There is a certain sense of Alanis Morissette irony in watching two NDP provincial governments bicker over oil pipeline approvals. Alberta on the one hand is trying to defend the construction of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline for economic and employment reasons, and British Columbia is trying to stop the pipeline to protect their Pacific coast for ecological and cultural reasons. When the right wing flow of Big Oil money hits the left turning paddle wheel of environmental ideology, the NDP provincial grist mill grinds to a halt. Well, if you won’t pipeline our AB oil, we won’t drink your BC wine!
So much for left of centre eco-governance. Well, unless we look to the recent statements of national NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. At the latest federal NDP gathering, he said that his fight wasn’t with the two feuding NDP provincial premiers, rather: “My fight is with the Prime Minister who promised to overhaul our environmental assessment process.” At the same time, he also endorsed the Leap Manifesto. An endorsement that left British Columbia smiling and Alberta stuck in the tar sands.
The Manifesto, spearheaded by Stephen Lewis’ son, Avi, and Naomi Klein, calls for an overhaul of the capitalist economy to wean the country quickly off fossil fuels. While Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was telling delegates that pipelines are crucial to revive Alberta’s resource-based economy, among other things, the federal manifesto calls for no new pipelines. The “Leap” is really a reworking of then Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s “Green Shift” – a quest to move Canada from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy. Lest we forget, that put the federal Liberals into an election that saw the party abandon Dion faster than the Ontario PCs dumped Patrick Brown. And that led to eight years of the Harper regime.
Fast forward to the federal Liberals of today, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also caught between the sticky bitumen and a hard place, trying to defend his mantra of environmental sustainability and economic security balanced peacefully in a consensual partnership. The problem is that the male economics of Big Oil have a long history of abusing the female ecosystems of Earth, and the environment is now saying “Me Too!”
Jagmeet Singh is absolutely correct; the Prime Minister seems to have forgotten a promise to clean out the National Energy Board of its Harper era appointees, and replace the pipeline approval process with a scientific fact-based analysis involving full participation from all local communities, particularly First Peoples. A promise broken is a trust lost, as the young protester at a BC Town Hall scrum recently reminded the PM. To which he angrily responded, “Really?” And had the protester removed.
Yes, “Really!” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You made all of Canada a promise. Now either act like a statesman and keep that promise, or behave like a politician and spin it. But you can’t defend approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline with the current flawed process. Nor can you trust a company that has accumulated over $160,000,000 million in environmental violation fines over the last decade alone with the responsibility of protecting the ecological integrity of the planet’s north west Pacific coastline.
How can we do business with a company that states, on the record, oil spills “can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies,” because of the economic benefits related to clean-up efforts. “Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers.” Really? That’s sort of like trusting Dick Cheney and his Halliburton Corporation with rebuilding Iraq after the U.S.A. destroyed it while looking for non-existent weapons of mass destruction. War, like an oil spill, is good for business; it’s not personal.
However, dear bickering and back-sliding politicians, it’s personal for those of us not on the next Elon Musk trip to a space colony. For 99.9% of us, there is no Planet B. Either make the Green Shift and Leap into a new energy paradigm, or get off the pulpit of false prophets. Either begin the smooth transition to a renewable energy economy, or planet Earth will make the decision for us.
Canada cannot stand on the world stage and pretend to be a productive part of the Paris Accord at the same time it is defending the construction of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline under the current skewed National Energy Board review and approval process.
Our children and our communities are asking that same old question of commitment just like the woman in the Meatloaf song, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, asked,
“What’s it gonna be boy? I gotta know right now! Before we go any further, Do you love me? Will you love me forever?”
Yes, or No – we need to know right now.
Skid Crease, Caledon