|Passing the Petro-Torch|
It was the day on which the Harper government was forced to back down on exporting Quebec asbestos to the backward countries abroad still willing to expose their people to its cancerous ways.
Harper wasn't inclined to do the right thing. He defended asbestos trafficking as a problem those importing countries brought upon themselves. It wasn't up to us to tell them what to do.
I guess the tipping point was that the public understood the lethal connection between asbestos and fatal diseases, especially lung cancer. Many had seen the specialists in their coveralls and respirators toiling with the utmost care to remove asbestos insulation from the pipes and ducts of major buildings. They even vacuumed up after themselves to ensure nothing was left behind. We were there when asbestos was no longer allowed to be used in our cars' brake pads.
We knew the dangers of asbestos and so it was easy to imagine the vulnerable people in poorer countries being unwittingly exposed to it and we didn't have the stomach for our Canada inflicting that horrible fate on defenceless people abroad.
What was asbestos anyway? It was a resource. Harper wanted to get a Canadian resource to "tidewater" and then well and truly clear of Canada.
At the end of the day even someone as insulated from the will of Canadians and basic human decency ran the numbers, realized asbestos was laden with too many domestic political negatives and folded his hand. Don't ever imagine Harper did it because it was the right thing to do for Canada or for the world. He did it because it was the necessary thing to do for Stephen J. Harper.
Now we've got a new government, a more kinder, caring government - or so we're told ad nauseum. Only, on the big issues, it's really not that much different than the thoroughly despised bunch we just sent packing.
Like Harper, Trudeau isn't much inclined to do the right thing. He defends bitumen trafficking. What is bitumen anyway? It's a resource. Trudeau wants to get a "Canadian resource" to "tidewater" and then on to eager buyers overseas.
One big difference. We knew the danger of asbestos. We knew it because it was in our buildings and our cars and in our ships and in our refineries and factories. We had felt its lash and so we knew what we were inflicting on those people whose unprincipled governments and unscrupulous companies were buying the stuff.
We don't understand bitumen the same way. That's because climate change impacts aren't universal. They're not spread around evenly. We're a northern country where the life and death impacts are muted - for now at least. We don't live in the equatorial and tropical zones where those life and death impacts are here, now, and are causing suffering, dislocation and death even in today's early onset stage. And so it's easy for us to look the other way, far easier than it was for asbestos. Only the death and suffering caused by these high-carbon fossil fuels is increasing and incredibly persistent. That bitumen we export today will be taking innocent lives for 150-years, even more. People who won't be born for another three or four generations will endure that lash. That simply doesn't compute for New Democrats like Notley or Liberals like Trudeau or for most of their supporters.
A change of government did not mean a change of petro-politics in Canada which remains very much a petro-state. The Trudeau government is every bit as dedicated as Harper ever was to boosting the extraction and export of the world's filthiest (abrasives, corrosives, heavy metals, acids, carcinogens, pet coke) unconventional petroleum and he's going to push through hazmat pipelines until he gets this death fuel to "tidewater."
This is one of those issues in which you have to make a choice. You either have to be on the side of the future or the side of the fossil fuelers. No matter how hard Trudeau tries to pretend you can accommodate both you can't. His schoolmarm logic doesn't trump science.
The science, which we've been repeatedly assured his government would follow unlike that nasty, manipulative Harper, is clear. Equally clear is that all those comforting assurances were nothing more than hollow lies.
Bring it on, Justin. We're not done yet.