Erin O'Toole's Carbon Tax Flip-Flop

As I mentioned the other day Erin O'Toole has foolishly decided to flip-flop on the topic of Canada's carbon tax. And that's is the only way to describe this. While running for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, O'Toole signed a pledge which read as follows:

I, Erin O’Toole, promise that, if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax; and, reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.

That pledge, of course, was a big part of the reason that O'Toole beat out Peter MacKay for leadership. O'Toole appealed to the western provinces by calling MacKay a squish on resource issues. MacKay hit back, accusing O'Toole of secretly supporting the Trudeau climate agenda in one particularly heated debate. Here's Ezra Levant reluctantly commending MacKay for having O'Toole's number, and offering this conclusion on the current leader:

O’Toole supporting the carbon tax is disqualifying because he promised he wouldn’t, and he received support in return for that promise. So he’s untrustworthy. He’s a liar. It’s disqualifying because a carbon tax is a terrible idea, bad scientifically, bad economically.

He might have added that it specifically disqualifies him as a leader, since -- if reports from the Toronto Star and National Post are true -- his own caucus wasn't briefed on the change. “We all first heard about this from the CBC article,” one Tory M.P. told the Post. How can he ever have the confidence of parliament if he does things like this to his own members?

Of course, not everyone was upset by this development. Some were delighted. True North highlights this tweet from Trudeau crony Gerald Butts:

True North also points out a few notable and underdiscussed green goodies contained in the O'Toole proposal:

Other measures... include a study on “new taxes on frequent flyers, non-electric luxury vehicles and second homes to deter activities that hurt the environment.” A Conservative government would also spend $1 billion on domestic electric vehicle manufacturing and an additional $1 billion to deploy hydrogen technology.

Which is to say, he's all in.

Of course, O'Toole's counter to all of this is, first, that it is necessary for winning Ontario, and second, that at least his carbon tax is better than Trudeau's. I previously mentioned Dan McTeague's refutation of the first point. To the second, I would point to Derek Fildebrandt's argument in the Western Standard that the Tory plan is actually the worse of the two:

Under Trudeau’s plan, the federal government taxes consumers in provinces that do not have their own federally-approved carbon tax, and rebates a portion of it back to those consumers to spend as they see fit. Under O’Toole’s carbon tax, the federal government will impose a similar carbon tax, but instead of rebating it, will put into ‘green cards.' These green cards will be managed by a group of bankers appointed by O’Toole, and allow carbon taxpayers to spend the money collected on government-approved green purchases.... The real difference between the Trudeau carbon tax and the O’Toole carbon tax boils down to how taxpayers are allowed to spend the money collected from them. And on this front, Justin Trudeau’s plan is somehow, unambiguously better than O’Toole’s.

Several commentators think that this gamble will hurt the CPC's electoral prospects and O'Toole's career (Brian Platt mentions Patrick Brown as the nearest analogue, who outraged the conservative grassroots when he endorsed the carbon tax, so he had no one to back him up when other scandals arose, forcing him, finally, to resign). But the ever-cheerful sage Rex Murphy is concerned about its effects on the future of Canada itself:

The Conservatives are, if the rumours are true, about to enter an election, as a pale and timid version of the Liberal party, as near-partners to the NDP and the Greens. Out West voters will throw up their hands, sigh very deeply, stay at home, and really start thinking separation is the only way to go. Really, this policy is acid to Conservative support in the West and will, for some, force a rethink of their place in Confederation.

Back when O'Toole won the leadership race, I called on him to follow the advice of his fellow Ontarian, Shania Twain, to "dance with the one[s] that brought" him, meaning the Albertans and Saskatchewaners whose support gave him the 'W'. Instead, he's listened to the political consultant class who have long held that the path to Conservative victory is to copy the Liberals in every particular and to ignore the voters that they find embarrassing.

Well that choice seems to already be paying off... for Justin Trudeau. The latest polls suggest that, going into the rumored snap election to which Murphy alluded, Liberal support sits at 39 percent, six points above what they received in the 2019 General Election, which saw them barely hold on to power with a minority government. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are down seven points from the same election, at about 27 percent.

We tried to warn him.

Canadian 'Conservatives' Offer Carbon Tax

The CBC has gotten their hands on a copy of the Conservative Party of Canada's all new Climate Change plan, and boy are they excited:

After years of criticizing the Liberal carbon tax, the Conservative party is proposing a climate plan that also puts a price on carbon for consumers.... Under [Erin] O'Toole's plan... Canadians would pay a carbon levy, initially amounting to $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions, every time they buy hydro-carbon based fuels, such as gas.... The Conservative party's carbon price... would increase over time to reach a maximum of $50 per tonne.

For comparison, Trudeau's carbon tax structure (not counting the Clean Fuel Standard, a second carbon tax in all but name) has the tax increasing $10 each year until it reaches $170 per ton in 2030.

