It’s easy to say others should emit less carbon. But it’s harder to emit less yourself. So what kind of example is our green-friendly federal cabinet setting? Um, not so friendly. This month alone the Prime Minister has flown from Burnaby to Ottawa (June 1) to Vancouver (June 3) to London (June 5) to Deauville, France then Paris (June 6) to Ottawa (June 7) to Whitby via Toronto (unless he drove) (June 14) to Ottawa (June 15) to Toronto and back to Ottawa (June 17th) to Washington (June 19) to Ottawa (June 20) to Toronto (June 21) to Ottawa (June 22) to Toronto (June 23) to Montreal (June 24) and he’s off to Japan for the June 28-29 G20 meeting where he will “underline how countries, as part of their efforts to fight climate change, must make a clean economy affordable for everyone.” Other cabinet members were also leaving literal as well as rhetorical vapour trails. You on the other hand better stay home, carbon pig.
Et tu, McKenna? Indeed. Her ministry took time off from telling us not to stand out in the middle of a lightning storm (“Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors!”) to let us know the Environment Minister hopped up to Inuvik for an announcement/photo op on June 7, the day after Miriam Monsef was in Vancouver for a “Women Deliver 2019 Conference” featuring a handful of speakers and guests who likely did not get there by bicycle or kayak.
The same day the Finance Minister was in Fukuoka, Japan “to meet with his fellow G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors” to talk about “the Government of Canada’s investments in the middle class and people working hard to join it” which evidently can’t be done with a phone call. Mr. Morneau then flew to Calgary to say how much he and his colleagues value the fossil fuel industry as long as it helps “[transition] Canada to a low-carbon future.” And lest a day go by without a trans-ocean flight, Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification (yes, that’s a real job, or at least a real cabinet perk with extra pay and privileges) was in Japan on June 8 and 9 for the “G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy” having forgotten to give whatever he meant to say to Morneau to hand over to people who don’t have email so he couldn’t send a PDF of his deep thoughts.
It gets worse, and not only because Green Party leader Elizabeth May was in Sidney BC on June 21 for Indigenous People’s Day and in Toronto on June 23 for the Pride parade. It gets worse because our climate leaders also welcomed various international visitors who flew here instead of telling them no, no, stay home, we’ll call, you can email a PDF, let’s just teleconference. Including the UN’s “Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes” (yes, that’s one person, Baskut Tuncak) who came here to say our bigotry leads us to poison aboriginals. Likewise, our PM and Foreign Minister welcomed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Ottawa on June 17. And in early July the Foreign Minister is off to London England to host the two-day “Global Conference for Media Freedom” and hopes journalists as well as politicians and staff will wing their way over to join her. Meanwhile the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism blasted off for Halifax along with all Ministers Responsible for Culture and Heritage for a one-day meeting on June 19. And Bob Nault, who is not a cabinet minister but is President of ParlAmericas, was jetting down to Mexico for two days (June 18 and 19) to hobnob with dignitaries “from across the Americas and the Caribbean” on “Gender-inclusive sustainable economic growth” and related matters the same day the PM left for Washington.
Such blatant hypocrisy is generally, and we presume it is here, the result of confusion rather than conscious deceit. The Prime Minister’s decision to approve an oil pipeline the day after Parliament declared a climate emergency without a single member of his party voting No has certainly been seized on by his fellow alarmists to ask whether he has any idea what’s going on. He might. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”