Amplifying and Disciplining the Discourse of Resource Nationalism in Canada’s Tar Sands: The Role of Carbon Corporate Networks in Popularizing Far Right Ecologies

Authors: Kevin McCartney*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Canada
Keywords: Far right ecologies, carbon corporate power, resource nationalism, Canada
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Canada has been called a first world petro-state (Adkin 2016; Nikiforuk 2008) at the level of policy, regulation and governance, but the discourse of resource nationalism is deeply contested and regional. In the heavy oil communities of the province of Alberta, resource nationalism involves a familiar and long-standing set of material cultural artefacts of extractive domination, from pick-up trucks to pipelines, along with narrative tropes of anti-federalism, Albertan exceptionalism, and rugged individualism. Since 2015, though, this discourse has radicalized. White, male, and settler supremacy has emerged as a coherent and popular political movement materially and spatially intertwined with Alberta’s extractive industries. This shift aligns with global trends toward far-right populisms, but must be understood in relation to networks of carbon corporate power working to invent, amplify, and (increasingly) discipline resource nationalism as an ideology in defence of industry profits.

This paper uses the case study of an anti-immigrant, pro-pipeline social movement called United We Roll to examine the confluence of nationalism, corporatism, and racism within Canada’s radicalized resource nationalist discourse, laying the groundwork for a move from extractive populism (Gunster et al. 2018) to petro-fascism. While mainstream Canadian political actors accommodated and legitimated the crowd-funded truck convoy from Red Deer to Ottawa, corporate media is revealed as an organizing body for the movement, serving to align a far-right ecology with legitimated discursive strategy.

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