The other notable provision of the plan is, frankly, bizarre. In the Liberal scheme, Canadians can have their carbon tax expenditures (the direct ones, not the indirect, cost of living ones) rebated back to them at tax time (more or less -- what would be the point if some of that money wasn't skimmed off the top?). In O'Toole's plan, tax revenue would be diverted directly into a "personal low carbon savings account" established for every Canadian, which could be accessed for expenditures "that help them live a greener life."

This reminds me of the old joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. "Personal low carbon savings accounts" are a camel if ever I saw one, and they'd be a nightmare to administer.

But that aside, is the 'Carbon Tax, but cheaper' play a wise one for O'Toole's Conservatives? Some smart politicos think so. Here, for instance, is Matt Gurney arguing that Canadians want to feel like their government is addressing climate change, but don't really want it to affect their lives in any way. In that case, a cheaper carbon tax might do the trick -- assuaging the consciences of enough voters in the eastern half of the country to make Erin O'Toole prime minister.

But I find Dan McTeague more convincing. By McTeague's reckoning, the O'Toole plan wouldn't merely cost the CPC a few  points of support out west, it would decrease their support in Ontario -- the big fish -- by as much as 10 percent! After all, Ontario made Doug Ford premier just three years ago on the strength of his opposition to the carbon tax. For every voter in the Greater Toronto Area who might give the CPC a second thought based on this plan, two or three more in the rest of the province might just stay home, disgusted.

That's just another way of saying 'Trudeau Majority."

In Canada, Nowhere to Run from Carbon Tax

In a 6-3 split decision issued this week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Trudeau government's carbon tax constitutional. The majority decision, written by Chief Justice Richard Wagner, held that Ottawa could legally impose the tax on all provinces because of the Peace, Order and Good Government clause of Canada's constitution, which allows the federal government to legislate on matters of national concern on which provincial governments are unable to act. Justice Wagner assumes that "unable" can also mean "unwilling," and then leans heavily on the "concern." He writes,

This matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world.... [Climate change] is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world... The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored.

Faced with this histrionic language, it is worth noting that Wagner was first appointed to the court by Conservative PM Stephen Harper, before he was made chief by Justin Trudeau. Just another example of Harper's failure to tilt the Canadian judiciary in a broadly conservative direction during his nine years in office. Trudeau's government isn't making the same mistake.

The National Post tries to put the majority's thinking in context, explaining that, for the carbon tax to achieve its declared goal of rescuing humanity from anthropogenic climate change, no province may be able to opt out, because of the danger "of carbon leakage, where an industry in a province with carbon pricing might just locate to a neighbouring province without it."

That is, if the tax is imposed only on provinces which support the Liberal government in Ottawa, then businesses hoping to avoid the tax might just move to places like Alberta and Saskatchewan, which don't. But couldn't that reasoning be extended further? Why wouldn't businesses look to relocate out of Canada altogether?

CPC leader Erin O'Toole made just this point, warning of the "same risk of leakage of jobs and investment” to the United States, the great boogie man of Canadian political discourse. But I am thinking of countries like China, which will happily accept the jobs that western virtue signalers no longer want in their own country. Of course, China doesn't have the same concerns about carbon emissions that are so common in the west, but for our environmentalists, "out of sight, out of mind" is a key principle.

In any event, it seems that the only hope that foes of the carbon tax have going forward is for the Conservatives to win an election and repeal the law. And they might soon get their shot. Hopefully they don't screw it up.

Whither Alberta—and the Rest of Canada?

It was a good deal all around. The Keystone XL pipeline, which “adds a branch connecting terminals in Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Nebraska, through a shorter route using a larger diameter pipe,” was the safest and most efficient way to ship crude oil in measures of scale—some 830,000 barrels a day—to the United States. Its cancellation was Joe Biden’s first official act. At least 10,000 American jobs will be lost and another nail has been hammered into that territorial coffin called Alberta. A good deal for the time has become a bad prospect for the future.

The consensus is that Biden, following in the footsteps of Obama, is catering to his woke-progressivist base and its environmental extremism by deep-sixing America’s energy industries in favor of expensive and unreliable Green technology. Donald Trump Jr. has a different or collateral explanation for Biden’s precipitous action. It is a gift to Warren Buffet and other Democratic Party donors.

Expanding on the younger Trump's take, Lorie Wimble explains,

Their methods of transportation, from rail lines to semi-trucks, benefit from the diminished effectiveness of the pipeline. The oil will still come, but now it will have to be transported less efficiently and at higher cost to consumers… Blocking Keystone XL has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with leftist megadonors.

Interestingly, climate change activists have tended to grow comparatively silent now that their president has promoted an energy alternative which is clearly more harmful to the environment than any conceivable state-of-the-art pipeline.

