The fate of western economies is in the hands of politicians skilled at promising a veritable New Jerusalem of environmentally pristine high-tech employment. But amazingly, they can’t even throw money out the window, the one skill that they are fabled for possessing even as virtually all else that they touch wilts on contact. Consider that the Canadian government put aside billions of dollars to help oil workers grow kale or install solar panels or animate computer games or something over the past decade. And so far, in a glittering triumph of “deliverology” they have spent… um… net zero. A Department of Energy fund with $1.2 billion spread over five years still has $1.2 billion in it. A Department of Industry $267.1 million, three-year initiative still has $267.1 million. And a Department of Natural Resources one with $1.67 billion over eight years approved $969 million in projects and spent… bupkis. They call it a “whole of government” approach or something.
You can just imagine the amount of embarrassment on the part of those in charge. As in none at all. The ever-fatuous Minister of Natural Resources, formerly of Environment, a regular visitor to these pages, responded to a pointed question about actually doing something with the usual soothing verbiage: “That is something we intend to deliver early in the new year with respect to introduction of legislation.”
When we say “the usual” we mean it more literally than usual. As Blacklock’s Reporter noted tartly:
“The resources minister made a similar pledge on November 5, 2021. ‘It will be coming forward in the next couple of months,’ he said 13 months ago.”
It would not be fair to say that governments never achieve anything on this file. As the Canadian Environment Commissioner warned back in April, in a report somewhat puzzlingly entitled Just Transition To A Low Carbon Economy, various punitive federal climate policies were threatening to destroy at least 170,000 jobs. So there’s a good deal of destruction.
It’s just the good stuff they promise that never seems to arrive. And in some cases, not even to depart.
The skills necessary to succeed in politics are, alas, decoupled from those needed to succeed in government in ways that are almost unknown in other spheres of human endeavour. You become a plumber by being good at plumbing, you become a doctor by being good at medicine and you become a pianist by being good at playing tunes. But you achieve political power by being good at seeming to know stuff you don’t. And the punchline is, you don’t know it.