Wednesday, May 30, 2018

UPDATED: Call Him By His Real Name

I hope Justin Trudeau has a vivid imagination and total recall. That way, he can revisit the fall of 2015, depicted above, a time, you may remember, when he was exultant, having won his a majority government after posing as a man who was going to bring Canada into the 21st century. It was a time he fooled so many of us. With any luck, he will not do so again.

That the clown prince/neoliberal stooge's gambit in buying out the Trans Mountain pipeline is not going over well is evident on a number of fronts. Following are but a few illustrations of that fact:

Star letter writers offer this:
As an atmospheric physicist and an active climate-change researcher, I find the conduct of the Justin Trudeau government in this regard disgusting and appalling. If we are looking for a visionary leader who would lead us from a fossil-fuel-based (and environmentally destructive) economy to a sustainable and clean low-carbon economy in Canada, then Trudeau is not that person.

When Trudeau was elected, there was a sense of hope in doing our part as a nation to really start reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I have followed the United Nations’ COP meetings with a great deal of interest, and Canada promised achievable objectives in the Paris Agreement. These objectives do not seem achievable now.

Kaz Higuchi, environmental studies professor, York University, Toronto

I find it appalling that the government is using taxpayers’ money to benefit a corporation. This makes me realize how influential the corporations really are and how insignificant are the voices of Indigenous people and the thousands of others opposing this pipeline.

How can the government turn a blind eye to the harmful effects this pipeline may pose? Oil spills are an inevitable consequence.

I wish there were some mechanism to determine how I want my taxes used. I am definitely not paying them so a corporation can build an oil pipeline to endanger the environment of a province with some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country.

Sneha Singh, Mississauga

Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike captured a moment when the Canadian government was in the railroad- building business. Now, Ottawa has entered its pipeline era. Will, at some point, Berton’s book get a sequel, perhaps The Last Spill?

Ken Luckhardt, Etobicoke
Across the country, the sense of betrayal and incredulity at this asinine purchase was palpable:
“We are absolutely shocked and appalled that Canada is willingly investing taxpayers’ money in such a highly controversial fossil fuel expansion project,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in an emailed statement. “We will not stand down no matter who buys this ill-fated and exorbitantly priced pipeline.”

On Parliament Hill, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called the purchase “an historic blunder with taxpayer dollars,” citing a document from the National Energy Board that says Kinder Morgan bought the existing pipeline from its previous owner for $550 million in 2007 — a far cry from what the Texas company will get by selling it to Ottawa, she said.

She also accused Trudeau’s government of writing a “blank cheque” for the pipeline’s construction costs, which Kinder Morgan has previously pegged at $7.4 billion.

“It seems completely insane,” May said. “I’m quite certain that this will go down as an epic financial, economic boondoggle.”
Environmental groups were equally unimpressed:
The Council of Canadians, meanwhile, attacked Ottawa’s purchase as a “Big Oil bailout” that would not remove obstacles to the pipeline expansion. Greenpeace, in its own statement, said Trudeau’s government has “signed up to captain the Titanic of tar sands oil pipelines, putting it on a collision course with its commitments to Indigenous rights and the Paris climate agreement.”
Columnist Gary Mason calls it a Faustian bargain:
Environmentalists who once applauded Mr. Trudeau and his enthusiastic embrace of the Paris climate targets feel deceived. Celebrity crusader Naomi Klein promised the PM on Twitter his decision would “haunt him” everywhere he travels now. He was called a climate fraud by influential activist Bill McKibben.
But the immediate and long-term political fallout is only part of Trudeau's problem:
The government’s chance of finding a private investor to buy the project before the end of summer is unlikely. The threat of lengthy, potentially violent protests and the impact that had on creating a reliable construction timetable is one of the reasons Kinder Morgan wanted out. Any new investor is going to wait until Ottawa gets most of the dirty work done, gets the project built through the most contentious areas of B.C., before feeling comfortable enough to take it on.
Clearly, if the feds ultimately succeed, the only happy campers will be the investors who buy it back from the government.

Thomas Walkom points out a flaw in the plan few want to acknowledge:
... the real weakness in Ottawa’s nationalization scheme is economic. The Trans Mountain expansion was conceived at a time when petroleum prices were hitting record highs and before shale oil had become an important source of energy.

In those heady days, it made some economic sense to build a pipeline devoted to developing Alberta’s high-cost oil sands for export. Now it makes less sense.
What’s more, as Alberta’s Parkland Institute points out, the Trans Mountain expansion was conceived at a time when there were fewer pipelines bringing tar-sands oil to market. Since then, the Keystone XL pipeline, which is meant to take heavy oil from Alberta to Texas, has been approved.
Educating oneself about important issues is a key responsibility of all citizens in a healthy democracy. To abdicate that responsibility is to encourage reckless, irresponsible government policy and action. Today, we reap the results.

However, for those informed on the issues, to say that Trudeau's name is mud is perhaps to date myself. How about updating it to bitumen?

UPDATE: In The Guardian, Bill McKibben says the only thing differentiating Donald Trump and Trudeau on climate change is that the former is not a hypocrite about his disdain for the environment. Considering the latter's lofty rhetoric, the analysis fits:
Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.


  1. Well Trudeau has certainly restored Canada's reputation as a "climate pariah." I am pleased to read that Canadians from other provinces are also outraged at this.

    Now the dance begins. Protests, civil disobedience, police crackdowns, imprisonment, perhaps even violence from both sides. Trudeau may have lit a fuse he cannot put out. I've thought it through carefully for some time. If I were to hear of non-violent acts to sabotage the pipeline or its facilities and infrastructure I would do nothing to interfere.

    Yet where is the dissent from the Liberal rank and file, what I now disparagingly call Stepford Wife Liberals? Do they have children and grandchildren? Are they incapable of putting the country ahead of their party and its leadership?

    They make me pleased that I scraped the Liberal off my boots years ago.

    1. I have called and written to my own MP, Mound, with exactly the same questions. The emails were not answered, and an assistant at her constituency office heard me out and asked for my name and number. Needless to say, I did not get a callback.

      It would seen that the going rate for souls these days is pretty low.