As NOQ notes,

Proponents championed [sic] that Keystone XL was going to be the cleanest pipeline project ever constructed while creating thousands of high-paying jobs. TC Energy partnered with four labor unions that would have generated $2 billion in earnings for U.S. workers. Plus, the company worked with five First Nations groups regarding equity.

But that still wasn't enough. The report goes on to point out that beyond a "black eye to the Trudeau government," this is "significant blow" to Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party. Kenney's government "invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer dollars in the project, plus about $6 billion in loan guarantees, to ensure KXL would be completed." Saskatchewan is also in the pickle jar, but Alberta is far deeper in the brine.

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau has expressed pro forma “disappointment” with the cancellation, but Rex Murphy, Canada’s premier conservative columnist, does not see the debacle as a  “black eye” for Trudeau. Far from it. He suggests that the "honour' of Trudeau receiving Biden's first phone call as president is a "diplomatic quid pro quo perhaps for not making any noise over the slashing of Alberta’s prime industry.” Murphy poses the question of the hour to the rest of Canada:

Justin, it's for you.

If you allow the savaging of our economy, if you ignore what we in Alberta have contributed to you during the good times, if you side with rabid environmentalism, pour on carbon taxes and fuel emission standards, if you bar every effort to build even one damn pipeline: Why are we in this thing?”

He concludes: “And you know what ‘this thing’ refers to.”

This thing, of course, is Confederation, and although Murphy does not use the word, the only option, in the absence of a complete “re-imagining” of the country along fair and rational lines, is secession. For the situation in which Alberta now find itself cannot go on indefinitely. If a reasonable accommodation with the federal government is not forthcoming, a tectonic shift in political and national alignments will become necessary. 

There will be many problems, of course. As I’ve written before, there are too many Canadians and not enough Albertans in the province; the ratio will have to change and a Wexit party will have to replace the current, pro-federalist Conservative administration. Perhaps a third of the population is puckered for divorce, which is a promising start. But if Alberta follows the Quebec model, secession will take 50 percent plus 1. Time is running out.

Another major issue is the fact, as Murphy points out, that Alberta is landlocked. It would need to run an “independent” pipeline to tidewater, clearly through the adjoining province of British Columbia, for which approval may not be readily forthcoming. But Alberta wields a powerful bargaining chip. It is the land bridge from Eastern Canada to the Pacific Ocean which, if blockaded, would lead to economic tribulation for the country as a whole. A trade-off with British Columbia is far from inconceivable. In fact, it seems more than likely.

There is yet another significant political development to consider, one which has international ramifications. I refer not only to the perennial struggle between the radical Left and the conservative Right, which is embedded in history and is a function of the human psyche, but to its current instantiation. The seismic conflict we are now witnessing involves two great socioeconomic forces arrayed against one another for political dominance across the planet. These may be described as the movement for one-world hegemony, as per the Great Reset and UN Agenda 2030 on the one hand, and the rise of national movements on the other, in other words, Globalism against Populism. 

The former conceives itself as universal, the latter as revanchist. The former is proposed and backed by a coalition of billionaires, technocrats and political elites, the latter by ordinary people and patriotic citizens who feel disenfranchised and coerced. The Global orientation envisions the elimination of private property, the curtailment of private transportation, surveillance of entire populations, and top-down dirigiste control of subservient nations. The populist revolution, in contrast, envisages local autonomy for peoples that recognize a common heritage and tradition, that defend the principles of free speech, religious belief, and assembly, and that demand political and economic control of their own affairs. The Global initiative advances the belief in “climate change” and the necessity of expunging the fossil-fuel energy industry at whatever cost. Populism believes it can balance economic benefits with environmental concerns.

The conflict is heating up as we speak. At the same time that the Globalist phenomenon is being enacted by a pluto-techno cabal with its headquarters in Davos, populist sentiment is erupting in many different locales around the world—Scotland, Spain/Catalonia, the U.K. (Brexit), the U.S. (Texit), and elsewhere. According to the Institute for Global Change, “Between 1990 and 2018, the number of populists in power around the world has increased a remarkable fivefold, from four to 20. This includes countries not only in Latin America and in Eastern and Central Europe—where populism has traditionally been most prevalent—but also in Asia and in Western Europe.

Within the present Canadian context, the federal perspective under Justin Trudeau is Globalist, heavily influenced by the Great Reset and what its main proponent Klaus Schwab calls the “fourth industrial revolution.” The Wexit movement in Alberta is plainly populist, consisting, in the words of the Institute for Global Change, of “hard-working victims of a state run by special interests and outsiders as political elites [who are seen] as the primary enemy of the people.”

Alberta for the Albrtans.

In the war between these two world-historical forces, global hegemony and local sovereignty, the Great Reset and nationalist populism—assuming nothing changes—Alberta will have to choose. If it goes the route of separation, it stands to reason that the rest of the country may begin to break up into several states, comprising the Maritime provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario/Manitoba, British Columbia, and the three northern territories, Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories, combining as a single federation.

