Saturday, September 01, 2018

Coyne Takes Junior to the Woodshed

Even diehard Liberals should be able to admit Andrew Coyne has a couple of points in his retrospective of Trudeau's septum horribilis.

...the middle ground in politics can be as treacherous as it is inviting; the two extremes can as easily combine to devour any moderate interlopers as they can be separately marginalized. To hold that particularly dangerous piece of turf it is not sufficient to remind folks of your sunny benevolence, or repeat endless variations on “the economy and the environment go hand in hand.” You have to be both tactically smart and strategically wise. You have to think it through. 
This last is not, needless to say, the current generation of Liberals’ strong point. They are very good at the symbolic gesture, the leap of faith, the exuberant tossing of one’s hat over the wall. They are not so good at figuring out how to retrieve it. And so, on issues ranging from pipelines to carbon taxes to trade negotiations, the Liberals’ once-soaring pride has given way to a gathering awareness of the earth below. It turns out governing isn’t as simple as it appears, even for those seemingly born to it. 
The mishandling of each is by now familiar. On pipelines, the Liberals first allowed the options to dwindle to one; then signalled such desperation that the last option, the Trans Mountain extension, be built that they were obliged to pay its private-sector sponsor several billion dollars to take it off its hands; only to discover, thanks to this week’s Federal Court of Appeal ruling, that they had no lawful authority to build it, having failed to engage in the same meaningful consultation with Aboriginal groups they had demanded of the previous government, and had made such a show of promising themselves.

On carbon taxes, the Liberals had seemed, in the heady first months of office, to lure the provinces into the trap they had set for them, wherein the latter would impose the tax on their behalf, keeping the revenues in return. Alas, they failed to secure the acquiescence of the public, who would after all be the source of those revenues, mistaking popular support for the bromide that “something must be done” about the environment with the lesser-known “and I should be the one to pay for it.”
...Still, the Liberal balancing act is in serious jeopardy. With no pipeline, a carbon tax will be an even harder sell, and with no meaningful progress on climate change critics of the pipeline will be emboldened anew. 
Instead of doing both, the Liberals may be left with neither, alone and under fire on the no-man’s-land that was once the middle ground.
Coyne's rebuke is going to be a hard swallow for the more ardent fans of our boy band prime minister but he's not making this up. You can't pretend to fight climate change with gestural carbon taxes when you're committed to flooding world markets with the most toxic, highest-carbon petroleum sludge, bitumen. That's just illogical, counter-intuitive, hypocritical - okay, dishonest.

It has indeed been a horrible septum for Justin Trudeau. Let's hope he learns the lessons of his self-inflicted calamities.


Anonymous said...

It is too bad, too sad, but we all have lessons to learn. But the biggest part is admitting to being wrong and moving forward from there in the knowledge it can better be done. Anyong

Northern PoV said...

The courts have intervened yet again.

Even 10 years of Harper shenanigans left some of our judiciary intact.
(Another 5 years of Harper could have ruined our judiciary beyond repair.)
Decent court appointments was the main reason I voted strategically for Jr. in 2015. My conscience is clear.

That said, I agree with most of Coyne's take...
however, Jr faces two ultra-weak opposition leaders.
2019 will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Trudeau is a pragmatist. We do not know the content of the Canada-China trade agreement and most if the tar sands are not in China-owned companies hands. I'm sure the pipeline is all part of this - unfortunately.

As for trade, Trudeau & Freeland basically told Trump that he can sit on it and rotate.

There is much of Harper's legacy in what Trudeau is having to put up with - NAFTA negotiations notwithstanding.

I actually believe Trudeau is doing a pretty good job. Much improved over the past PM we had. Still, there are issues.


Anonymous said...

correction - "... most of the tar sands are NOW in China-owned companies hands"


Northern PoV said...

Understatement of the year ....

"Still, there are issues."

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the contents of the trade deal with China are publicly available. It would be hard to do business otherwise.


the salamander said...

.. re - 'flooding world markets with the most toxic, highest-carbon petroleum sludge, bitumen' - well, could be maybe.. Mound, I believe this is a myth or fantasy, along with 'nation building' and 'energy security for Canadians' - all pimped by Notely, Trudeau, Kenney, Scheer, Joe Oliver, Harper and any pipeline partisan with a Twitter account.

Rooting out the facts of who will buy the tar sands dilbit could clarify a whole lot of this foreign driven disaster. Actual ship transits at this point can tell who is buying it currently, as will long term contracts with other pipeline carriers. For example, we know Washington State is a big refiner of dilbit as is California, as is the US Gulf Coast. Can they not be serviced by existing pipelines? So why to we need to allow hordes of 1/2 full Afromax supertankers to thrash our marine coasts?

Oh the rainbow unicorn.. Asia.. So why does very little dilbit go to Asia currently? Why would it skyrocket just because even more dilbit arrived in Richmond BC. No answers from the main pipeline to Asia pimps.. just repeating the mantra ad infinitum.. Mainstream Media won't inquire.. or call, 'liar, liar' .. not ever, until they smell blood

Jay Farquharson said...

California and Washington State don't refine dilbit, nor does dilbit currently ship by rail westwards. That's all Southern Alberta Heavy Crude, of which Asia has bought a one time shipment worth $80,000 in the last 70 years.

Dilbit currently heads south and south east into the US, to 58 refineries, with one refinery in Alberta and two in Ontario.

China hit their 20 year Green Energy Goals this year, a mere 12 years early.

Hugh said...

Tourism is all about burning fossil fuels: airplanes, cruise ships, buses, cars, trucks, motorbikes, boats, travel trailers etc. Why doesn't govt take steps to reduce tourism?

Clarke said...

Coyne makes a lot of good points. Trudeau is lucky that his two political opponents are not very effective. Trudeau had the optimistic delusion that by allowing the pipeline, he could get political agreement on carbon taxes. This was wildly optimistic as Notley was only going to get one term, and Ontario is already governed by a party whose base believes climate change is not real.

Owen Gray said...

Jay points to California which aims be be free of fossil fuels in about thirty years. The wise should take note.