The Canadian government is now struggling with the very real prospect that its various ataxic climate programs are going to devastate employment in the energy sector even while promoting a smooth transition to a more prosperous, high-tech and virtuous economy. Thus Blacklock’s Reporter reports of “Bill C-50 the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act” that: “Cabinet yesterday introduced a bill to promote ‘support for workers’ facing layoffs due to its climate program. Some 170,000 energy workers face unemployment, according to the Environment Commissioner.” But those in power still mistake destroying jobs for creating them; the story continues “‘Read the legislation,’ Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan told reporters. ‘What we’re talking about here is making sure workers aren’t left behind.’” By substituting fake economic activity for the real kind and paying for it with fake money. What could go wrong?
Well, lots of things. A new report from Canada’s Energy Regulator based on ludicrous assumptions whose findings explicitly “are not predictions about the future and nor are they policy recommendations” says our oil and gas production could start to decline within three years as the world turns toward Net Zero, which it’s not doing, or within six if we go it alone, which we’re not doing. But if our government persists in its delusions production could collapse anyway, because of policy decisions not market conditions. Causing massive unemployment and a collapse in living standards, for which the state will expect our obsequious thanks.
Even the metaphors ought to inspire caution. What many of these workers want is precisely to be “left behind”, that is, to continue living where they live and working where they work, instead of being bundled into an electric truck that doesn’t even function to be taken to some unknown destination they don’t even want to visit. And it gets more serious, because the whole idea is that having destroyed a lot of wealth-creating activity, government will then use the proceeds that don’t even proceed to subsidize a lot of unproductive inertia.
If there really were serried ranks of gleaming new jobs, workers would flood into them and tax revenue would flood into the Treasury, where it could then sit or be poured out somewhere else since these workers wouldn’t need support.
Cue the babbling:
“Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson yesterday said Bill C-50 will ‘change their lives’ in resource-based communities. ‘This bill is going to change their lives in the sense it is a bill that puts in place architecture to ensure that building a green economy and ensuring we are supporting workers along the way is front and centre for the government,’ said Wilkinson.”
A plan to have a plan for a plan. Again.
Wilkinson also told journalists:
“Canada is extraordinarily well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that will come through the transition to a low-carbon future ... We are advancing a plan for the future. We are not simply hoping for the best.”
Although his next step is apparently to get another level of government, which hates his climate plans, to sign onto them on the grounds that “At the end of the day, it is going to be those that are producing at very low carbon that are going to be winning in the context of the transition”. At the end of the day. Whereas we say, early in the morning, “How would you know?” Especially since he added “I think that there are opportunities to work constructively and collaboratively with Premier Smith” and even if one concedes that he knows more about politics than about economics, there is no sign that he and his colleagues have any idea how to work collaboratively with anyone they disagree with, least of all an Alberta premier.
As Lorne Gunter complained, the government in ringing in this bill completely ignored Smith’s stated concerns. And moreover “the legislation is nothing more than environmental evangelism. It is not based on real-world economics. It has no connection to what is possible and practical.”
Still, the serried ranks gleam in Wilkinson’s imagination. Bill C50:
“is not about shutting down Canada’s oil and gas industry, he said. ‘I can say that definitively,’ Wilkinson said in an interview after introducing the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act in the House of Commons…. but the fossil-fuel sector will only survive if it massively invests in technology to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from extracting and refining oil and gas. That will alone create new job opportunities that will require training and change. Add in the coming explosion in renewable energy, the demand for new electricity transmission and production and the desire for retrofits to buildings, and the job opportunities are huge, he said. The government says a clean-energy economy could create as many as 400,000 new jobs before the end of this decade alone.”
So why do you need to provide all this support, as 170,000 displaced workers pick and choose from these 400,000 new jobs? Um uh well see uh “This green industrial revolution that is theoretically talked about is reality,” according to his colleague O’Regan. The guy who keeps reminding everyone that “‘Just transition’ is a word that workers hate and my constituents don’t like and so I don’t like it either. We tried anyway within the bureaucracy and amongst ourselves to say the words ‘sustainable jobs.’”
And when you say it in the bureaucracy, can it fail to materialize in a memo?