In my estimation, Canada was never a coherent, overarching polity; the fault lines were always evident, incised by competing regional visions and needs, power imbalances, economic disparities and profound linguistic strife. Its eventual disintegration was probably foreordained. The break between the Eastern elites and the Western heartland is likely irremediable. There is certainly little sympathy in the rest of the country for Alberta’s plight. A recent Angus Reid poll shows that Alberta (and Saskatchewan) “will be fighting the battle to save the Keystone XL pipeline project on their own as the rest of Canada says it’s time to move on.”

Without the energy resources and capital generated by Alberta (and Saskatchewan), one wonders where the rest of the country can move on to? A Fraser Institute study finds that transfer payments make up over 27 percent of Atlantic Canada’s GDP, and that Alberta, with a diminishing tax base and a growing deficit, has financed most of the funds going to the Atlantic provinces and to Quebec. A myopic Canada does not understand that you can’t squeeze money from a dry well or that money does not drop from turbine blades.

In any event, given a Liberal-Marxist administration, a Leftist and parasitic New Democratic Party, a fantasy-driven Green Party, and a feckless Conservative Party that has sold its birthright as an electoral strategy, the choice would seem to me inevitable.

On Keystone, Trudeau Folds While Kenney Fights

In the wake of President Joe Biden's executive order killing the Keystone XL pipeline extension, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau issue a statement saying that he was "disappointed but acknowledge[s] the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” Which is to say, he folded.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, meanwhile, is going on offense, and he's trying to provoke the Prime Minister into following his lead. Kenney has been making the rounds on American television, pointing out that the U.S. and Canada have "the biggest bi-lateral trade relationship in world history," and that "the biggest part of that trade is Canadian energy exports." He continues,

We ship about, nearly $100 billion worth of energy to the U.S. every year. Keystone XL would have been a significant safe, modern increase in that shipment. It is very frustrating that one of the first acts of the new President was, I think, to disrespect America’s closest friend and ally, Canada. And to kill good-paying union jobs on both sides of the border and ultimately to make the United States more dependent on foreign oil imports from OPEC dictatorships. We don't understand it.

Kenney's been hammering away at the official account of this cancelation so that the shapers of Canadian opinion like the CBC can't just settle on a win some/lose some narrative, and then go back to cheering on Biden for not being Trump. For instance, here's Kenney at a press conference after Biden's E. O. was signed:

Let's be clear about what happened today: The leader of our closest ally retroactively vetoed approval for a pipeline that already exists, and which is co-owned by a Canadian government [the province of Alberta], directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, which is our energy industry and exports. The portion of the Keystone XL pipeline that crosses the Canada-U.S. border between Montana and Saskatchewan was installed last summer. It was built following a decade of rigorous environmental analysis and approval.... This decision was made without even giving Canada the opportunity respectfully to make the case for how Keystone XL would strengthen U.S. nation and energy security, how it would bolster both economies, and how our two countries could find a path together on climate and environmental policy.... That's not how you treat a friend and an ally.

Most pointedly, he's called out Trudeau's handling of the whole affair, and couching it not in the language of lazy partisanship we're so familiar with, but in the language of patriotism and duty. He's challenged the PM to do his job and fight for Canada. For an example, this letter Kenney wrote to Trudeau:

By retroactively revoking the permit for this project without taking the time to discuss it with their longest standing ally, the United States is setting a deeply disturbing precedent for any future projects and collaboration between our two nations. The fact that it was a campaign promise makes it no less offensive. Our country has never surrendered our vital economic interests because a foreign government campaigned against them....

We must find a path to a reconsideration of Keystone XL within the context of a broader North American energy and climate agreement.... Should that not happen, the federal government must do more than express disappointment with the decision.... I strongly urge you to ensure that there are proportionate economic consequences in response to these unfair U.S. actions.

Kenney's appeals to Trudeau's patriotism are admirable, but unlikely to hit home. Justin is, ultimately, a post-national man, and so loath to come to blows with the new, respectable Leader of the Free world. He would, no doubt, prefer the economic boost of the pipeline as a boon to his own reputation but not having to make a tough decision which could alienate either Canadian voters or the environmentalist left might be good enough for him. It's certainly in character.

A Wake-Up Call for Canada's Energy Sector

At the outset of the pandemic I was inclined to think that the tough economic realities of our post-prosperity world would diminish the environmentalist movement, as people increasingly recognized the importance of pro-work policies over and above green utopianism. Well, that hasn't happened, in part because the economic disaster hasn't been as catastrophic as it initially seemed it might be, and in part because massive increases in debt financed government spending -- most particularly on unemployment benefit top-ups and direct-to-taxpayer stimulus checks -- have obscured the rough shape the economy is actually in.

