Considering their obsession with race, liberals everywhere have a tendency to stumble into racist territory at least as often as the "normies" they so despise. This is principally because, for all of their mockery of Republicans for having "token" black friends (Dick Durban memorably used the word to describe Senator Tim Scott), many of them only know of minorities what they learned from outdated activist playbooks.
We're seeing this phenomenon play out in the U.S. election, as when Joe Biden proclaimed that African Americans "ain't black" if they haven't yet decided whether to vote for him. Similarly, many Hispanic voters were alarmed by Biden's declaration that he would "go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history," remembering, as they do, that "progresivo" is the preferred self-description of the regimes many of them fled. (Quinnipiac recently even had Trump leading outright with likely Hispanic voters in the crucial state of Florida).
Though they don't like to say it out loud, liberals tend to think that they're owed the votes of racial minorities, and that they should be seen -- especially at campaign rallies -- but not heard. Specifically, that their actual opinions about contentious issues, from defunding the police, to immigration, to job killing regulations, just complicate the narrative.
Native groups, of course, are frequently used this way, especially on environmental issues. In a feature I wrote back in July, after retelling the story of Canada's Wet’suwet’en nation, who were supportive of a pipeline project on their territory that protesters were boycotting on their behalf (something I'd written about before), I commented:
Activists and their friends in the media don't want us to hear that side of the story [i.e. that Natives supported a pipeline], as it undercuts the Rousseauvian depiction of indigenous people that they want haunting our imaginations. They would prefer we think of Natives exclusively as victims... still in a state of mystical harmony with nature, disinterested in all worldly concerns. But this is an embarrassing caricature of natives, both historically as well as in the present day.
Writing at the Calgary Herald, Stephen Buffalo and Ken Coates have an op-ed that looks at the struggles Canada's Liberal Party has along these same lines. As they explain:
Since its election in 2015, the Trudeau government cancelled the Northern Gateway Pipeline, banned oil and gas exploration in the Arctic and oil tankers off the British Columbia coast, brought in complex environmental assessment processes, and appeared to actively discourage investment in the industry.
However, that same government is committed, at least rhetorically, to supporting indigenous communities. The problem is that the economic well-being of First Nations in Canada
[I]s closely associated with the natural resource economy, particularly mining, oil and gas. Government policy is putting at risk the impressive gains supported by government policy in recent decades.
As in the Wet’suwet’en situation, oil and gas projects often occur on or near the lands of First Nations communities. Having title to that land is an asset to them. It also provides jobs for members of their communities. The authors make clear that these groups care about responsible environmental stewardship, and don't want to see their lands polluted or spoiled -- who does? But if that can be managed while also bringing wealth and employment to the communities, where's the problem?
Indigenous communities engaged with the oil and gas industry for solid reasons: to build prosperity, employment and business, to gain autonomy from the government of Canada, to secure a measure of influence over project decision-making, and to assert a prominent place in the national and international economy.
As John O'Sullivan has mentioned, the Conservative Party of Canada has just selected a new leader: Durham, Ontario M. P. Erin O'Toole. O'Toole succeeded in edging past former Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay, as well as the more right-wing candidates, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.
O'Toole himself ran as essentially the "Buckley Rule" candidate, referring to the founder of National Review's mid-'60s proclamation that his magazine would support "the rightwardmost viable candidate" in a given election. Despite his not-particularly-conservative voting record, O'Toole leaned hard on his military service during the campaign to sell himself as "True Blue O'Toole," manly patriot, not like progressive pretty boy like MacKay (who was famously named 'Canada's Sexiest Male MP' by The Hill Times in the early oughts, a fact which should have disqualified him from the start), who can actually hold Justin Trudeau to account in opposition (unlike Lewis, who doesn't yet have a seat in parliament) but is moderate enough (unlike, according to some, Sloan) to win a general election.
There's a lot of balancing going on in that pitch, one that sticks close to the political consultants' standard playbook: right-wing enough to win out west, centrist enough to pick up a few more seats in Ontario and then form a government.
That is, of course, a tenuous balance. That playbook also advises conservatives to go all-in on green initiatives to win in the Greater Toronto Area, and offer Western Canada... well, nothing. Except not being Trudeau that is. But western Canadians have a fiercely independent streak, and they've acted on it before, breaking off from the Progressive Conservative Party in the '80s (in rebellion against a Tory leader who they felt was unresponsive to their interests) to form the Reform Party, which supplanted the the P. C. Party within five years.
