, and create new work opportunities at first i wanted to work in the oil sector... clean around workers' camps

working for suncore or simcrude would have been the best, but it's very hard to get a job with them a lot of the working camps, unfortunately, employ a lot of immigrants because they pay immigrants a lot less i just started working with the ford herb chambers it's the most profitable one in north america i just heard so many stories about fort mcmurray that there were only men, that they were pigs, and all that and then i saw that indeed there were a lot of men dominated sectors but there are also many opportunities for women

it's good to be a woman here i don't like the fort mcmurray is 5 hours from edmonton all on a very very crazy highway so i think people get the feeling they are stuck here they say it's a mushroom city but who knows... if the oil price was to drop... maybe no one would come up to live here from my trip i made a documentary. hundreds thousands people had taken control of the city i had to conclude, trying to understand what impact the city had left on me and understand how much we all are ready to pay for our dependency on oil

hey jim hey, awesome hey buster, remember david? hey, go see philippe glad to see you again so that's the documentary you have reached the edge of the world, where the road stops fort mcmurray, a territory as big as florida, bigger than hungary the largest industrial field in the world the world's third oil reserve

an unconventional oil, expensive, hard to extract, and in high demand amongst oil's giants the tar sands. you are embarking in a docuentary game where everything is real i'm so excited and eager like a wild man seeing a mirror for the first time i know this guy. that's me, there i am yeah i'm also a trapper i can see god coming here and asking "what the hell did you do" "with all of the wealth with all that i gave you is this all you can do?" you bunch of morons i'll throw you in the fire

that's all you jim. but that's the truth though that's the truth, the real truth excellent i was born here my father was in the army when i was little he promised one day the tar sands would be like the canadian ruhr valley the future of canada is impressive when the site started to develop, everyone was overjoyed we thought, finally the world's energy will come from our tar sands, we'll all be rich i was a trapper here for about 10 years

i'm not in the business any longer but in my last 25 years i have been fighting for the environment and i defend these properties in which i have investments you see, deers came to eat here. they walk around here at night behind this hill, underground, there's about 50m of tar sands and on top are the pebbles left by the glaciers i think mostly the oil giants were allowed to build these sites by the government... which gives away the resources because of this mentality of oil rush

all of a sudden so much money was circulating and people had occasions to get money in their hands they're buying great big homes on top of the oil fields built in cheap materials but they can cost up to 700 or 900 thousand dollars because you must always see big in fort mcmurray. everything must be crazy and beautiful big brand new cars, huge homes their daily expenses are so great that whenever oil prices drop they can't afford them and they go see the bank that already lent them money they come here and start to live like gold rush millionaires

they have no choice but to become slaves to the oil industry and in return the oil industry treats them like beggars we first met jim rogers 3 years ago, in one of these many meetings trying to understand how institutions managed to somehow control a situation that overwhelmed them in town, many thought jim was a gentle dummy. a simple trapper but jim rogers had the mad man's lucidity, and it made him a friend he was like the town, all show one night he suggested we go to the city hall, he promised we'd have fun and that i'd learn a lot about the small town's management

at the head of this male town, a woman had held a key role for years the city mayor, melissa blake before becoming mayor, i worked for simcrude my husband has been working for suncore for almost 20 years now i invite those willing to pray with us before this christmas meeting, this is tonight's prayer jesus's birth is peace's greatest gift may we, those elected to wood buffalo town hall... keep on working together in this same spirit of peace, amen

i declare this session open the first one to speak was this man, an oil industry lobbyist each word weighed a billion dollar on the town he was allowed 5 minutes but received 20 and the town's officials respect my name is ken chapman, president of the development group for tar sands our field pays 90% of the area's taxes and in this situation, the council must understand the stakes ahead of the industry we wonder if the previsional income take into account the oil prices changes

if not, taxes will increase. presure on us is mounting consequence of the constant drop in oil prices access to market keeps getting harder and north american competition is huge so we need the city council to reduce taxes on companies for 2013 thanks for your intervention of course our region relies on the tar sands i know that this council has always tried to keep close to the tar sands industry's needs i understand your point of view but i won't modify our present objectives can i answer, ms mayor?