Consequently, environmentalist fantasies have continued unabated, with their most recent victory being Joe Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project via executive order on day one of his presidency, a move which has already eliminated one thousand Canadian jobs and will shortly do the same to tens of thousands stateside. I've spent this past week hammering both Biden's decision and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's supine indolence in standing against it on behalf of Canadian workers.

Along those same lines, Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, has written a sobering blogpost which really is Must Read. McTeague, a longtime Canadian M. P. (he was elected as a Liberal, but don't hold that against him), knows more than anyone about Canada's resource industry and the effects burdensome regulations on it has on regular people.

After pointing out that Keystone XL was "one of the most sophisticated, innovative, job-creating, economy-stimulating, aboriginal-engaging, infrastructure projects in North America," McTeague rakes the Trudeau government over the coals for its totally inadequate management of the issue:

The response from Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, to Biden’s decision was appalling. Minister Wilkinson said that he wasn’t going to dwell on this particular decision about a pipeline, but instead would focus on the new climate ally we have. Incredibly, he took the view that the new U.S. administration “offered a welcome dose of climate optimism.”

Climate optimism? Think about this, fellow Canadians. Climate optimism for Jonathan Wilkinson means having someone in charge of the biggest economy in the world ranting about a “climate crisis” just like Justin Trudeau does, while ignoring the real crisis. And what is the real crisis? It is the disaster of ideologically-driven environmental policy that raises the cost of living and kills jobs.

He goes on to warn Canada's oil and gas companies that they had better wake up.

Your customers are watching you trip over yourselves to show your green credentials and as you boast about your commitment to meet globally-imposed emission reduction targets such as the Paris Accord’s 30% reductions by 2030 target, or Canada’s “net-zero emissions by 2050” commitment.

Instead, those companies have to accept the fact that "the Trudeau government and their friends simply do not want your sector to exist," adding "Stop pretending that you do not know this!"

So, assuming that Canada's oil and gas industry takes McTeague's advice, what should they do in practice? He has several concrete proposals, including doing a better job of promoting the good work they do, both with the public and with politicians; and refusing to adopt the environmentalist language of the left, which has the effect of conceding their points (which are wrong).

Most important, he advises them to stand up for their customers, and "be a voice for their interests instead of the interests of environmental activists, their government friends, and the investment community sharks who feast off the green largesse of the taxpayer."

This should be a wake up call to all Canadians, McTeague says, demonstrating as it does "that Canada doesn’t matter to the U.S., and Justin Trudeau and his minions like Jonathan Wilkinson aren’t capable of changing that current reality." Canadians should respond accordingly.

Trudeau's Pipeline 'Weak Sauce'

Well, it looks like the Trudeau Government is throwing in the towel on the Keystone pipeline. On Wednesday evening the Prime Minister released a statement saying “We are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” Ben Woodfinden is exactly right:

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Trudeau's initial approach was to argue that Biden's anti-climate change instincts were admirable but misguided, since the project had addressed the issues which most troubled environmentalists at the outset. It seemed as though Trudeau was attempting to employ his own green bona fides to give Biden cover to back down on Keystone, but to no avail. So, as in the case of Pfizer's failing to deliver Canada's contracted vaccine doses, Justin has decided to just put up his well-manicured hands and say, in essence, 'We're a small country, what can I do?'

Never mind that Canada's unemployment and labor participation rates are down, and the jobs Keystone XL generates for the resource sector are desperately needed.

Source: Statistics Canada

Trudeau would do well to remember the old saying, '[W]hen America sneezes, Canada gets a cold.' Both countries have weathered the lockdowns better than one would have thought back in March. That's why they are still going on (even if some of their most ardent apologists have started to back away from them).

But they've only done so well by taking on enormous amounts of new debt, the bill for which will begin to come due sooner than anyone thinks. This will no doubt cause serious problems for the U. S., but America's sheer size and its extremely diverse economy will provide a cushion that the smaller and resource-dependent Canada just won't have.

So what should Trudeau do? Well, some of the aggressiveness he showed when America's last president put a ten percent tariff on Canadian aluminum (part of a push which led Trump to drop the duty a month later) would be welcome. Of course, Trump was not a CBC-approved American the way Joe Biden is, and consequently Trudeau would have to expend real political capital -- perhaps more than he has -- to similarly fight for his nation's interests.

A more realistic hope might be for his making a sustained case for Keystone XL as beneficial for both of our countries at a time of real economic distress. The Heartland Institute's Steven Milloy has a good brief against Biden's Keystone cancellation which lays out many of the points that Trudeau could make. After establishing that the environmental effects of Keystone XL would be negligible, Milloy explains that,

According to the U. S . Chamber of Commerce, the Keystone XL will:

Consequently, for Milloy, "the revocation of the Keystone XL permit will be the exaltation of imaginary global climate benefits over real ones to U. S. workers and communities." Needless to say, the same could be said on the Canadian side.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Trudeau has officially folded. TC Energy -- which owns the pipeline -- have already announced a halt on construction and thousands of layoffs. More's the pity.

