In Canada, Between a Sponge and a Soft Place

Ottawa’s orchestrated vendetta against Canada’s energy sector, located primarily in the province of Alberta, is an instance of sublime indifference to the laws of physics, the math behind energy realities, Canadian living standards and the national welfare. It is part and parcel of the campaign to bring Canada in line with the U.N.’s anti-capitalist, globalist wealth-transfer program advantaging the Third World—in actual fact, benefiting only the ruling class of these nations.

And it is, of course, a scheme for enriching investors and "green" industrialists for whom the Green Technology adventure has become a government-fed cash cow, abetted by public gullibility and self-righteousness. Conservative Alberta is now at risk of bankruptcy. 

(Wikipedia).

Canada’s great conservative thinker, George Grant, wrote in Lament for a Nation that "Canada was predicated on the rights of nations as well as on the rights of individuals.” He might also have written “the rights of provinces.” The book’s subtitle, The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, bespeaks Grant’s abiding fear that the country had forgotten its conservative origin in communal solidarity and had sold its future to a managerial elite wedded to the notion of unmitigated “progress.”

A devout traditionalist, Grant was skeptical of unrestrained capital markets and of what he called, in Technology & Justice, “technological ontology.” Liberals—and some Conservatives—consider him out of touch with modernity, a throwback to a pre-modern age. But his emphasis on individual responsibility and commitment to the values of truth and justice remain the core of conservative thinking. In the “Afterword” to Lament, his widow recalls one of Grant’s “simplest statements: ‘It always matters what each of us does.’”

Modern Canadian conservatism owes much to Alberta-born Preston Manning, founder of the Reform Party, which was succeeded by the Canadian Alliance and ultimately by the Conservative Party of Canada. As articulated in his The New Canada, Manning believed in fiscal prudence, the need to control the deficit and to live within our means, in doing away with redistributive economics and progressive taxation and relying instead on market forces and job creation. He believed in the reduction of federal power and in the provincial management of political and economic responsibilities. For advocating such ideas, Manning said, “We were called everything under the sun, from fascists to traitors to racists.” How such a sensible and mature platform can be condemned as “far right,” extremist, or as some sort of nascent fascism boggles the mind. 

Preston Manning (Wikipedia).

Manning understands energy and its crucial importance to priming the engine of prosperity, facilitating job creation and strengthening the Canadian economy across the board. He urges provincial cooperation to “put enormous pressure on the Federal government to get pipeline rights of way to both the Pacific and the Atlantic.” In his new book Do Something!: 365 Ways You Can Strengthen Canada Manning writes: “[W]e need unobstructed transportation corridors to the Atlantic, Pacific and the Arctic to move our resources to tidewater and world markets. We need a federal government that’s supportive of these kinds of measures rather than one that obstructs.”

Manning is also deeply concerned about the corrosive prospect of growing Western alienation. “The problems with the energy sector,” which he lays at Ottawa’s door, “and the inability to get resources to tidewater and world markets are all fueling Western alienation.” He is right. Wexit is picking up momentum and Wexit Canada is now an official political party.

Former Conservative PM Stephen Harper (aka “Harperman,” as the socialist rabble and environmental scientist Tony Turner maligned him) was often tarred as “far right” for his fiscal prudence (which steered us through the 2008 financial meltdown) when, to be accurate, he was a “conservative centrist” some of whose policies—maintaining high immigration rates from Muslim countries, or refusing to re-open the abortion debate—consorted with Liberal positions. Some have criticized him, too, as being somewhat ambivalent on the oil patch, neglecting to build a sufficient pipeline distribution network. Harper did not govern as effectively as he could have, but as a trained economist he understood the industry that contributed massively to the country’s prosperity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is leading Canada to an Argentinian-type default and economic collapse, setting his sights on net-zero in more ways than one, is no friend of George Grant, Preston Manning or Stephen Harper; he is much closer to his father’s socialist influence Harold Laski, who was Pierre Trudeau’s mentor at the London School of Economics. Laski held that capitalism inevitably led to internal contradictions, economic crashes and depressions, and proposed the socialist control of natural resources and property to be shared by all of society’s stakeholders.

Harold Laski (1893 - 1950), circa 1940.

The predictable irony, of course, endemic to all socialist regimes, is the splintering of society into warring interest groups, the eventual imposition of top-down single party rule, and the disintegration of a common culture once based on historical precedent and loyalty to one’s neighbor. As we see in the Western world today—Canada is no exception—the sense of unity has been replaced by entitlement categories like ethnicity, race, gender, creed, class and selective political persuasion.

