While the Canadian government imposed our kinder, gentler modern version of martial law over a few rowdy anti-vaccine mandate protesters in Ottawa who stayed too long and broke some minor laws, a potentially murderous attack was carried out by environmental activists on a pipeline project, the Coastal GasLink work site near Houston B.C. Law enforcement is on the case but the Emergencies Act was not invoked, nor have banks been ordered to freeze accounts of donors to environmental groups, even ones like Extinction Rebellion and David Suzuki who have gone on record making approving noises about anti-pipeline violence. The Coastal GasLink project, to take natural gas from the B.C. interior to the coast for shipping to Asian markets, has long been the target of lawbreaking protests more serious than anything in the nation’s capital even before this latest assault with axes and arson. But in fairness the pipeline attackers didn’t set up bouncy castles which may explain why they face ordinary consequences while the trucker protests get the full pepper spray and de-banking treatment. Meanwhile the Trudeau administration is in the awkward position of having either to push the pipeline to completion or appear to be capitulating to genuine terrorism after losing its mind over an imaginary outbreak on Wellington Street.
The apparent determination of the current Canadian federal government both to sustain and exterminate the fossil fuel industry is infuriating to left and right alike. Another pipeline misadventure was its 2018 purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline after environmental protesters had brought the project to a halt. You can’t blame a committed climate alarmist for wondering what possessed Ottawa to purchase a pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast for $4.5 billion while promoting Net Zero. And the contradictions only deepen from there. The pipeline already operates and has long carried crude and refined oil to the coast. The project merely seeks to expand capacity to keep up with soaring demand in Vancouver. But now with the government in charge costs have soared and the project remains stalled. So the feds are turning off the tap on further subsidies. Perhaps the idea all along was to buy it and then go shucks folks it’s a dud and bury it. Or perhaps they just had no idea what they were doing and still don’t. Either way welcome to the green economy of the future.
It would be easy for us to jeer at the NDP press release which says “People across Canada are already living with the dire impacts of the climate emergency. They’re turning to the federal government for help in responding to the climate crisis. Instead of taking the bold actions needed to meet the urgency of the moment, the Liberals continue to bend over backwards to support big oil companies with fossil fuel subsidies.” And not just for the woke buzzword bingo that follows. For suggesting that Justin Trudeau is in the pocket of big oil. On the other hand, precisely because the last bit is such rubbish, and Trudeau actually agrees with them on climate and says it too, we sympathize with them wanting to know what’s wrong with his brain that he bought this pipeline.
It would also be easy to jeer at people who wonder why Trudeau is pushing for Net Zero while admitting that without such pipelines we would freeze in the dark. Though not without also jeering at Trudeau for being, essentially, a nitwit. Especially since the government’s press release announcing that no more subsidies would flow to the project bore the title “Reaffirms commitment to complete the pipeline project” and contains such bafflegab as “The federal government intends to launch a divestment process after the expansion project is further de-risked and after economic participation with Indigenous groups has progressed.”
If you think “de-risked” risks de-languaging us, we sympathize. Especially because the release also says the project consortium will “secure the funding necessary to complete the project with third-party financing, either in the public debt markets or with financial institutions.” So instead of more public money going into it, we’ll have… more public debt? Evidently our Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Finance, a famous public intellectual and author of the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else which she published in 2012 just before becoming a plutocrat and hobnobbing with the global super-rich, thinks having a state-owned entity borrow money is different from putting in public money.
Meanwhile the NDP press release fizzles out with “We’ll continue to urge the government to end all fossil fuel subsidies now and redirect those funds to low carbon initiatives that will create good jobs for Canadian workers.” They have no idea how much money actually goes to fossil fuel subsidies, though we would support getting rid of those and indeed all subsidies, and they have no idea what low carbon initiatives would create good jobs for Canadian workers or why, if they’re a dime a dozen, entrepreneurs rather than politicians and consultants aren’t their biggest fans.
Speaking of which, the race to be idiots continues here as elsewhere, with the new Conservatives For Clean Growth we lampooned last week tweeting “Conservatives need to focus our climate policy on what Canada, and Conservatives, do best – from developing and exporting clean fuels and minerals, to building the cars of the future.” As if anyone thought the Tory brand, or track record, was centred on “building the cars of the future”. And Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, when not tweeting that protesters should not break the law or intrude on people’s lives, retorted “Yet again, the Conservatives change positions on climate policy. I appreciate the efforts of Conservatives for Clean Growth to broach this conversation but the costs of climate change continue to mount & climate leadership is needed now. The world is quickly moving this way.” As if (a) CCG were an official party organ and (b) it makes any sense to welcome a conversation on policy but then declare there’s an emergency so we have no time to discuss policy. Not that this government would misuse rhetoric around a public emergency to shut off the possibility of debate.