The "unite the right" movement of the early 2000s healed that divide and led to the creation of the modern Conservative Party, but it would be foolish for O'Toole to assume that's the end of the story. Consequently, O'Toole made it a point to launch his leadership campaign in Calgary, and he's racked up western endorsements, including from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who proclaimed that O'Toole is "committed to a fair deal for the West and a strong future for our resource industries."
Only time will tell whether that is an accurate assessment. O'Toole has been all over the place on the resource sector, initially calling for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies -- a questionable description of industry-specific tax deductions for one of the largest contributors to Canada's economy, especially since the so-called renewable energy industry against which it is competing wouldn't exist without massive government subsidies -- before backing away from that pledge. He's also advocated repealing the Liberal's carbon tax, which he pledged to replace with "a national industrial regulatory and pricing regime," essentially a carbon tax by another name.
Alberta's support was definitive in O'Toole's beating out MacKay, and as much as he's likely being told to break left right now to appeal to the Toronto suburbs, he should heed the advice of a fellow Ontarian, and "dance with the one that brought" him. Because Alberta's economy has been hit harder by Covid-19 and the lockdowns than any other, and western discontentment have the potential to tear the party and the country apart.
May on Venus: Portrait of a Canadian Climate Zealot
As in many other countries, climate science in Canada has become both heavily politicized and cognitively polluted. Our government, like our science community, has grown thoroughly infected with faddish assumptions about climate change, the nature of greenhouse gasses, the presumed disaster of energy extraction and delivery, and the impending fate of the planet.
Though not alone in the propagation of error and pro-forma panic, former leader of the Green Party and still parliamentary leader of a caucus of two MPs, Elizabeth May has become Canada’s most prominent doomsayer. She is not only a climate zealot but a typically aspiring political autocrat who, according to CBC News, has been accused “of consolidating her power within the party through her position as parliamentary leader, and through her husband's new position on the party's federal council.” But as her husband suggests, nothing to see here, move on.
May seems to act with a self-assurance bordering on sanctimonious disregard. She had no compunction about violating a court order against blocking access to a pipeline site, for which she was charged with criminal contempt. Equally, her kookiness seems to have no bounds. May tweeted warnings about the possible dangers of WiFi which, she alleged, might be related to the “disappearance of pollinating insects.”
Venus: surface temperature 932 Fahrenheit.
With a degree in law and studies in theology, May has a provocative knack for the lectern and the pulpit, lecturing the lost and the fallen with pontifical fervor, whether in speech or screed. Writing in Policy: Canadian Politics and Public Policy under the rubric “Climate Apocalypse Now: Venus, Anyone?” May informs us that “The alarm bells are ringing ever more loudly: We are in a climate emergency.” A brief overview of her sources and authorities will help us put her deposition in a wider, evidentiary perspective.
May relies on what she dubs “a clear and compelling warning from the world’s largest peer-reviewed science process,” the United Nations IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and summons the prestige of the UN’s General Secretary Antonio Guterres, who claims that “we are running out of time” to address an imminent climate cataclysm by reducing carbon emissions.
Following Guterres, she worries about the “low-lying island states for whom failing to meet that goal is an existential threat”—a charge that has been thoroughly rumbled, although neither Guterres nor May seem to know that—or if they do, they’re not letting on. Even the pro-warmist site ResearchGate (Global and Planetary Change) admits to the contrary that “the average change in island land area has so far been positive.”
Coming in for an underwater landing at Malé.
The presumably sinking Maldives have just built four new airports and propose to build even more to accommodate the expanding tourist trade and the presumptively sinking atolls and reef islands of Tuvalu are actually growing larger. As Energy Research Institute founder and CEO Rob Bradley Jr. writes, “[The alarmist temperature and sea-level predictions] constitute yet another exaggerated Malthusian scare.” We recall the Club of Rome’s prediction of resource exhaustion, Paul Ehrlich’s population bomb and M. King Hubbert’s Peak Oil scare.
