Author Timothy Findley Compares Oil Industry To Terrorists

(c) Mookio Chen, Flickr

(c) Mookio Chen, Flickr

You may think this is an odd article to post on a business blog… but I think it is the perfect place for it!

In my own businesses and throughout the Listen To Your Freedom biz-building program, I emphasize the holistic nature of business, soul, mind, body, earth, family, environment, food, etc. And so it is VERY important for those of us who understand that money is an energy, a symbol, and a flow, to speak loudly about holistic business practices. And for our own businesses to embody these principles.

And so, in this spirit, I want to publish this disturbing account of a speech made by famous author, Timothy Findley, to my hometown university, that subsequently disappeared from the Internet!

Indeed, when every nude photo exists forever in cyberspace, how exactly does one make anything disappear on the Internet??

Nevertheless, read on for this account, followed by the original speech, resurrected by DOCcupy and Decolonise:

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Timothy Findley’s last public speech (deleted from the internet)

“You don’t have to burn books now. You just have to press the delete key.”

Years ago, I was looking for this speech online. I knew I’d read it before and had had no problem finding it with google. The only hits I can find there now however simply refer to it and then they read like:

“Author compares oil industry to terrorists :
The mood of the audience was described by David MacInnis, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers: “People are angry: I mean, it was just appalling. Everyone’s just shocked that he could make such an analogy. … It’s incredibly insensitive to the victims of Sept. 11 and incredibly unfair to the oil and gas industry. We’re not environmental terrorists.” from the National Post.

Fortunately for us Yahoo found ONE measly hit from the Sierra Club (now gone). Just to re-cap it was the October after the September 11 attacks, Mr. Findley was at the University of Alberta speaking to a bunch of oil barons. He was there because he’s a great intellect, they were there because they paid for the building.

And the man had some credibility:
– Honored in 1996 with France’s highest award for artistic achievement, a Knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters.
– Author of 12 novels, 2 short story collections, 2 memoirs and 4 plays.
– One of Canada’s best-selling and most honoured authors.
– Won every major Canadian literary award.
– Was awarded the O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada) on December 23, – 1985 for his services to Canadian Literature.

He passed on a few months later, aged 72.

by Timothy Findley (R.I.P.)

October 4, 2001

Remember that disagreement over the price and availability of oil that Alberta had with the East, some years ago? Well… I’m one of the bastards who didn’t freeze in the dark… I had a wood stove. When it comes to survival, foresight is everything.
Mind you, believe it or not, I had a certain amount of sympathy for Alberta’s stance. Shortly before that East-West disagreement occurred, my friend Bill Whitehead and I were on a train heading from Toronto to Regina – Bill’s home town – and I started talking to a woman across the aisle. It turned out that she was from Alberta, heading home after visiting family in the East. When she found out I was from Toronto, she nodded and said something about two different worlds. This was my first visit to the prairies – my first sight of that magnificent horizon and that incredible sky – so I said: yes, but two beautiful worlds.

The woman looked out her window for a moment, watching the land roll by – and without turning, she said: not always. Then she turned to me and told me what it had been like, trying to survive the “dirty thirties” – the Depression, the drought and Bennett-buggies. And then she said: that was when we would send you a cow hide – and all you’d pay for it was 25 cents. Then you would send back a pair of shoes, and expect us to pay almost 5 dollars for them – and we couldn’t. And I began to understand more about the two different worlds – more than what was beautiful about them.

So… it’s been suggested, given such splendid surroundings, and such conservative company, that I avoid any subjects that could be seen as “sensitive”. Therefore, I have chosen to say a few words about a totally neutral topic: energy and the environment . . .
It has been revealed that the two Canadian provinces who contribute most to air pollution are …. Alberta and Ontario. That’s right – in one sense – I am as guilty as you when it comes to energy and the environment. And it’s quite true – our Ontario Premier has given new meaning to the word “harrisment”. In addition to all his other sins, Premier Harris has closed so many hospitals that cancer patients in Toronto now have to travel to Buffalo, New York, in order to receive treatment. Shameful!

Now, I understand that your Premier …. forgive me, I always have trouble with his name… oh, yes… he’s so much like so many right wing leaders today …Premier Clone… Well, I understand that Premier Clone sides with George W. on the subject of global warming and what to do about it. George W.’s reply to the “what to do about it” question was: absolutely nothing! He refused to sign the Kyoto Accord, because that, he said, would be bad for the U.S. economy. And darned if there wasn’t a faint echo of that statement coming from the northwest of the continent: if Canada agreed to the Kyoto terms, that would cost Alberta too much. I beg your pardon? Does that mean that the rest of the world can still freeze in the dark as long as Alberta stays rich? Or – as they used to say in England: screw you, Jack – I’m all right!

How long will it take before people who think that way wake up to the fact that it’s not the rest of the world that’s going to freeze in the dark – it’s the whole world!

