Since the Ukraine crisis erupted, the Prime Minister has jetted to Europe twice, and within Europe multiple times. Three weeks ago he did “If today is Tuesday this must be Riga.” It’s quite the carbon footprint for someone committed to making everyone else cut theirs. But of course what he’s doing is really important, unlike what you’re doing. Why, the press release informed us that “Prime Minister concludes successful visit to Belgium,” success apparently meaning only a few people denounced him for his handling of the trucker protests. (It’s a bit of a thing; the previous one said “Prime Minister concludes successful visit to Europe”). Trudeau is far from the only one who believes the virtue of his cause cancels his carbon hypocrisy: remember John Kerry’s aristocratic scorn when it was suggested that he travel steerage while saving the planet. Besides, Justin Trudeau isn’t paying for it himself so the carbon tax isn’t putting a dent in his lifestyle.
It might be objected, with reason, that what Mr. Trudeau is doing isn’t important. Not because the leader of a G7 nation dealing with a major security crisis, conferring with allies, signaling resolution and so on are not important but because our PM is doing them so badly that he’d be better off staying home. Nor do we mean merely that he could have given his speech by video link, especially considering how few European leaders showed up to listen. We mean the fact that his declarations of solidarity with the Ukraine ring even hollower than what we ordinarily expect from western leaders. As one Canadian security expert put it bluntly, “We have nothing to contribute because we have nothing else to give. There’s no other equipment, there’s no more soldiers we can send. There’s nothing.”
If Canada is going to become something other than a superpower at calling for more meetings we’re going to need military hardware, soldiers to use it and logistical support for those soldiers. But while the gender-neutral uniforms are apparently charging forward like the light green brigade, apparently with mysterious “Style A” and “Style B” versions, the planes, tanks, subs and so on are not. But in light of the fact that the $7.25 billion icebreakers we have ordered (up from $1.3 billion) that won’t show up before 2030 won’t actually be able to break ice when they do, meaning “they will only be able to operate in the Arctic between July and October,” perhaps PM Trudeau’s jet setting strategy makes sense after all, as a secret plan to accelerate global warming and melt the Arctic sea ice so the new ships can get through.
Or maybe the ships themselves will do it. Because it’s pretty clear that if we ever get this stuff, it’s going to require some pretty serious energy in the form of diesel. Likewise the newly-approved squadron of 88 fighter jets is going to need high-octane jet fuel.
After all, these things are nearly as important as the Prime Minister’s private jet. Whereas rubbish like heating your house and getting you to work and cooking food for your kid? Hah! That’s gone the way of a major Arctic maritime power being able to break ice and see who’s prowling around on their territory.