Monday, April 16, 2018

Just Keep Pushing. Just a Little More, Justin.

Justin Trudeau erased any residual hope that he's more than a punk yesterday when, following a bizarre meeting with premiers Notley and Horgan, he announced that Ottawa will be using all of its financial and legislative powers to drive through the Trans-Mountain pipeline, British Columbia be damned.

I found Trudeau's bullying remarks infuriating but also just a tiny bit welcome because he's pushing us that much closer to the confederational breaking point. Dave Climenhaga recognized the blowback that may await Canada from Trudeau's clumsy, arrogant heavy-handedness when he wrote:

While we are not in a constitutional crisis now, any attempt to bypass the constitution to speed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline will likely result in one.
If that happens, I dare say, it will strengthen separatist sentiment in Quebec and possibly create it in British Columbia, and not without good reason. Long term, as has already been argued here, it may also provide a precedent for some future federal government to interfere in Alberta’s affairs in ways we do not much like.
If this is Trudeau's idea of the national interest, I have no interest in being part of his nation.  If his national interest extends to steamrollering the people of British Columbia and subjecting our territory and especially our coastal waters to the real possibility of irreparable environmental catastrophe, I have no interest in being part of that nation, the second-class part.

In today's Tyee, renowned energy scribe, Andrew Nikiforuk, writes of Canada's "destructive descent into petro-politics" and how Trudeau's pipeline brings Trumplandia to this sorry country. Trudeau may have put a gun to our heads but it's pointed at Canada's head too.
Canadians have long lived on the assumption that we’re decent people and that the political dysfunction unravelling the United States could never happen here.

But the ugly rhetoric pouring forth from Alberta, the media and federal politicians on Kinder Morgan’s calculated suspension of work on the Trans Mountain pipeline shows that both petro and retro politics have consumed much of the nation. 
The siren call of oil exports has also revealed our political class can be as swayed by lies, propaganda and extortion as any U.S. Republican. 
The scale of Canada’s petro-inspired nastiness, which is probably startling Europeans and American observers alike, requires a few illustrations. 
...Let’s start with Alberta’s belligerence. Petroleum is the devil’s excrement and dominates the province’s law and economy. 
Oil, the world’s most volatile and faithless commodity, hasn’t been kind to the province. It once provided the Alberta state with 30 per cent of its revenue and an excuse to lower taxes to win votes. Since 2015 lower oil prices combined with embarrassingly low royalties have dropped that revenue share to a painful eight per cent.  
Notley is now counting on anticipated revenue from an unbuilt pipeline to balance the province’s budget within the next five years. How’s that for living beyond your means? 
Oil, a political homogenizer, has constructed an Alberta First mentality as arrogant and thuggish as Russia’s petro-fuelled nationalism.

Alberta's Real Predicament, the Unmentionable reality.
...Alberta’s current predicament, the overproduction of bitumen, has long been foretold. 
A 2007 Bitumen Price Review warned Alberta’s government about “large dramatic price drops and recoveries” for bitumen. “Essentially there is a lack of adequate market access due to increasing production levels.” 
Because bitumen isn’t being refined into higher value goods such as gasoline, the government is “absorbing a higher share of price risk” due to price volatility, the review noted. 
The solutions — all rejected by the nation’s elites — include higher royalty rates, shutting in production or refining more bitumen at home. The Koch brothers, by the way, could give Alberta a few lessons on how to make a killing on “garbage crude” by upgrading and refining the stuff. 
Notley, a classic petro politician, now represents the resource and resource developers instead of her citizens. Her government, which could introduce a sales tax but won’t, has no plan for the over-production crisis other than blaming B.C.

The Two Faces of Jon Horgan.
Let’s now deal with the “leftist” and “dangerous” government of Premier John Horgan. According to Alberta’s media, Horgan has challenged the rule of law and defied the Constitution by seeking advice on bitumen spills and supporting an entirely legitimate and ordinary challenge to a pipeline in the courts. 
But Horgan, a practitioner of retro politics, is no climate change leader, fossil fuel hater or Constitution breaker. Like the previous BC Liberal government, Horgan believes taxpayers should subsidize LNG projects with generous tax breaks and continue industrializing northeastern B.C. with a record amount of hydraulic fracturing. Nor does Horgan apparently care if LNG exports make provincial climate targets impossible to achieve. 
...Horgan’s opposition to the Kinder Morgan project hinges on his party’s minority status. He remains in power as long as the Green Party keeps him there, and the Greens don’t think uneconomic pipelines are a good way to fight climate change
Horgan also knows that he can’t win the next election if he alienates voters in half a dozen NDP-held ridings along the pipeline route in the Lower Mainland by becoming a pipeline cheerleader.

The Floundering Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has painted himself into a black corner of his own making. 
As a consequence the Janus-faced former drama teacher now lectures the great classroom of Canada that the project must go ahead because Canada can only fight climate change by building pipelines. 
If we took Trudeau at his word and applied his morality to everyday life, we’d all smoke more to end lung cancer, eat more to end obesity and drink more to end alcoholism. 
It is a convenient morality for a drama teacher who doesn’t know what drama he is in.
Trudeau’s wacky defence of Kinder Morgan can be traced to a backroom dealmade with Notley on addressing climate change. She promised to consider supporting a national climate plan, but only if Trudeau gave her a pipeline — a kind of carbon tit for tat. 
To secure that deal Trudeau had to break another promise he made to British Columbians. During the election campaign he said the NEB hearings on the pipeline expansion, a process fraught with scandal and bias, would be redone.