Indeed, in opposition to Grant’s sense of national unity, which inspired both Manning and Harper, Trudeau has stated that Canada is a “post-national state” that has no “core identity.” A country that has no core identity is not a country preoccupied with issues of national unity and the economic foundation on which it rests. Trudeau is not interested in the oil patch but in the national patchwork. He is an outright socialist—perhaps Marxist is a better term—and an aspiring globalist who lusts for a seat in the United Nations’ bloated hierarchy

Notwithstanding his sentimental effusions about the country he leads, Trudeau is, to put it bluntly, anti-Canadian, and his animus against the energy sector and the economic stability it provides is par for the course. Like a good Marxist, he is busy steering the nation into monumental debt and abject penury. Tex Leugner, one of the lay leaders of the Wexit movement and editor of the ActionAlberta newsletter, is very clear on this. “Each day,” he writes, “Canada loses between $80 and $100 million because of the failure of our Federal Government to allow pipelines to be built. At this rate, over the next 12 months that amount could balloon to as much as $36.5 billion lost to the Canadian economy! As this money is lost, our Federal debt continues to increase.” And that’s only for starters. Statistics Canada reveals that the “poverty gap” under Trudeau has grown—in figures for 2018, two years before he had a chance to do even more damage. 

The question now, following the election of the waffly Erin O’Toole to the Conservative Party leadership, is whether the Conservatives can be counted on to pursue a sane, nation-restoring agenda. O’Toole is committed to net-zero emission by 2050; if he ran an online journal, it might be called The Pipedream. Indeed, he has just signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement in a doomed attempt to out-Trudeau Trudeau. Considering that there is no hard scientific evidence that the globe is warming, that the U.S. as major signatory has pulled out of the Accord, and that, in any case, China and India, the world’s largest polluters, have no intention of reducing emissions, the Agreement is not worth the paper it is written on, though it will cost its adherents dearly. O’Toole is merely virtue-signaling for electoral purposes. 

The only leadership candidate reliably true to the tradition of Grant and Manning was Derek Sloan, who may find himself cast into outer darkness for, among other things, voicing justifiable suspicion of Canada’s chief health minister Theresa Tam’s loyalties. Hong Kong-born Tam was all over the map in her COVID recommendations, hewing closely to the China-inspired line of the World Health Organization while sitting on one of its prestigious boards.  

Justin & son.

The fact that she happens to be Chinese was (and is) irrelevant, but it was enough to generate accusations of racism from the Asian community and from Conservative MPs Gordon Chong and Pam Demoff. “[T]he Conservative Party that I know does not stand for this kind of garbage,” Chong blustered. Demoff for her part accused Sloan of “racism, misogyny, and bigotry.” The attempt to “cancel” Sloan and destroy his political career is evidence, once again, of how easily people can be duped into taking offence at reasonable skepticism—or how cynical they can be in trying to score political points. I have indicated in a previous article for The Pipeline that Tam’s behavior was highly dubious, lying about the mode of viral transmission and even removing vital information from airport message screens regarding flights from China into the country. O’Toole has not come to the defense of Sloan and is cannily playing the popularity game, which seems to make him, at best, a Diet Conservative. 

Clearly, the Conservative Party has some trouble aligning itself with true-blue conservatism represented by a genuinely conservative politician like Sloan, an upholder of traditional usages and institutions, a stringent anti-socialist, a Canadian patriot, and a vigorous supporter of the energy industry. Alberta is where the country’s energy resides. Sloan is where the Party’s energy lies. It is by no means surprising that both have come under the shadow of repudiation. 

Erin O'Toole (left).

There can be no doubt that a mushy O’Toole would make a better Prime Minister than a spongy Trudeau, but this does not change the fact that Canada’s two major energy fields have been suffering catastrophically and, barring a miracle, will likely continue to do so. One field is obviously the oil/gas/pipeline sector, which is in process of being phased out. The other is Canada’s political energy zone, presumably a national endowment, which has been going increasingly woke. With these two sources of revivifying energy—generated power and political intelligence-and-integrity—seemingly moribund, Canada would have little future to speak of.