If At First You Don't Secede... Wexit

The idea of secession seems almost inevitably to surface in times of national turmoil, political disarray, ideological and ethnic pillarization and economic resentment. In the wake of the Great Fraud, aka the 2020 American election, there is a whiff of secession in the air.

Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession.” Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Though he asserted “I never say anything about secession,” the implication was certainly present. Texit is in the wind. Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) said “I am committing to file legislation this session that will allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Canada has undergone two secession movements originating in the province of Quebec, based on a founding schism between two distinct peoples—which novelist Hugh MacLennan called the “two solitudes” in his book of  that title—culminating in a clash between two legal traditions, Quebec’s Napoleonic civil code and the ROC’s (rest of Canada) common law, and two languages, French and English.

Two referenda were held, in 1980 and 1995, the second defeated by the narrowest of margins, 50.58 percent to 49.42 percent. It is hard to say if separation would have been a “good thing,” whether Quebec would have prospered and Canada grown more coherent. I would hazard that the first prospect would have been enormously improbable, the second at least remotely possible.

Sunrise in Calgary? Or sundown?

The independence movement is alive today, but in another province. Alberta, which is Canada’s energy breadbasket, has suffered egregiously under the rule of Eastern Canada’s Laurentian Elite, beginning in modern times with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s low-pricing, high taxing National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980, which devastated Alberta’s oil industry.

According to the BOE report, “Economic disaster quickly followed. Alberta’s unemployment rate shot from 4% to more than 10%. Bankruptcies soared 150%.” Home values collapsed by 40 percent and the province plunged into debt. The debacle has climaxed with son Justin’s Green-inspired economic destruction and effective shutdown of the province’s energy sector. Unemployment has risen to more than 11 percent, thousands of residents are leaving the province, debt is soaring and cutbacks have severely impacted daily life.

As a result, a potent secession movement, known as "Wexit," has gathered momentum and solidified into a new political party. In addition, the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta registered as a political party on June 29. Its platform includes asserting the independence of the province, redefining the relationship with Canada, developing natural resources, and creating a Constitution of Alberta.

After having increased the job-killing carbon tax during—of all times!—the COVID pandemic and lockdown that had already pulverized the nation’s economy, prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced he will raise the tax almost sixfold to $170 per tonne by 2030, thus breaking the Liberal government’s promise “not to increase the (carbon) price post-2022.” According to the Toronto Sun, “That will increase the cost of gasoline by about 38 cents per litre, plus the cost of home heating fuels such as natural gas and oil.”

And according to Kris Sims at the Sun, “Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.” Filling up a light duty pickup truck will cost a surplus $45 per tank, and an extra $204 for the big rigs that deliver dry goods and comestibles. But that “won’t be the end of the increased cost the Canadians will face, starting with a $15 billion government investment in other climate change initiatives.” 

All Canadians will be hard hit, but Albertans, who once fueled the engine of Canadian prosperity and who have the resources to do so again, will feel the provocation and injury even more profoundly. As Rex Murphy writes in the National Post, it is “the province that carries most of the weight, bears the most pain and has the least say in this mad enterprise.” The tax, he continues, will “injure the very farmers who have been stocking the supermarket shelves during COVID, put oil workers (at least those who still have jobs) out of work, increase the cost of living for everyone, place additional strain on the most needy and antagonize a large swath of the Canadian public.”  

Kyle Biedermann is on the money when he says that “The federal government is out of control.” This is as true of Canada as it is of the United States, at least with respect to the major agencies of government. For this reason, I support the secession movement in Alberta. The province has no alternative if it is to survive a faltering and repressive Confederation saddled with an out-and-out Marxist prime minister, a de facto alliance with Communist China, an infatuation with an unworkable and unaffordable tax-subsidized Green technological program, a $400 billion deficit, a national debt exploding past the $1 trillion mark, and, in short, nameplate disasters like Trudeau’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy cabaret. 

Alberta’s survival depends on restoring its energy sector to full capacity and shucking off the federal burden of over-regulation, crushing taxation, Green fantasy-thinking and unpayable debt. Murphy again:

This new carbon tax will throw a spike in the heart of the oil and gas industry. Keep in mind that it is but the most recent in a long string of policies designed to hamstring the industry, block its exports and drive investment out of the province.

For Alberta, it’s leave or die. Other provinces may eventually have to follow the same route as Canada disintegrates under the brazen incompetence and global-socialist doctrines of the current administration, with no relief in sight.