yes, but please do not raise a debate you are asking for no debate? i would ask that you study the budget and timing of these objectives and that you make a decision that goes in our direction we try to meet you half way so that our numbers and objectives can match we want fiscal income to be based on a concurrentuial basis, that's all good, no debate since i feel the same way. thank you. thank you let's proceed to the vote in light of these information some say the oil industry damages democracy yes but, they're wrong

it's those who believe we are an oil state that say these things the industry does influence the government because we are a big part of the economy but we are also very influenced by the government, as it is a greatly regulated business we get permits from the environment, land owners, and environmental associations we have legal permits to do ou job we have an authorization from society and the owners an exploitation permit, although the necessary permits don't stop there we must honor the social dimension of these permits

in the end, who has control? the owners when alberta's residents will behave as such, they will have full control we are far from being an oil state does someone want to speak on today's topic in front of the council? -yes. -sir would you mind introducing yourself? i hardly know you there's a little trick with the engineers' findings they'll never tell you we're 100% sure maybe you shouldn't start building a road when we're not 100% sure but some engineers are building their careers on theories

and these are our financial resources -mr rogers, you know what i'm about to ask you. -yes which part of today's topic do you wish to address? in fact i... reactions to previous statements are not allowed -i see -sorry that's alright, i can adapt my intervention i'm sure you can thank you mr rogers. add it to the minutes

please stay for the qa. mr counselor? who controls fort mcmurray? how do you mean? it's me, me and my council melisa blake would become a key character in this game i met her everywhere, always smiling and willing thank you lord for this wonderful mayor give her strength, vision and courage to take our community to great heights thank you lord for all these people who make this community such a wonderful place, amen in a way, mayor blake was the exact opposite of mr rogers

both proud to live here, but with different visions she, so contained, him so full of showmanship her perfection and his chaos it's like our civilization had to choose between the trapper and the mayor economic pragmatism vs political utopia oil versus transparency, capitalism versus nature one thing is sure, democracy was sick in this place here the voter turnout is extremely low, the lowest in the country it's a population with many newly settled, who don't know the candidates very well

and people work such long hours on the sites their difficulties in going out to vote are getting real all in town has the name and the smell of oil fort mcmoney told the century's story, every hour of every day hi everyone, and welcome to the inauguration of the fitness center j-m gires, president of total canada, is with us today where? to where? -this way i think it's once again a great honor to thank total as to this establishment, its utility and necessity are doubtless

ready? i'm happy to participate in the 2nd inauguration of this total fitness center i'll surely talk about fort mcmurray a lot when i return to europe, thank you for your support the official discourse is broken, but as long as people were happy with it, it looked fine but poking around, imagining it would come to an end, between abandon and desolation asking to see an oil mine, asking for transparency, it sounded rude you looked like a bad payer why is it so hard to visit a total site? -i don't get your question -we asked to visit a total site and couldn't, nor any other company's

like suncor, etc... why is it so hard? i'm not sure, did you ask anyone before me? good evening everyone, what a wonderful start to the holiday season! i've been mayor for 8 years, and it's the first time i have a magic wand 1, 2, 3, go this parade is like the town, careless and proud, noisy and insane, generous, and sold to the industry it is typical of oil states, full of money, showered with private subsidies, and politely indifferent to public matter here comes santa merry christmas fort mcmurray, merry christmas

merry christmas! democracy, oil, it is as if they fit perfectly fort mcmurray's sky was blue welcome to showgirls, fort mcmurray's gentlemen's club let's start with the beautiful gisabelle if one place was getting the city's wealth, it was here showgirls was the epicenter of an oil rush that shows its true face, with no manners and polish the boss held high his pride of living here, with his french name, mr quevillon everyone here lives without counting, drinks without limits, gambles without limits

you know, spend their money. god bless them for that you got one, 10 points millions of dollars circulate, so many contracts are signed here i'd bet my salary on that ready gus? i'm karl van dough, i collect bottles and cans. you could say i'm a beggar i pay about 1,400$ a month for this spot, must be the most expensive trailer park in canada how you doing? -fine -that's my great buddy kostard he drinks and he smokes, but he never cusses, that would be me. over there!

there... what a nice music i used to sell fruits and vegetables before being an alcoholic now i collect cans, it's quite lucrative. one year i made 52,000 only 10 or 15 cents stuff. and there are taxes too at the beginning of the month it's hard, we're paying the bills at the end of the month too, we pay car expenses the middle of the month is better, they drink more 25 cents i met kostard giving him gloves. he would always lose his

he had socks on his hands. i said, i'll ask god, he was always good to us, i'll ask for gloves so we delved in one dumpster and found no gloves we sat down for a beer when a guy shouted from the 2nd floor "guys, want these gloves? they're new!" then he gave us 20$ each. you can't say god doesn't exist, he likes fort mcmurray's homeless i'll never starve here, not in fort mcmurray we keep the city clean, don't bother anyone people are nice here soon there'll be a full moon eh one evening during a charity gala, when the city tried to look like dallas, one woman caught my eyes