Conservative Energy, or Canada at the Crossroads

Now that scandal-prone Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating has taken something of a hit, placing the Conservatives at least potentially within striking distance of forming the next government, the question that confronts Canada is whether a Conservative administration could honestly face the shambles that the Liberal government has made of Canada’s most important resource industry, energy production. Would it rescue the energy sector, located primarily in the province of Alberta, from its dormant condition and, at the same time, render unnecessary the budding secessionist, or Wexit, movement in a justifiably resentful Alberta, thus saving Confederation? 

The platform of the newly-elected leader of the Party, Erin O’Toole, seems at first blush encouraging for the energy sector and Alberta’s future prospects, but O’Toole is a noted flip-flopper—not particularly good news for either energy or Alberta. As John O’Sullivan writes in The Pipeline:

O'Toole has been all over the place on the resource sector, initially calling for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies…before backing away from that pledge.

How O’Toole can claim in his platform that “Climate Change is a global problem, that requires a global solution,” while at the same time stating that “Domestic energy production – including oil and gas – is an important part of making our country more self-reliant and more resilient in future” remains a conundrum. Which is noise and which is information? In other respects, his platform seems promising, but the jury will be out for some time. 

A pumpjack in a canola field keeps the lights on.

Leslyn Lewis, whose strong finish in the leadership sweepstakes may earn her a shadow cabinet position, has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto—one of the country’s notoriously woke institutions with little professional stature—where actual climate science yields to a highfalutin iteration of cultural studies. It is, according to its mission statement, “a community that respects and values insight, creativity, justice, and diversity,” but leaves real science at a discount. Although lauded for her environmental expertise, Lewis, as a graduate of Environmental Studies, is a mere dilettante in the field. She has taken many principled social and political stands, but regrettably understands neither energy nor economics.

With the exception of failed leadership candidate Derek Sloan, who is pro-life, a believer in family and parental rights, emphatically anti-socialist, and a muscular supporter of the energy industry—and who is in danger of being expelled from the Caucus on the ludicrous grounds of  “racism, misogyny, and bigotry”—the Conservative Party as a whole, to this point in time, has been more or less devoid of positive initiatives.

Indeed, it appears to have forgotten its founding principles, as adumbrated by Canada’s great conservative thinker George Grant in Lament for a Nation: love of country, the rule of law, civil responsibility, an enduring moral order, freedom of speech, economic prudence, and restraint upon the sweeping exercise of government authority. Unfortunately, conservatism and the Conservative Party in its current incarnation do not always speak the same language. Whether O'Toole represents an answer to the Party’s dilemma remains to be seen.  

Erin, go bragh.

Meanwhile, Alberta is still holding the short end of the stick. It is for the first time in living memory a have-not province. After sending $630 billion in transfer payments to Quebec and the other provinces since 1961, it has received a federal transfer supplement (or so-called equalization payment) of $22 billion for 2020, misnamed as a “net gain.” This is total nonsense.

To begin with, in the current economic context $22 billion is a mere sop; moreover, the supplement is borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest as part of the $350 billion Canada is borrowing for this year.

Ottawa is not re-distributing domestic wealth to disadvantaged provinces, as envisioned in the national Equalization Formula, but transferring borrowed wealth. Things need to be called by their proper names. Alberta’s $22 billion does not qualify as a “net gain” but a net liability. Wexit does seem to be the only hope for Alberta, whether as a bargaining chip or a realized outcome, but the trouble is that there are too many Canadians and not enough Albertans in the province. 

A sane reclamation of the energy sector will be a difficult slog—not least because an acceptable conservative in leftist Canada, as geologist John Weissenberger writes in The Laurentian ‘Elite’: Canada’s Ruling Class, is “one who can be counted on to lose gracefully”—but Canada will reap the whirlwind in scuppering the energy industry and bankrupting Alberta in the process. Energy is gold and it resides mainly in Canada’s west. 

It will take a surge of conservative energy to restore the country to its former viability. If Erin O’Toole remains true to his commitment to revive domestic energy production, without equivocation, the future may not be entirely dismal. Perhaps we will see a strong pushback by patriotic organizations intent on restoring the energy sector. The threat of Wexit may help to awaken a sleepy Canadian electorate, who may also be galvanized by mounting unemployment, rocketing prices, extortionate taxes, social anarchy and a failing power grid. But by then it may well be too late.

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.

But one thing that makes Canada unique is the shame that its governing elite feels about one of the pillars of its economy. As Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable Energy said the other day in an excellent piece on Erin O'Toole's environmentalist pitch in the CPC leadership contest,

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.