Saturday, June 2, 2018

Justin Trudeau: A Reality Check

While Canadians are rightfully applauding the retaliatory tariffs the Trudeau government will be imposing on the United States, my concern is that distraction will diminish the outrage that same government's nationalization of the Kinder Morgan pipeline has engendered. Far too many people, it seems, are incapable or unwilling to hold two conflicting opinions simultaneously, our preference for absolutist thinking often winning out.

Solid journalism and astute letter-writers, it is hoped, will keep the climate-change betrayal of Justin Trudeau in the public's eye and mind.

Today's Star does its best on several fronts. Here is what a Millenial has to say:
After the crippling rage and ensuing cynicism I’ve harboured since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s callous electoral reform betrayal last year, I didn’t feel anything at all when I found out he was buying a $4.5-billion pipeline.

How silly of me to think that, in 2019, I would finally be able to vote for someone who would take our carbon budget seriously, and have it actually count toward something other than a tally of the other conscious voters who also wasted their ballot.

When Trudeau went to Paris, he made a major commitment to the rest of the world on our behalf. It was a commitment that his Liberals evidently had no intention of keeping (much like electoral reform), as he preached sanctimoniously to other countries of its critical imperative. Trudeau has made self-righteous liars out of all of us, and many don’t seem to care.

How silly of me to think that Canadians would eventually be embarrassed by the global community’s disapproval of our myopic selfishness, as we refuse to even stop growing our oil industry, let alone phase it out.

I am 34 and live in Toronto. A large portion of my meagre paycheque is depleted by riding expensive public transit, buying expensive vegan groceries and renting a tiny, overpriced apartment. But I don’t mind forking over the money because I feel like I am doing my part to help tackle climate change. After all, our governments are busy subsidizing more important things with their share of my cheque, I’m told. How silly of me.

Once a year, I try to take a camping trip to get away from the grind and pretend that I am living in harmony with nature for a few days. This month, I’ll bring my tent to Burnaby Mountain, along with some hard-earned cash that I have set aside to help pay the salaries of those who will arrest and fine me when I get there. At least I can say I helped create jobs, right?

Alykhan Pabani, Toronto
Other writers express similar cynicism and disappointment about a man who promised so much and delivered so little:
Your pro-pipeline editorial states: “To be clear: The new pipeline should be built, or more precisely, expanded.”

I am at a loss as to why the Star would make such a statement when this particular investment in, and expansion of, the Trans Mountain pipeline flies in the face of the Justin Trudeau government’s platform to help Canada (and the world) transition to more of a green-energy economy.

When we expand our investment in fossil fuels by a massive amount, we are obviously moving Canada away from transitioning toward a green economy. Canada has already generously supported the oil industry in a multitude of ways through enormous subsidies, etc. By expanding pipelines and thus promoting the expanded use of fossil fuels, instead of shrinking our dependence on oil, we perpetuate the status quo, which has our planet sitting at the verge of collapse.

If our federal government intended to expand its investment in green technologies and help us transition to a more environmentally feasible energy base, it would not have blown the bank to support this pipeline. Where will the money come from to support green industries and initiatives?

When the sustainability of our planet and our children’s future is at stake, Trudeau’s boldest move should have taken a completely different direction. I am so disappointed.

Fran Bazos, Newmarket

It is no surprise that a deal has been made for a pipeline to transport fossil fuels for financial gain. It seems there is no political party standing the slightest chance of forming a federal government that is prepared to turn its back on the enormous wealth buried below Alberta soil — no one prepared to leave the pristine boreal forests in the ground where they belong.

The resulting toxicity to the land in which we live and breathe, native land rights and the increased world dependence on non-renewable energy sources seem to have no influence on the decision-making process. It’s big business that dictates decisions and the policymakers will ride roughshod over anyone who gets in the way.

Timothy Phillips, Toronto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has obviously forgotten, or disregarded, what most scientists have preached repeatedly, that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is essential if we are to save our planet. He is planning to ship our dirty oilsands to be burned in Asia, and then claim that Canada is adhering to our commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Ethical?

Ross McCallum, Toronto
Finally, Jennifer Wells offers a history lesson on Kinder Morgan and draws this conclusion:
As for history, what it shows is there was a time and place for pipeline talk. The prime minister is gambling on the merits of using the expansion as a bridge to a climate-conscious future. That might have worked decades ago. Today it leaves the young PM sounding very ’80s


  1. Yes Prince Charming should be congratulated for retaliatory tariffs, because they will bring more tariffs and tariffs create jobs and prosperity.

    How do I know? Because free-trade has accomplished the exact opposite.

    It's simple logic. Before free trade we had decades of unprecedented prosperity and human development. During free trade, a downward spiral filled with crisis after crisis predicated on fraud, corruption and disaster capitalism.

    So imagine setting yourself on fire and it hurts. Ergo, stop setting yourself on fire and it will stop hurting.

    Just say 'no' to flaky far-right economic ideology! Robber Barons DO NOT have your best interest in mind. The first step is admitting you have a problem!

    1. Certainly, there has been much debate about the effects of free trade over the years, Anon. While I readily admit to having only a limited knowledge of its nuances, it seems to me that the rush to export jobs to lower-paying jurisdictions accelerated after we entered into the original free trade agreement with the U.S., and got even worse once Mexico became a player under NAFTA.

      Compounding this, of course, was the rise of neoliberalism in the 80's, led by those 'sterling' and much-revered icons of the right, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

  2. Like it or not, next year will still be Justin Trudeau or Andrew Scheer and, when the dust settles, Canada will still be a committed petro-state. There are plenty of Canadians who are fine with that so long as they don't take any sort of hit in their perceived standard of living.

    I find it telling that we're still wrestling with man-made global warming as a distinct problem, something that can be dealt with in isolation to the other looming existential threats - the broken hydrological cycle, ocean acidification, overpopulation, over-consumption.

    We never present a clear picture of just what is underway and how it imperils our country's future. If we can't muster the courage and resolve to address this one aspect of our predicament, the one that should be easiest to resolve by decarbonizing our economy, what do we have in mind as the rest threaten to overtake us?

    I read a report yesterday on how scientists are having trouble monitoring the methane problem in the Arctic. It seems the sensors they use can't handle Arctic weather conditions. I seem to recall that NASA recently launched a satellite that's purpose-built to observe methane plumes around the world. That should tell us what we're up against from this natural, positive feedback loop, the harbinger of runaway global warming.

    It's curious how these fossil fuel compromises always support fossil energy initiatives now with the promised reward, some vague "don't worry, be happy" assurance, in the future, eventually, perhaps, maybe.

    Trudeau Canada isn't on track to even meet Harper Canada's emissions reductions targets. The best Trudeau can come up with are Rachel Notley's promises and they'll be scuttled in an afternoon when Jason Kenney sweeps her from office next year.

    1. It is hard to retain even a small measure of optimism, Mound, either about the fate of our world or the integrity of our politicians. The problem of climate change, if dealt with in isolation (and I know the concomitant urgent problems cannot be ignored) and given the sense of urgency it demands, could be solved. However, that would require nothing short of a wartime resolve and mobilization, something that no politician has either the integrity or the courage to do. And so we move steadily toward the abyss, with eyes wide shut.

  3. It seems, Lorne, that some things never change.

    1. It would be nice, wouldn't it, Owen, to spend our senior years in contentment? The fates, however, have decreed otherwise, and the context conferred by advancing years have proven to be both a blessing and a curse.