All in all, I’m not sure Guterres is the best advocate to call upon. There’s enough wind in the man to power a wind turbine all by his lonesome. Guterres, who gives the impression of believing in “climate change” with holy zeal, is a Davos stalwart, an apologist for the corrupt, China-friendly W.H.O., and a China hack to boot.
Investigative journalist Matthew Russell Lee points to “China Energy's proven bribery at the UN, and bid to buy an oil company linked to Guterres through the Gulbenkian Foundation.” Indeed, Guterres' 2016 online disclosure “omits… his listed role through 2018 in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.” The arrangement is being concluded via Partex Oil and Gas, of which the Foundation holds 100 percent of the share capital. Despite his melodramatic public pronouncements, Guterres is clearly untroubled by the (ostensible) impact of oil extraction on the environment.
As for May’s beloved IPCC, it is another apocryphal gospel. In The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert, Donna Laframboise shows that the IPCC “has been recruiting 20-something graduate students” as lead authors, many of whom had not even earned their degrees and some of whom were majoring in non-climate disciplines. The IPCC relies heavily on non-peer reviewed material (so much for May’s erroneous contention regarding IPCC peer-reviewed authenticity), including newspaper items, press releases, magazine articles, unpublished graduate theses and Green activist sources. It is nothing less than a privileged lobbying organization for vested financial interests, and anyone who consults its findings for fiscal or ideological purposes is either venal or ignorant.
Elizabeth May is a member in high standing of this troupe of contemporary climate fanatics. But she has good company in our deeply uneducated prime minister Justin Trudeau and our new finance minister, the incompetent Chrystia Freeland, who argues that “the restart of our economy has to be green”—no surprise from the political maladroit and “social justice” evangelist who bungled our NAFTA negotiations with the U.S.
Many of the major figures in the Conservative Party are also Green missionaries. They may be her competitors but they are also Elizabeth’s children, all playing the dangerous game of climate politics. As Charles Rotter writes introducing the new documentary film Global Warning, “Canada is fast becoming the leading global example for what can happen when climate politics meet traditional energy industry. It has the third largest known reserves of oil and gas on the planet and could provide affordable, reliable energy to many parts of the world… It is a country living a potentially tragic story of climate politics.”
May is far from finished in her climate scaremongering. She next informs us, parroting a host of predictions, that 2020 “is on track to be the hottest year on record.” The hottest year on record was, it appears, 1934—although the inevitable margin of error renders such predictions suspect.
May is also, as expected, a big fan of wind farms, urging the country to “accelerate the rapid deployment of wind turbines.” She would be better advised to consult the Members of the Ohio General Assembly, who have thoroughly exploded the wind turbine scam. After having reviewed the Icebreaker wind turbine project, placed before the Ohio Power Sitting Board, with a view to its costs, massive job losses and multiple negative environmental effects, they affirm that they “do not want this project to move forward in any form.” To mention some of their concerns: The leakage of industrial lubricants from the 404 gallons per gearbox, the tendency to catch fire, the absence of full Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) (which neither government nor industry is keen to furnish), and the inability to provide permanent jobs.
May’s glib deceptions, appeal to authority, and cynical indifference to indisputable facts is scrupulously anatomized in an email exchange with a knowledgeable opponent on the health problems associated with turbines, including sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, exhaustion and various forms of “sick building.” May, of course, does not live in the vicinity of a wind farm and need not worry about this Aeolic species of neurological radiation.
In her conclusion, May insists that “We cannot cave into [sic] Alberta and the oil sands” but must instead follow “the brilliant lead of TransAlta’s new solar investments using Tesla batteries. We have a sustainable future within our grasp.” Here May’s ignorance is truly staggering. As The Manhattan Institute’s senior fellow Mark Mills enlightens us, “the annual output of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the world’s largest battery factory, could store three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. It would require 1,000 years of production to make enough batteries for two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand. Meanwhile, 50–100 pounds of materials are mined, moved, and processed for every pound of battery produced.” The ground contamination is off the charts.
Nonetheless, we are apprised that CO2 must be dramatically reduced before Armageddon strikes. Perhaps this is not such a great idea. In Oh, Oh, Canada, William Gairdner, basing his estimates on the scientific research conducted by the Fraser Institute’s 1997 publication Global Warming: The Science and the Politics, reminds us that CO2 levels during the Ordovician Age of 440 million years ago were ten times higher than they are at present. And that the Ordovician happened to coincide with an ice age.Princeton physicist William Happer also highlights the fact that “Life on earth flourished for hundreds of million years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today.” CO2, he writes,“will be a major benefit to the Earth.” Something to ponder.
