Sunday, March 06, 2016

TorStar and Trudeau, is a Clash Inevitable?

It's hard not to think of the Toronto Star as a notch above any other daily newspaper in Canada. It's not a great paper. People in other countries don't speak of it reverentially but it's a damned sight better than The Globe & Mail, the now terminal PostMedia remnants and the rest. People who wail and gnash their teeth over the demise of these newspapers need to accept the fact that they're bloody awful and have, if anything, pursued their fate.

During Harper's term, Hollinger/CanWest/PostMedia was a shameless cheerleader for its home team, the Conservatives. Cheerleader? No, 'whore' is more befitting and they were busy whoring right up until election day.

With Harper dispatched, one might have expected The Star to come out as the fawning champion of everything Trudeau. There was some of that, inevitably, but the paper seems to understand that its job is as watchdog of government, not government lapdog, no matter who holds the levers of power.

Which was why I enjoyed Thomas Walkom's candour in weighing the failure that was the fledgling prime minister's first attempt to wrestle his provincial counterparts into a climate change deal:

Canada is still not on the road to reach the carbon reduction targets called for by last year’s Paris climate summit.

It is not even on the road to meet the far less ambitious targets set out by Canada’s former Conservative government.

When all of the rhetoric is stripped away, Thursday’s Vancouver Declaration, the somewhat grandiose document summing up the one-day session, demonstrates only that any fault lines existing before this conference still hold.

There is no overall agreement to use so-called carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which is what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wanted.

There is only agreement to contemplate carbon pricing as one in a “broad range of domestic measures … adapted to each province’s and territory’s specific circumstances.”

In other words, the first ministers have agreed to continue to disagree. Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia are fine with carbon pricing, either in the form of a direct tax on greenhouse gas emissions or a cap and trade system that financially penalizes those who emit more than is allowed.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall still resists, pointing out that carbon pricing in either form eventually translates into higher costs for those who use fossil fuels. (Indeed, that’s the point of it.)

...In short, no one has shifted. They all say, as they did before Thursday’s meeting, that climate change must be confronted.

They all say, as they did before the meeting, that Canada must use this opportunity to move toward a greener economy.

Yet they provide no specifics on how to get there. Nor are there specifics on the targets that must be set for the reduction of greenhouse gases if a climate change disaster is to be averted.

In opposition, Trudeau’s Liberals derided as inadequate the carbon reductions promised by then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s governing Conservatives. In Paris last year, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna referred to the Harper target as a “floor.”

But there is no indication from this meeting that anyone is willing to move above the floor.

Somewhere, I expect, Stephen Harper is having a giggle. Let's be honest, carbon pricing is a means not an end. It will not, of itself, cut emissions. At best it may dampen demand for fossil fuels. At worst it's merely gestural and, because of that, it's perfect for those who are fighting a rearguard action against serious emissions cuts.

Then again, what did we expect from Junior? After all, this is the same guy who dismissed the armoured war wagons Canada is selling to Saudi Arabia as little more than "jeeps."


Northern PoV said...

As discussed in the earlier thread here, the Saudis are (in self interest) almost singlehandedly killing off 'unconventional oil' with bitumen at the top of the list of unprofitable oil extraction alchemy. They will attempt to sell all their (relatively) 'clean oil' before the ff industry gets shut down or just collapses.

New pipelines, LNG (and other fracking nightmares) will not get built if reason prevails. If they do get built, these money losing vampires will suck tax dollars till the cows come home.

The Mound of Sound said...

I share your fears, NPoV, that we'll pay a huge price for these pipeline fantasies.

rumleyfips said...

Even the sketchiest due dilligence will keep investors away from the bankruptsy magnet that is Energy east. Once the application is rubber stamped and the money men run and hide the demand for government cash will be long and loud.

The same thing must be in the works at Irving. They can't refine Alberta's finest but they may want a couple of billion government funding to build an upgrader. I can hear the howls of outrage from Brad and Ezra from here.