she was the director of fort mcmurray's food bank what she had to say went beyond the oil town. she betrayed this world, more and more unequal our biggest fundraiser takes place once a year, all oil companies take part in it syncrude, suncor, cnrl, nexxon imperial, shell... they all contribute for some, the oil industy has increased their salary so much, but also their rents and now they cannot pay because they no longer work in that industry but i would say the oil industry know what it is causing

so it is financing the necessary services it's capitalism right? i mean, it's a democratic world it was a perfect trick, a semantic slip that said it all fort mcmurray is a symbol of our time, where democracy equals capitalism which, triumphant, does what it pleases alone, or almost, jim was resisting in his own way, countering politics on their field the trapper ran for city office shortly before my last trip 10% voted for him -you want to be mayor? -well, let me tell you, if i was running the show

things would be very different, because i add to the debate i bring illumination to dark corners to all unspoken things that should have been said the giants of the industry and their apologists are the architects of this incredibly corrupt system that allows them all to be employed and make decisions they all determine the situation and run the show, and we are the ones paying pay to be brainwashed, filled with illusions, and then robbed it's a bit of a sad democracy that we have it's maybe a mix of demonic and mockery

demon-cry or de-mockracy and why don't people turn out to vote here? it's not interesting for them, and even if one talks of voting for me... or has a badge saying "i vote jim rogers", they can lose their job and without a job you can no longer pay for the life here, you just have to get away fast show me a badge - i'm gonna bring it to you don't move- it's alright just a second i didn't think i'd be doing it today

just hang on there alright, now make a speech i'm prepared to manage the city better than the current government your speech is really bad hey, slowly i was thinking if there is too much light we could put my flag on there proud to be albertan

to witness the measure of this frenzy, you have to escape the town, and follow the buses everywhere, the "invisibles". they are the ghost population 40,000 workers from all around the world that come and go on from private planes day and night, summer and winter these men were both rich and exhausted. after a night in a working cap, we understood this ghost population is the price the industry is ready to pay in order to reign these men without attaches did not care about this white land they dug into this land wasn't theirs, who could blame them they didn't vote, didn't get involved, that was the arrangement

rolling towards the north of the mines, to fort chippawan, rogers had promised an unforgettable trip driving the icy road leading to the village had become my holy grail going north, towards the cold, the delta, and the tabasca river the frozen and polluted river, several minutes crossing the water, the ice, and fear in the past few years, alarming rates of rare cancers were detected and the independent studies that were requested never arrived once there, we too refuge in this coffee shop held by kim, a chinese lady her jukebox playing old songs... the only client asked us to dance, she was the sister of the village's chief

whom i was supposed to meet, allan adam they talk of development, for us it is destruction i got mixed feeling about what is going on. they call us local terrorists we call ourselves nature's defenders, we fight to protect the interests of the community we're not entirely against development but we can't completely support it. if they can't clean up their mess... we won't give our approval for them to go build another one when they threaten the people of the community by saying if you go on, we cut off your jobs, or destroy the economy of your community or your nation

that is the price to pay for giving our opinion about their actions i think both the federal and provincial governments... are oil industry's puppets in this area because they say what the field asks them to say i'm quite old, 70. i can smell syncrude and suncor even the sky's color becomes strange when the pollution is coming they don't protect our water, nothing. they're only here to take money, take take take and give nothing in return, it's sad in this nation, wise men know what is bound to happen, the spirits warn us

they say kaya, it means "don't do that" these are two fish of the same specie, pikes this one has a normal shape but that one has a disformed head i fished for 55 years i the atabasca lake and i had never seen a fish like this someone told us that the industries gave a lot of money to the people here some of them yes. they come, buy a few animals and organize dinners with some villagers ad then give 300$. they're paying us so we'll be quiet

but don't do that, industry people, do what we ask, don't pollute there's something in the water. the industry has been dumping their wastes i it for 40 years but nobody seems to want to listen when we say they are destroying this delta - can i shake your hand?- of course - to say thank you- oh sure, anytime on the way back i wanted just one thing, see rogers again and hear his laughter but the road was long, christmas near, i remembered my talk with alberta's environments secretary - the oil industry manages the co2- they have to give us clear numbers, yes but how can we be sure they give the right numbers?