A perfect example of this strategy is May’s rhetorical question, “Venus anyone?” The surface temperature of Venus is more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit; on Earth it is approximately 58 degrees. The atmospheric mantle of Venus consists of approximately 97 percent carbon dioxide, Earth’s approximately 0.4 percent, lower by a factor of around 245.
But then, who knows what may happen in another trillion years or so. Elizabeth May and her ideological cronies might well be vindicated.
Fitch Downgrades Canada's Credit Rating
Fitch Ratings, one of the big three global credit rating agencies, has announced it's downgrading Canada's credit rating from AAA to AA+. This is due to the tremendous debt -- roughly a quarter of a trillion dollars -- the Canadian government took on to prop up the economy during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Though the Trudeau government was quick to argue that Canada's economy remains strong and that the country in an ideal position to turn things around, this does have the potential to significantly increase the cost of government borrowing and of doing business. That danger, moreover, will be amplified if, as some think, there are further downgrades to come:
David Rosenberg... has been predicting a downgrade on Canada’s sovereign debt since late April and thinks this won’t be the last. “The real question is: What took so long?’ .... Canada’s excessively leveraged national balance sheet has looked a lot like China, Italy and Greece for quite a while.” While Ottawa may appear to be in “solid” financial shape to some, this has “masked bloated debt ratios” in households, business sectors, and most of the provinces, he said. “This won’t be the last ratings cut, I can assure you,” said Rosenberg.
Now, it is true that governments worldwide have responded to the pandemic by racking up what would normally be unthinkable amounts of debt. Consequently, it is likely that Canada won't be the only country to have its rating downgraded.
Rather than championing Canada's hydrocarbon industry and creating economic growth with our country’s wealth of natural resources, O’Toole’s policies seem most focused on maintaining the what-seems-to-be-required, green-is-god image of so many politicians.... Our natural resources are an asset to this country, not a liability. They keep energy affordable, and give us one of the highest standards of living. O’Toole and other political candidates seem determined to remain blind to that fact.
You would hope that this turn of events would cause Canada's governing class to thank its lucky stars for the energy sector, a potential launchpad for recovery. But unfortunately they'll probably keep just hoping for pats on the head from similarly green-obsessed organizations like the UN -- and how's that been working out for them?
Eventually someone is going to have to grow up and start taking things seriously.
Tides Canada Rebrands as 'MakeWay'
I actually LOL'd when I read this article announcing that the "progressive" environmentalist organization, Tides Canada, is "rebranding" as MakeWay.
The Vancouver-based non-profit group, which took its name from the American Tides Foundation 20 years ago, funds hundreds of charities across Canada in the area of environmental and social justice. But in recent years, its association with the Tides Foundation and its participation in the Tar Sands Campaign... placed it in Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s crosshairs....
“Smear campaigns about Tides Canada have repeatedly misconstrued the purpose of [our] international philanthropic funding and have also conflated it with the U.S.-based Tides Foundation,” the organizations states in a press release.
Wow, so Jason Kenney (boo! hiss!) unjustly roped Tides Canada into his inquiry into foreign funded anti-Albertan oil campaigns just because they borrowed the name of an American foundation which they totally have nothing to do with today?!?! Outrageous!
Or else, you know, extremely misleading.
It may be true that people reading Vivian Krause's indispensable reporting (which influenced Kenney's inquiry) on the millions of dollars both the Tides Foundation and Tides Canada have spent keeping Canadian oil in the ground might have trouble tracking which seven or eight figure donation came from which organization. But the suggestion that its inclusion is unjust is ludicrous, as Krause makes plain in her call for Tides Canada to be investigated, published back in 2011:
Since 2000, Tides Canada has gone through $200 million. That's a lot of cash and it raises a fair question: Where did all that money come from, and what has Tides Canada accomplished with it? .... U.S. tax returns and on-line records show that since 2000, Tides Canada has been paid nearly $60 Million by American foundations.
Perhaps its not so shocking that they've ended up in "Jason Kenney's crosshairs."
