Andrew Nikiforuk is Canada's top journalist on the subject of oil politics. The author and veteran scribe for The Tyee has a piece on Justin Trudeau in Foreign Policy magazine.
Nikiforuk's take is that, for all Trudeau's environmental-conscious pretensions, he's still "hooked on dirty oil." He writes that the Fort McMurray firestorm forced Trudeau out into the open.
The unfolding horror show caught the young government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an interesting juncture. Unlike his predecessor, Stephen Harper — an ideologue who championed pipelines, muzzled climate change scientists, and attacked environmentalists with malice — Trudeau has changed the tone. He ended the censorship of scientists and personally played a prominent role at the recent Paris COP21 conference on climate change. But he has not yet departed from Harper’s “drill, baby, drill” national narrative. He now promotes oil-export pipelines and wind farms in the same sentence — a sort of political schizophrenia. Contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence, Trudeau acts as though sunny rhetoric on curbing emissions will somehow win more markets for what has become an uneconomic crude. At current oil prices, most oil sand miners are bleeding cash.
Canada is home to a third of the world’s great boreal forest. It supplies Canadians with $700 billion worth of life-supporting services each year and remains one of the world’s important climate and water regulators. Yet the hotter and drier it gets, the more easily it will succumb to fire, disease, and insects. As early as 2003, Canadian forestry experts made the inconvenient prediction that “it is unlikely that there will be sufficient resources to respond to increasing fire.” This, of course, all came to pass in the ashes of Fort McMurray.
Thanks to unchecked growth and the lack of a national carbon plan, forest-drying emissions from the nation’s oil and gas sector recently surpassed those of Canada’s immense transportation sector. Moreover, despite historically low oil prices, the industry now wants to double production, which would worsen emission trends. As a consequence, the oil sands and their climate-denying supporters have become an almost unmovable boulder on the road to constraining national carbon emissions. The project’s scale also explains why federal promises, made in 2006 to reduce Canadian emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and 65 percent by 2050, have all come to naught.
"There is no way Canada can come close to meeting its greenhouse gas targets by expanding bitumen production,” says David Schindler, one of Canada’s top scientists. Simply put, there’s no way Trudeau can make a dent in climate change without limiting — and then shrinking — Canada’s chief carbon-maker.
Canada’s fading oil sands boom is a cautionary tale on the madness of crowds and the greed of politicians. By rushing development to take advantage of high oil prices, the industry and complicit government regulators exaggerated benefits, ignored carbon risks, lowered taxes, and saved hardly a dime.
I'm sorry for all my former Liberal comrades who believed they were finally getting progressive leadership in the form of the son of Pierre Trudeau. I'm sorry but you were had. By now there's no doubt that Justin was flying a false flag. He resembles Stephen Harper a hell of a lot more than he resembles Pierre whether it's the Saudi death wagon deal, the Tory's BDS censure resolution, preservation of the surveillance state, climate change, the Tar Sands and even his feckless bungling of the assisted death legislation.
On the other hand I expect there are plenty of Conservatives who are pretty happy with how this new premiership is turning out.