well they have to draft the reports, which are then validated by the ministry i can give you these documents if you want to see them they're public and available, i can share it with you but why don't you check the co2 levels yourself? so they give us the reports and we have procedures and ways to validate their claims that's how it works in alberta, they issue reports, and our services check whether they are conform and then makes sure that the numbers are correct - thank you- thank you very much in the end, secretary mcqueen told me to see our meeting as a christmas gift

i never knew what she meant, if it was a gift or she regretted it but one thing was sure, it was all legal and legitimate. and that was the problem it was a book that first made me doubt mr nikiforuk dedicated his life to the oil industry he welcomed us one morning, and wanted to give details oil is really a curse for a country it raises so much money, and then so many moral issues that the country will necessarily change and will experience disfunctioning

so when a democracy finds oil what was concluded by political analysts with time was that oil corrupts every institution just by the size of this industry, the power of the dollar and the revenue and also by the fact that powers will become more concentrated with time so the democratic institutions become less accountable voter turnout declines because people don't pay taxes and we witness the erosion of democratic institutions canada still hasn't held a national debate on the pace and scale of this project

and it's partly because we are resource developers. we're a mining people, that's how it is we dig holes in the ground, extract resources, but we don't create added value, we just export over the world in order to have a debate about the tar sands, we need a debate on the canadian character who are we as a people, what do we do and what do we do it for? and we're afraid of asking these questions in fort mcmurray's airport, i would sometimes see a man coming and going more often than me i liked his name, travis davies, which echoed, and his honesty, which was refreshing he was the spokesperson for the canadian oil giants some say the oil industry is stopping democracy

well, seen that the petochemical industry promotes education... pays for the rubber in your shoes... extends our lifespan and improves our lifestyles i would say it is beneficial for democracy when more people with higher degrees make informed decision, it's good for democracy the lobbyist said it all, oil giants were running the world they looked like these ravens, which jim was feeding, and which were everywhere in the area they ate the town, like the industry ate the ground what if their dance was our own?

year after year i became fed up with that town it was my bad conscience, as a polluter suddely, to our left, a shape and then i loved the town again karl? hey, come on in, come on in! thanks, you're welcome. which one? this one take that to him, there's no milk. ok - it was a big surprise, running into you- yes, i go on. i should find a job but... i don't know, i'm on a one way road

so you didn't see our documentary? no i didn't oh yeah im' diving in don't tell anyone where we are eh gus? no one must come look at this picture it's nice. poor gus he needed help, couldn't manage by himself he didn't listen to me and he was found in his place, frozen to death

he was a burden on society, was cremated they didn't even send the ashes to his home in british columbia his sister wanted them - do you want the picture?- yes, definitely. - i'll make a double i have others but not... he didn't like to be photographed for that one he had said yes, and really it looks good the 3 years journey was coming to an end, when th unthinkable happened after insisting, one company finally accepted to open one of their mines after all, the lands they rent belong to the crown, therefore to the people

there was a minimum of transparency required, or at least we all pretended there was i'm the communication expert for shell be welcomed here today on the way, the company representative was speaking of trophies these visits usually saved for the lobbyists and ceos of these companies last year we organized 38 visits the year before about 40 mostly political representatives, mps national oil industries, or our own employees

they want to come and see, and we want them to work here we have good relationships with governments we have an office in washington dc and, you know, yeah we're gonna stop, here is good there was a dynamite operation we have a filming crew, from the outside so you should tell me when you dynamite ok - not nice to see- no

excuse me, you shouldn't film that i don't want you to film there. you can film the rest, all the way over there but these are our neighbors ok? they're our neihbors across the way we just used dynamite inside, to liquify the inside and fasten production i's unusual, they don't do it often. it's the first time i hear about it or see it but i don't know if we can film that, i didn't know they'd do it today or else i would have asked at the camera, philippe had complied and i didn't discuss this smiling censorship was the perfect counterpoint to the efforts of the town's politicians and lobbyists

devastation, like the moon the democratic fable was held in this sulfur cloud, floating in the documentary game, in the end, the conclusion is identified without a doubt the voters would massively stand against the oil industry, and fort mcmurray become a ghost town at our last handshake, i asked him what he thought about all that for the first time, he took time to answer, as if to underplay the future i'm fearing that this may be their plan, to take from our resources to move as many people as possible away from here, to leave a pipeline... and leave just a small team for the operations of underground injections

put canada's riches in this pipeline and take it away globalization dictates the changes in a town, into a mushroom city or a ghost town there's not much wealth here except maybe in the pockets of these oil producers and those who work for them jim was probably right, that was the plan. digging a hole, and going away nobody knew how or when. as often, amnesia would do its job and in the meantime, oil industries had won, with our complacency at this moment, it was as if only a facade and ruins remained of democracy

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