The truth is, organizations like Tides Canada prefer it when regular people have never heard of them. It allows them to operate with minimal scrutiny, make powerful contacts without triggering anyone's spidey sense, and serve as a launchpad into politics for activists, as when Tides Canada VP Sarah Goodman was tapped as Justin Trudeau's climate policy director. The inquiry makes it harder to do those things, hence the rebranding.
Here's hoping that, if they keep doing what they've been doing, Krause and Kenney can make "MakeWay" just as toxic.
Jason Kenney's Diplomatic Response to Biden
Last week I wrote about the ridiculous pledge from Joe Biden's campaign to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project should Joe succeed in his bid to become the 46th President of these United States. Well, the following day Biden came out of his Delaware basement, saw his shadow, and magnanimously allowed reporters to ask him a few questions. One of those questions was about his Keystone pledge, and here is what the former veep had to say:
“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tarsands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Biden said in an interview with CNBC. Biden said he wouldn’t want to stop all oil projects immediately, but vowed to transition the U.S. “gradually… to a clean economy.” He said Keystone “does not economically, nor, in my view, environmentally, make any sense.”
In my post I mentioned how bizarre it is that Biden would endanger all the jobs that Keystone XL has and will continue to provide in two countries, while also antagonizing Canada, a key ally and major (and increasingly important) trading partner. Well, in his reply to Biden's comments Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hit a lot of the same notes, while having the diplomatic sense to suggest that the issue might not be Biden's stupidity as much as that he has been poorly served by his advisors:
The comments made by [former U.S.] vice-president Biden suggest that he hasn’t been well or accurately briefed on the dependence of the American economy on Canadian energy exports,” Kenney said. “It’s a hugely important strategic development for the United States that North America is now energy independent — no longer dependent on imports from OPEC dictatorships like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.... The Keystone pipeline... delivers about 600,000 barrels a day of heavy Alberta crude to refineries primarily in the Midwest in Illinois. So, a whole lot of jobs and the economy in the American Midwest are dependent on that supply of energy through the Keystone pipeline.
We would hope to have a chance to ensure Mr. Biden was aware of these facts and also aware that the building trades union, the construction unions, the steelworkers unions — which are traditional supporters of Mr. Biden’s party — are strongly in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which has already crossed the border, which is creating thousands of jobs on both sides of the border and which will ensure that the United States is no longer dependent on OPEC crude,” Kenney said.
The premier went on to point out that Biden's claim that the claim that the project is not economically viable doesn't stand up to scrutiny since Keystone "has been operating for 10 years, profitably and successfully, both for the refineries, American consumers and Canadian producers," and that his claim that it is environmentally unsound doesn't make a lot of sense since the alternative to the pipeline is oil being transported by rail which itself leads to greater carbon emissions. It isn't like people are going to stop using energy. much as the Luddite Left might wish otherwise.
Kenney would have been in his rights to drop the mic after this thorough dismantling of the former vice president, and maybe put videos of it up on all of his social media accounts, followed by a sufficiently antagonistic gif, like so:
But interfering in the politics of another country -- especially an ally -- is bad form, and of course it's possible that Kenney will have to work with (God help us) President Biden one of these days. Should that day arrive, perhaps Biden should take some diplomacy lessons from Alberta's premier.
Of course it would be even better if he learned a thing or two about major sectors of our economy before he decides to destroy them.
Alberta's Petrochemicals Protecting Canada
The collapse in oil prices combined with the virus and the lockdowns are hitting the Canadian province of Alberta extremely hard. Some are even predicting the worst economic contraction in its history. But I was glad to read in the Financial Post about one bright spot in the province's economy at the moment, its petrochemical sector which produces a variety of plastic products that are in high demand at the moment:
In 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would move to ban single-use plastics such as shopping bags, cutlery and straws to curb the proliferation of plastic waste in landfills and oceans. Now, in the middle of a public health crisis, the demand for plastic packaging has exploded. In Alberta’s oilpatch, ethane crackers used to make polyethylene film are among the only facilities that are busier today than before the pandemic knocked out global oil demand and led to hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil being shut in.