...Trudeau won the federal election, in part, by promising to address these travesties. He didn’t. 
As a result nearly 300 anti-pipeline protesters have been arrested to date. Thousands more are prepared to defend the citizens of Burnaby, orcas, property values, truth, freedom, water and salmon. First Nations are leading this fight and another Oka is in the making. 
Trudeau’s cozy relationship with the authoritarian Chinese government has made his pipeline corner smaller. 
Han Jun, China’s vice-minister of financial and economic affairs, said in 2016 that the worlds second-largest economy would sign a free trade agreement with Canada — but only if Canada built a pipeline to the West Coast.

The Constant Bullshit about National Unity.
Meanwhile a U.S. company, the bastard child of Enron, has become a symbol of the national interest. 
That version of the national interest is tied to a big lie still being repeated by politicians of all stripes. They falsely claim that the pipeline will secure higher prices for bitumen in Asian markets. 
A recent story in Reuters sets the record straight on this falsehood. 
The global market sets discounts and premiums on types of oil based on quality. Mexican Maya crude — a product as junky as heavy bitumen — sold at a $6.15 discount to customers on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and a $9.40 discount to customers in Asia.

Trudeau and the Trump Factor.
In the end Canada’s crazy petro politics read like a global morality tale. 
We know that we cannot continue to extract fossil fuels, spend and consume without bringing ruin to our children and civilization as we now live it. 
We know that we must conserve and save and pursue another course. 
Yet oil, a commodity that invites aggression like a Russian drunk, knows no limits or borders. 
Besotted by oil, lies and political ambition, the nation’s political class has collectively turned into a snarling pack of Donald Trumps.

Do You Feel Lucky? Well, Do Ya Punk?

Trudeau is playing with fire and the Liberal rank and file had better ask themselves if they're okay with that. Do they think this high-handed, man/boy prime minister is doing anything to bolster national unity? Better yet, do they think his Liberal government can win a second term?

As a Green Party member, I am delighted that our small, grossly under-represented party, has had so much influence in this pipeline at both the provincial and the national levels. Imagine what we could do if only we had electoral reform?


Owen Gray said...

What we are witnessing is a rush into a cul de sac.

Toby said...

"Han Jun, China’s vice-minister of financial and economic affairs, said in 2016 that the worlds second-largest economy would sign a free trade agreement with Canada — but only if Canada built a pipeline to the West Coast."

Is that what's driving Trudeau?

The Mound of Sound said...

It does feel that way, Owen.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's hard to tell, Toby.

the salamander said...

into the cul de sac rushed the 500
on again on again went the 500
into the Valley of Death drove the 500
astride their war rhinos
(from Kipling I believe)

This what I used to describe as trying a full reverse Morman inverted with tail grab and twist.. but now thanks to a twitter wag I read.. I just call it 'full racoon' (and apologies to the masked marauders of our green box) fail to stick the landing.. but high points for technical difficulty.. not much for execution.. where do these people come from.. ? One step from the exalted air of Fath Goldy

The political sellout, sold out full capture front somersault is astonishing - a full nine from the Russian judge - 9.5 from the Chinese judge. I live in an environment of total disbelief. Who are these asshats.. and I thought Justin a pretty boy and Ms McKenna photogenic and so damn earnest sounding.. They belong in the same sack that Jason Kenney inhabits.. the kind of sack you stuffed your cats into and took to the rabies clinic in Hillsburg Ontario. Veterinarians drilling cats with a needle got tired of the clawing, spitting, wriggling and the runaway squirmers racing madly around the arena with a needle jutting from their hip.. so just bag them, we can inject through the barley bag.. and get em back to the barn.. All done.. & for dogs, its 'over Rover' & here come the needle while you snubbed by a leash..

They off on some mad ass 'money for nothing and chicks for free' Dire Sraits policy.. Like we can do ANYTHING as long as we do some kerflip kerflop the next day to change the channel.. again... ooh the wonderous opportunity presented by the eternal grin of Andrew Scheer (the horror)

The Mound of Sound said...

I regret, Sal, that this turmoil may benefit Scheer. I would prefer every Liberal held riding go to the NDP or, better yet, my Greens. To me, on this issue, I fail to see any daylight between Trudeau and Scheer.

the salamander said...

.. looks to me like the NDP have lost interest.. or went 'walkabout'.. lost in some strange political space land. They may have suffered a political head injury.. we just don't know.. they are in a lost n found bin somewhere's. Yes yes the guy in the huge turban.. with gushing flowery hippie talk.. but the bedrock of the NDP party seems MIA - Missing In Action.. or is it just that Andrew Scheer, the westerner from Ottawa, and the young middle aged Trudeau are sucking up all the oxygen.. the Greens need to lesrn to forecheck.. have highly credible exemplars in all ridings.. and sharp message.. and work the mainstream media.. which like to be spoon fed.. so spoon feed them

Anonymous said...

Let's just say the Greens need to work, period. A party that can't keep its website up to date isn't trying.


The Mound of Sound said...

I complained to them about that months ago, Cap. I agree it's worrying.

Anonymous said...

Yep. When you can't even do website macrotargetting, it's going to be hard to compete with Lib and Con microtargetting (let's not forget which party hired Chris Wylie).