As oil executive Joan Sammon writes, Inexpensive energy is imperative for a thriving economy, manufacturing excellence, economic mobility, job creation and a future of prosperity.” Clearly, there must be citizen pushback against the economy-killing decrees of a myopic and virtue-signaling government. People must put pressure on their elected representatives to resist the deliberate dismantling of the free market that will cost them the life of material abundance and comfort they take for granted. They must rid themselves of their infatuation with leftist memes, policies and hypocrisies.

I have a neighbor, a staunch adherent of our high-taxing, socialist administrations, who drives across the border to the U.S. to fill up her car at around one third the domestic price of fuel. She remains oblivious of the cognitive dissonance that governs her practice. Such thinking and behavior are what qualify as ultimately “unsustainable.” 

It's now or never.

The industry, too, Sammon writes, “needs to take back control from the preaching class and remind them that their lifestyles have been brought to them by the men and woman of the oil and gas industry.” The “green zealotry” that drives their anti-market efforts will destroy Alberta and lead eventually to the economic collapse of the entire country. Alberta, however, is at present the only province with a robust secession movement and, given its resource-rich milieu and the independent character of a large segment of its inhabitants, the only province in a position to save itself.

In any event, the message to Alberta is simple and straightforward. If at first you don’t secede, try and try again. The Overton Window is closing fast.

Thanks Again, Fracking!

In a recent article in the Toronto Sun, Lorrie Goldstein comments on a surprising fact: that Justin Trudeau, the dream political leader of the environmental lobby, is going to have to concede that Canada has missed the emissions reduction target it agreed to in 2009, while America -- after four years under Donald J. Trump -- will actually exceed that target. Says Goldstein:

This despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, never imposed a national carbon tax on the U.S. Nor has any American president done so. Also, despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2017, saying it was contrary to the economic interests of the U.S.

The 2009 targets, negotiated by the prime minister and the president's respective predecessors as part of the Copenhagen Accord, informally committed both nations to reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. While America's emissions projections for 2020 are about 20 percent below 2005 levels, Canada's projections are down only 0.14 percent. For Canada to meet its commitments for 2020, Goldstein points out, "we would have to cut our current emissions by 123 million tonnes — the equivalent of the annual emissions from our entire agriculture sector and most of our electricity sector — in less than a month."

How could this be? Well, part of the story of America's success (if you could call it that) is the government imposed Covid-19 lockdowns. Goldstein mentions that U. S. emissions for 2020 are down roughly 10 percent from where they otherwise would have been without the lockdowns, which sounds great until you consider the economic devastation they also wrought. The cure in this case was far worse than the disease.

Of course, Canada also locked down and had an equivalent emissions drop. Which is to say, the pandemic doesn't even begin to tell the full story.

What actually happened is that, while the Trudeau government dove deep into virtue signaling environmentalist rhetoric, the U. S. allowed "market forces, innovation and [smart] energy policy" to do their work. Among other things, the U. S. leaned in hard to hydraulic fracturing, allowing us to gradually transition away from our reliance on coal towards natural gas, which "burns at half the carbon dioxide intensity of coal."

Meanwhile in Canada, Goldstein points out, "several provinces have banned fracking," bowing to anti-fracking sentiment in the green movement, while the Trudeau government has imposed a national carbon tax (and doubled it mid-way through a global pandemic), and put real political capital into transitioning away from oil and natural gas, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of the nation's GDP.

It'd be nice if more environmentalists started recognizing (as Michael Schellenberger has) that their preferred methods of addressing these issues are mostly hokum and started advocating for policies which actually work. Both don't hold your breath. Most of them are just hypocrites who mindlessly condemn President Trump as a Captain Planet-style villain, while lauding all of the Trudeaupian fluff.

Canadian Ecopoets' Dream Is Albertan Nightmare

 Seamus O’Regan, Newfoundland pseudo-nonce-poet, Canada’s natural resources minister and all-round “weightless politician” (as Rex Murphy dubs him), has turned to poetry, offering a homiletic assessment of Canada’s bright Green future once Canada’s oil-and gas giant, the province of Alberta, has been economically destroyed. In a poem, or rather, a piece of anaphoric doggerel, entitled ALBERTA Is, the poet- minister informs us

Obviously, Alberta is, and can be, none of these. Hydrogen, batteries, geothermal, and electric vehicles are all dead letters. They are unworkable. The evidence is incontrovertible. Moreover, in a cramp of logical thinking, if Alberta is everything O’Regan says it is, then capture technology has no place in his catalogue. The Twitter post capping this feeble attempt at poetic afflatus, Alberta is vital to [Canada's] clean energy future, is an emblem of perilous inanity. As Michael Shellenberger has shown in article and book, clean energy is remarkably dirty. A functioning Alberta is vital not to a non-existent “clean energy future” but to Canada’s energy independence, industrial survival and national prosperity. O’Regan’s Alberta is a radical environmentalist’s baleful fantasy.