“The demand for plastic packaging has never been higher than it is right now,” said Bob Masterson, president and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, noting that the evidence of the huge demand for the industry’s products is plain at any grocery store in the country. Some grocery stores that had previously banned or started charging for plastic bags have eased those policies as workers are concerned about handling re-usable grocery bags. Acrylic plastic shields have been installed at tills to separate cashiers from shoppers, both of whom are wearing plastic gloves and masks in increasing numbers.... Masterson said the current crisis has led to “an absolute boom in the demand for packaging,” as grocery stores and consumers are wrapping food in plastic to prevent surface contamination of foods from the coronavirus.
Plastics, of course, aren't the only timely products produced by petrochemicals. Another is isopropyl alcohol:
I think it has shown some vulnerabilities in Canada’s supply chain,” Masterson said, noting that Shell Canada Ltd.’s Sarnia plant is the only producer of isopropyl alcohol in Canada, used to make alcohol-based cleaning products such as hand sanitizers. Shell president and CEO Michael Crothers said in a March 31 release the company would donate 125,000 litres of isopropyl alcohol, which is “approximately enough to create nearly one million 12-oz bottles of hand sanitizer for use in hospitals and medical facilities....
In Alberta, successive governments have implemented incentives designed to attract more petrochemical investment in an effort to diversify the province’s economy and build out the supply chain for hydrocarbon production. An incentive program introduced by former NDP premier Rachel Notley resulted in both Inter Pipeline Corp. and Pembina Pipeline Corp. spending $8.5 billion combined on under-construction polypropylene facilities, which will turn the province’s abundance of propane into plastic pellets used in a range of consumer goods.
The article notes that there is some question as to whether the industry will continue to boom once the pandemic and the lockdowns are over, and that is a real concern should the Greens return to form. The environmentalists are working hard to keep the "climate emergency" front and center, and even to link the two. But from where I sit, this pandemic definitively demonstrates the necessity of this industry, and the people talking about managing its decline are nuts.
Special Report: Environmentalist Credentials of Trudeau's Ministers & Staff
"Personnel is policy" goes the old saying (sometimes attributed to Reagan White House staffer Scott Faulkner), and there are few more valuable lessons for students of politics and government to learn.
In my feature last week about the Trudeau Government's reprehensible aid package for Canada's oil and gas industry, I made reference to the "borderline enviro-activists" currently serving in the prime minister's cabinet. Well, our crack team of researchers here at The Pipeline have actually been working away on a project documenting exactly how deeply embedded the environmentalist movement is in the Trudeau government, with a specific eye towards the work that government staffers have done before assuming their present positions.
Work like this might seem like extreme inside baseball, and in a sense it is. But you should not discount its importance. It is, in a word, invaluable. Knowing who is behind a politician is arguably more important than knowing the politician. Staffers are the gatekeepers; they control who their bosses are meeting, where they're going, what they're reading. They brief office holders on contentious issues, advise them on how particular votes will be interpreted in the press, and explain their decisions to the media afterwards.
Which is to say, knowing who they are and what they care about is essential, because their experience and interests directly effect policy.
Back in 2017, Justin Trudeau was speaking at a town hall event in Peterborough, Ont., and was asked about his government's decision to approve an extension to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which seemed in tension with his environmentalist commitments. He replied:
We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels but it’s going to take time and in the meantime we have to manage that transition.
This was widely considered to be a gaffe of the Kinsley variety, which is to say the type in which a politician "accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head." Trudeau was acknowledging that somewhere in that woolly brain of his is the desire to shut down Canada's oil sands, the backbone of Canada's western economy, and a key sector of the national economy as well.
The representatives of affected Canadians were compelled to respond. Rachel Notley, whose socialist New Democratic Party was enjoying a rare period in power in Alberta, said, “[Our] oil and gas industry and the people who work in it are the best in the world and we’re not going anywhere, any time soon.” Jason Kenney, who would replace Notley as premier two years later, asked whether Trudeau's "phase-out" meant "he wants to hand-over all global oil production to Saudi [Arabia], Iran, Qatar, et al?" Then-opposition leader Brian Jean replied, "If Mr. Trudeau wants to shut down Alberta's oil sands... he'll have to go through me and four million Albertans first." The pushback was such that eventually -- that is, more than a week later -- Trudeau walked back the comment, saying that he "misspoke," and that he had “said something the way I shouldn’t have said it.”