Okay ….Okay….
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. When I sat down to think about what to say this afternoon, I told myself: make it positive, Tiff. For God’s sake, make it positive!
Hah! That ain’t easy. Not these days.
Maybe it’s not that terrorist hell awaits us all. Yet. But reality does. And, face it, some of reality is hell.
The French philosopher/playwright, Jean Paul Sartre, said in one of his plays: hell is other people. And he’s right.
But why? Why must it be that hell is other people? It’s simple.
There are other people who don’t want other people to survive. There are other people who don’t want other people to do what they prefer to do alone. There are other people who don’t want other people to “get there first” – or to point out that “it might not be worth getting there at all.” There are other people who don’t want what you have to offer, if what you have to offer competes with what they have to offer.

Let me give you an example.
We’re all too aware of what happened in the States on September 11. Well, in March and April of this year – 2001 – there was another event in the United States that can now happen anywhere – including here. It is not an event exclusive to America – or to American culture.

A young man, in his thirties – not a great deal younger than me – what’s forty years here or there? – a young man, whose profession is cartography, put a map on the Internet.
So? Did he claim the world is flat? The world is square? Of course not.
So – this map was not in any sense revolutionary.
In fact, it was so completely ordinary that it should have been destined simply to take its place in the mapping of a single site: the state of Alaska.
The young man, whose name is Ian Thomas, was an employee of the American government. He had delineated – with extraordinary exactness – the territory where Alaskan caribou go to calve each spring. That was his assignment. His job.
The designated area lies within the boundaries of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

No way.

George W. Bush had designated the area as the site of one of his major oil explorations. Forget the Wildlife Refuge.
Well – George W. Bush is the President of the United States.
And so, young Ian Thomas was fired – and the Alaska Caribou Calving Map was eradicated from the internet. Done. Over. Gone. Forever. It was now against the law to publish it.
As Ian Thomas himself put it: “you don’t have to burn books now. You just have to press the delete key.”

Why have I told you this? And why is it positive, as I believe it is.
I have told you because it is my own most fervent wish that such things should not happen. That some things should not exist -such as censorship and a refusal to look reality in its face and admit it is there.
Positive? Absolutely.
Do not let anyone – any organization – any political party, religion or corporation tell you who you are.
You are. We are. No one can define or classify you but your own integrity – a word increasingly losing its coinage in the modern lexicography of if’s, buts, maybe’s and not-unless-we-say-so’s.

Are we really prepared to let “them” press the delete button on the future? Well – it seems all too apparent that some of us are.

Now – there is a new world. And a new reality. John Allemang, a columnist published in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, wrote on the 12th of September, that the face of reality has changed forever. Nothing we experience from here on until the day we die can ever be imagined as we might have imagined it prior to those dreadful moments on September 11.

But I wonder if there are other acts of terrorism – and other kinds of terrorists, in this new reality, besides those who hijack planes and fly them into buildings.

Go back to the larger picture of the world – and of the future. Think of the consequences if the corporate world continues to rush headlong and heedless-of-danger into the continued exploitation of global gas and petroleum reserves. What’s already happening to the planet’s atmosphere is bad enough. What’s going to happen in the future, if we allow corporate profits to prevail above all other concerns? Talk about suicide bombers – and all the innocent others who die along with them. Think about that – and consider the future of our children, our country and our civilization. Just remember – all the multibillion dollar space exploration in the world ain’t gonna find us all another place to live. Only the privileged few – if any – will be offered that. And who will they be? The ones who did it here, first, will be allowed to go and do it there, too. Wherever there may be. Mars, Venus – the Moon? I think not. They’re already dead.

On the other hand, there’s always the sun – and I doubt that anyone can imagine a greater source of energy than that. And I wonder – who and how many – are preparing and submitting bids for the rights to sunlight. After all, the bargaining for our water is already underway.

The buying and selling of nature is at present creating a muted disaster – a wrecked environment obscured by the tasteful corporate logos that decorate its demise. What will we do when there’s nothing left?

We will die. But… who cares? No one – so it seems. And yet… And yet what?
What would Bob Edwards have said to that? Perhaps – that only those of us now alive can answer that – one by one by one.

Thank you.

[as of today there’s no hits on google, yahoo, or duckduckgo for “you don’t have to burn books now. You just have to press the delete key.” or this speech]

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Perhaps something will show up now, for others who are looking, now that I’ve published it here.

And hopefully my entire blog doesn’t just go POOF! and disappear.

By | 2015-11-09T23:41:28+00:00 November 9th, 2015|Holistic Biz|2 Comments

About the Author:

Jini Patel Thompson has been doing business online since 1995, when she launched one of the first dating websites on the Internet. Her online health store has been serving customers in over 60 different countries since 2002. Listen To Your Freedom is Jini's unique business-building program that will show you how to LAUNCH your own biz, or GROW your existing business - using fun, integrity and FLOW.


  1. Sharon Priest-Nagata November 10, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

    thank you for the re-post Jini. Point taken: how do you get something to disappear? On that note, I believe it was DOCcupy and Decolonize who also pointed out that links do degrade after a number of years, and that what we once thought was the way to preserve libraries and archives (and photos) is, in fact, unreliable. A lot of important information is going to end up on hard drives in warehouses somewhere…and then?

    • Jini Patel Thompson November 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Yes, and then the technology for the hard drives becomes obsolete… and then what? This is the big problem with digital storage; it is continuously being rendered obsolete and then almost no one can access the data anyway! And that’s within 20 years. Meanwhile, we have manuscripts and scrolls that are thousands of years old and we can still read them!

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