O’Regan may not be a poet in any meaningful sense of the word, anymore than he is an effective minister, but he has the backing of Canada’s poetic community. Acclaimed Canadian versifiers like Dionne Brand, Michael Ondaatje and George Elliott Clarke have signed on to an ecological movement known as The Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another, which has targeted Alberta for destruction by transitioning Canada away from fossil fuels.

A poetically influential school known as ecopoets or wilderness poets have added their collective voice to the call for deep-sixing the energy sector and replacing it with abortive renewables like wind and solar, which are known to be unaffordable, inadequate and environmentally disastrous.

For example, in “At the Center, A Woman” from Tourist to Ecstasy, voluminously published ecopoet Tim Lilburn revives an indigenous fable enjoining us to return to the feminine source of unspoiled existence and the spirit of nature— 

Her voice is black water under wheat’s erect earth.
Uh.    Uh.
Her teeth are armies.   Uh.
Her throat’s flex, tree, flowing mass. Cottonwood, beech.
She songs the forest. Energy mezzos.
Mmho  Mmho  Mmho  Ho Ho Ho Ho

Apparently, the time for a new understanding has arrived. We have come to “the edge of the known world,” he informs us, “and the beginning of philosophy.” The beginning of philosophy entails the end of the energy sector and the apotheosis of water, wheat and forest. O brave new world that has such poets in it. 

Ecopoetry’s most famous Canadian practitioner, award-winning Don McKay, argues in an essay for Making the Geologic Now, "[T]he intention of culture… has been all too richly realized, that there is little hope for an other that remains other, for wilderness that remains wild.” In order to assure a revivified nature, we must cease “digging up fossilized organisms and burning them, effectively turning earthbound carbon into atmospheric carbon, drastically altering the climate.

Rather we must affirm “the visionary experience of wilderness as undomesticated presence”—though domesticated, it turns out, by much scarred terrain where “rare earths” are mined and featuring landscape-devouring and soil-poisoning solar panels, 285 feet high wind turbines, unrecyclable blades and masts, bird hecatombs and, as Jean-Louis Butré writes in Figarovox/Tribune, lamenting the despoliation of the French countryside, “new concrete blockhouses to maintain these monsters.” The result is “le déversement de tonnes de bétons dans nos campagnes.”

O nature, pleine de grace.

The costs of eventual land reclamation will be, as he says, “pharaminous” and an insupportable burden on municipalities. How this fact consorts with McKay’s environmentally-conscious urging to “amend our lives, to live less exploitatively and consumptively,” and to honor spirit of place remains an open question.

Indifferent poets have also contributed to the wilderness-inspired trashing of reliable energy production. To take one example, in Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry, Mari-Lou Rowley presents us with “Tar Sands, Going down”:

Look up! look way up-
nothing but haze and holes.
Look down!
bitumen bite in the
neck arms thighs of Earth
a boreal blistering,
boiling soil and smoke-slathered sky.

Environmental Catharism is now the name of the game. As Abraham Miller explains, lamenting the deterioration of California’s infrastructure, the Green mandate has shifted state expenditures to providing renewable energy rather than maintaining power lines. Rolling blackouts are the result. In addition, the environmental lobby has prevented prudent clear cutting in order to ensure “nutrients for the soil,” creating forests of highly combustible underbrush and dead trees. The trouble is, Miller warns, “What happens in California never stays in California.”

Very true. Once Alberta is decommissioned, California Dreamin’ is Canada’s future. So much for wilderness, the virgin bride of Canada’s poetic suitors. Unfortunately, Mmho  Mmho will not take us very far.

Just ask a real poet.

In his celebrated essay, A Defence of Poetry, Percy Bysshe Shelley, among the great Romantic poets of the early 19th century, claimed that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Shelley was determined to refute the thesis of his friend Thomas Love Peacock, who in The Four Ages of Poetry had argued that poetry had become useless in the era of the Enlightenment. Rather, Shelley asserted, poets are innovators, revolutionaries, visionaries of the “highest order,” and the source of “those social sympathies [and] elementary laws from which society develops.” The true poet runs counter to the shibboleths of the time, rejecting the modish fancies and social trends that imbue the culture. His mandate is skepticism and critique.

Regrettably, our poets no longer challenge the fads and superstitions of the day. Like the politicians, journalists, and academics who have plunged headlong into Green, they have become supine followers of the climate mandarins, lobbying for renewable energy and the abolition of the oil and gas industry. Alberta bad. Energy disaster good. They have become Seamus O’Regan.

There may yet be hope. W.H. Auden, one of the best and most intelligent poets of the modern era, wrote that “Poetry makes nothing happen.” Alberta has a mighty struggle on its hands but, if Peacock and Auden are right, it need not worry about its poetic adversaries—except when, like O’Regan, they happen to be politicians.