Fast forward to our present calamity, which has seen Canada's oil and gas industry pounded by a perfect storm consisting of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdowns on the one hand, and the Saudi/Russian production war on the other. Back in the middle of March, as the nature of these twin crises was becoming clear, news began to surface about Ottawa's proposed response.
The federal government is preparing a multibillion-dollar bailout package for Canada’s oil and gas sector that is expected to be unveiled early next week, sources say.... [G]overnment insiders are saying little about the details... but the oil and gas sector can expect to get more access to credit, especially for struggling small and medium-sized operations, and significant funding to create jobs for laid-off workers to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells.
One senior Alberta source said the province is expecting Ottawa to provide $15-billion in relief to an industry that has been hammered by the COVID-19 crisis and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that has cratered oil prices and energy-company stocks.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured the nation on March 25th that the government understood that "the energy sector is in a particularly challenging situation," and that the rumored bailout was imminent, not "weeks [but] hours, potentially days" away.
Well, not hours or days, but nearly a month later details of the relief package were made public, and they were underwhelming to say the least. Reports of a $15 billion package were off by almost an order of magnitude, as the actual package came to $1.7 billion, largely geared towards environmentalist priorities. Whereas oil and gas representatives had been asking mainly for new lines of credit and an easing of regulations, the actual package earmarked the vast majority of dollars for the remediation of abandoned oil wells and methane-gas emission reduction.
As Grant Fagerheim of Whitecap Resources put it, “This is not going to do anything... If this is as good as it gets, it will do very little or nothing to assist with operations for companies.”
What changed? Well, for one thing, the environmentalists got involved. Around the time of Morneau's pledge, a coalition of environmentalist groups wrote an open letter to Trudeau arguing against such a package, saying
"Giving billions of dollars to failing oil and gas companies will not help workers and only prolongs our reliance on fossil fuels."
They seem to have had an influence. As one oil executive observed to the National Post:
[T]he announcement appeared to adhere closely to Ottawa’s tendencies around environmental messaging, rather than addressing immediate concerns on private sector balance sheets. “I think they made the calculation that it would be politically unpalatable in Ontario and Quebec to provide direct supports to oil and gas."
Of course, Canada's environmentalist groups were elated and were quick to offer praise:
Josha McNabb of the clean-energy think tank Pembina Institute said well cleanups and methane reductions are good steps toward reorienting Canada’s economy toward a low-carbon future. “Those are types of things that are going to lead to an oil and gas sector that is more competitive because it’s cleaner, and also (develop) the kind of expertise that is going to be in demand,” she said.
Today, Prime Minister Trudeau made clear that Canada’s bailout package will prioritize addressing the climate crisis and building the cleaner, safer economy we need. This is the kind of leadership the world needs .… This bailout announcement is a major turning point for oil and gas politics in Canada.... [W]inding down the oil and gas industry [is] a hard, but necessary part of achieving [Canada's Paris Agreement climate] targets.
Of course, Trudeau's cabinet is itself brimming with borderline enviro-activists, including Catherine McKenna, Navdeep Bains, and Steven Guilbeault (the latter a full blown activist, who spent ten years with Greenpeace before running for office). None of them needs much pressure -- public or private -- to leave the resource sector out in the cold. No doubt when Morneau said that relief was "hours, possibly days" away, that was based on his perception of the negotiations as they stood at the time. Perhaps he was even trying to hurry his fellow ministers along. But he appears to have gotten ahead of his skis, and in the end the greenies won out.
“Just because we are in one crisis doesn’t mean we can forget about the other crisis, the climate crisis, that we’re facing as a world and as a country,” said Trudeau.
It must be mentioned that one request from the resource industry was included in the relief package, namely expanding credit availability for small and medium sized energy companies, and there has been talk of further assistance aimed at ensuring that the industry maintains liquidity. There's a good argument for such interventions -- since government ordered lockdowns are a major contributor to the industry's plight, it makes sense that the government would help shoulder the burden while oil and gas companies work their way through this. And it's worth noting that, as the energy sector has contributed more to the Canadian economy over the past 20 years than any other, a lot of that money comes from oil and gas to begin with.
