The story of Canada’s decision to allow the return of repaired turbines to Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline seems to have gotten worse too, which is an accomplishment of sorts we suppose. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson did comparatively well, saying through their own stupidity and ours, our European friends had no choice but to get their natural gas from Russia… if any was to be had. Even though Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada had pleaded with us not to, telling the Commons foreign affairs committee “Since this step has obviously failed to bring the expected result, we asked you to revise this decision. The permit was stated to be revocable, and nobody wants the other five turbines to repeat the sad story of the current one.” But first prize for fatuity goes to our overwhelmed Foreign Affairs minister Melanie Joly. There are few things more pathetic than a weakling bragging about being tough. As the Canadian Press reported “‘We called his bluff,’ Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly told reporters in Montreal… ‘It is now clear that Putin is weaponizing energy flows to Europe.’” Rubbish. It was clear long ago that he was weaponizing energy, his claims on Ukraine were as hallucinatory as his assurances were worthless, and the time had come for action not bafflegab. Metternich is spinning in his grave.
For starters, turbine or no turbine, Russia has cut the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 to one-fifth of its capacity, to punish Europeans for supporting Ukraine. And anyone who is surprised is a fool. But what kind of fools are they?
The kind who so shamelessly substitute words for deeds that it has by now become an unconscious process. Thus Deputy PM, Finance Minister and factotum Chrystia Freeland recently burbled to reporters about plans to build LNG export facilities on our Atlantic coast that Canada has a “political responsibility” to help our European allies not freeze in the dark because Russia is turning off the natural gas taps. And then in precisely the tone Winston Churchillian did not strike at key moments she added “So yes, I think there is a role for the federal government, working with provincial governments, working with the private sector, working with our European allies, to make this happen.”
A role? What kind? The one where you build pipelines or at least let others do so? Or the kind where you engage in pious consultations while wrecking Canada’s existing energy industry instead of allowing it to expand? As the Toronto Sun editorialized tartly:
“The reality, however, is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate change policies are in conflict with Freeland’s goal of exporting Canada’s fossil fuel resources to Europe, or anywhere else, except for the United States…. While the feds have supported some oil and gas pipeline projects, the goal of the PM’s climate change policies is to keep more of our landlocked oil and natural gas resources in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the ground, not sell them to the world.”
It’s tempting to assume that those in power are smarter than they appear because of the obvious drawbacks of being governed by fools. But consider Blacklock’s Reporter’s account of a June 28 briefing note from her staff to Joly. It said “Canada has various tools such as exceptions and a permit and certificate process to mitigate against unintended consequences of sanctions”. Yes, by waiving them and pretending you didn’t. Then the note lapsed into revealing legalese-moralese: “Western sanctions are not responsible for the disruption of global trade, Russian aggression in Ukraine is” and “Canada is a strong supporter and friend of Germany and understands Germany has certain energy needs. Moreover Canada applauds its staunch efforts to reduce and eliminate its dependency on Russian oil and gas.”
See? It’s not that they think one thing, do another, and put a third into their talking points. It’s that what you see is what you get, including the sanctimonious mush. They talk the same way in private as in public, because it really is what they think, and how.
There are those, primarily in the semi-appeasement wing of our energy industry, who concede that they should be destroyed but propose that it not happen right away, and that the last barrel of oil extracted should be Canadian. But try getting our Prime Minister, Environment Minister or anyone else in that crowd even to concede that much. As with their new plan to deliver free dental care but they don’t know how, these people do not think in practical terms. They just don’t.
The situation in Europe is no joke. As Jesse Kline wrote in the National Post:
“It’s hard to worry about keeping warm when it’s 37 C out, but that’s exactly what the Germans are being forced to do as Russia continues to cut gas supplies to Europe, creating the prospect of severe shortages this winter. In Berlin, the lights illuminating 200 monuments and government buildings, including the presidential palace, are being switched off to save electricity. People in Hanover will no longer be able to take hot showers at gyms and pools. Residents and businesses are facing huge increases in their energy bills.”
Not all these impacts are similar in magnitude. But the serious ones are serious indeed; as Bloomberg News noted, while pointing out that “municipalities across the country are preparing heating havens to keep people safe from the cold” which reminds us what climate conditions are really dangerous, German vice chancellor and economy minister Robert Habeck said “The challenges we’re facing are enormous and they affect significant areas of the economy and society,” which was fairly obvious since the remarks accompanied “a plan to pass on cost increases from energy companies to consumers” as if, ultimately, anyone else could possibly pay them.
As Kline continued:
“Not since the aftermath of 9/11 has energy security been top of mind in so many countries, which, as the world’s fourth-largest producer of natural gas, offers a historic opportunity for Canada. But in order to capitalize on the current crisis and work toward a scenario in which dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin will no longer be able to blackmail western countries by threatening to cut off energy supplies, Canada will need to fast-track the development of natural gas pipelines, LNG export terminals and other infrastructure. And in order for that to happen, the Liberals will need to settle the tension within their party between pragmatism and environmental idealism.”
As if such tension still exists. After attempting to keep the feeble flame of optimism alight, Kline concluded:
“The federal government… would need to get the ball rolling by showing that it will no longer stand in the way of Canadian energy projects. Unfortunately, despite strong comments by Freeland and Joly this week over the role Canada should play in Europe’s energy security, the actions taken by the Trudeau Liberals recently show that it’s business as usual around the cabinet table.”
And business as usual includes avoiding hard realities so consistently that eventually you lose the capacity to grasp them at all. Speaking of make-believe, Wilkinson also tried to justify returning the turbine so Putin can blatantly not deliver gas until Europeans kowtow by saying “you need to be able to explain to the Germans and the French and the Italians how they’re going to survive the winter.” To which we reply “Turn back on your nuclear plants and start fracking, you nitwits”. As for Wilkinson’s explanation that “The bottom line is that the flows that could be expected to move to Germany through the pipelines that run from Russia via Ukraine would be significantly lower than what Nord Stream” could deliver, as he told a parliamentary committee in attempting to justify the turbine return, if he doesn’t know that what Nord Stream could deliver and what it’s going to deliver are different, and that Putin is using the difference to twist our allies’ arms with our inane connivance, then he needs to find a new job. An easier one.