Even so, the core of this package makes plain the Prime Minister's priorities. Weighted as heavily as it is toward capping off old wells, it serves mainly as an instruction to an ailing industry that it had better restructure itself with an eye towards closing up shop for good. Rahm Emmanuel famously advised Barack Obama in 2008 to never let a good crisis go to waste, and Trudeau and his ministers appear to have taken that to heart. Never mind that the resource sector makes up roughly 10 percent of the Canadian economy; that, as this pandemic has reminded us, it contributes the material to make personal protective equipment and ventilators; or that the Green Energy Industry on which they have pinned their hopes has been shown to be a sham. This is their moment. They will not let it pass.
Tory Insider to Western Canada: Drop Dead
Hey, here's a ridiculous article, by Tory insider Ken Boessenkool, writing for the parish newsletter of Canada's bi-partisan elite, Maclean's:
If Conservatives want to win another national government they are going to have to find ways to win critical seats in the suburban belt around Toronto—the 905, encompassing cities like Ajax, Brampton and Burlington. Harper swept the 905 for his majority in 2011 and the party has been on the outs ever since.
Can Conservatives win again in the 905? They cannot count on an assist from the NDP whose vote has dropped from 25 per cent in 2011 to around 10 per cent in each subsequent election. To win, Conservatives will have to increase their vote by attracting new cohorts of voters. In the last election, Conservatives centred their campaign around cutting taxes (eliminating the carbon tax), while the Liberals centred their campaign around climate change and cutting greenhouse gasses (sticking with their recently introduced carbon tax)....
Vote for us, the Conservatives said, and we’ll cut your taxes.
Vote for us, the Liberals said, and we will address climate change.
This worked wonders across western Canada, in rural Ontario, around Quebec City, and in a smattering of ridings in Atlantic Canada. But new polling for Clean Prosperity conducted by Conservative pollster Andrew Enns from Leger suggests climate change was a key reason why the Conservatives failed to gain ground in the 905.
So, in order to win back the Toronto suburbs, which Boessenkool readily admits the Conservatives won in 2011 because the socialist NDP split the vote with the Liberals (something they have failed to do since the death of their charismatic leader Jack Layton), the Tories will have to betray their voters out west (remember how they won 47 of the 48 seats between Saskatchewan and Alberta?).
This seems like questionable advice. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, goes the proverb, but Mr. Boessenkool begs to differ, based on some polling done by the carbon tax activist group Canadians for Clean Prosperity, which found that, 1) Canadians *love* the Carbon Tax, and 2) the only thing keeping them from voting Conservative is that party's support for Canadian oil and gas.
Amazing! That's exactly what the CBC have been saying all along! Canada is the one place in the world right now where there's no divide between elite and popular opinion! Who knew that Rosemary Barton had such a finger on the pulse of the persuadable voter?
This, in all seriousness, is garbage. The Tories have a lot of serious work to do if they want to build a winning coalition in the near future. Too much to go into in a blog post. But the idea that the secret to Tory domination is to join every other party in spitting on western Canada, which just made them the largest single party in the country, is insane. Mr. Boessenkool and Canadians for Clean Prosperity might find it appealing to try and save the Conservatives from their own voters, but that isn't going to win them any elections.
Luckily for western Canadians, Alberta premier Jason Kenney has thus far flouted elite opinion (including that of his deputy minister of Policy Coordination, Mark Cameron, formerly head of, er, Canadians for Clean Prosperity) and continued the fight against Trudeau's carbon tax. This past Monday saw him strike a major blow in that fight, when the Alberta Court of Appeal, in a 4-1 decision, found against the Federal Government and declared the carbon tax unconstitutional.
In the 269-page decision, Justices Catherine Fraser, Jack Watson and Elizabeth Hughes said, in part: "The division of powers remains key to our federal state. It is part of the fabric of Canada itself. The federal and provincial governments are co-equals, each level of government being supreme within its sphere. The federal government is not the parent; and the provincial governments are not its children." They go on to call the act "a constitutional Trojan horse," as it would set a precedent, allowing the federal government to impose almost any law it wished on Canadians.
The Appeals Courts of Ontario and Saskatchewan have previously sided with the Trudeau government's argument that the carbon tax isn't a tax at all, and falls within the federal government's regulatory authority.
So -- onward to the Supreme Court and good luck to Alberta!