"History does not repeat itself but it rhymes." It's a line often attributed to Mark Twain. No matter, it passes the test of time.
It feels like we're in one of those moments in Canada today. And, to me, Canada today sort of rhymes with the United States in 1860. It was the Slave States then and it's the petro-provinces here today.
Is it mere coincidence that the 19th century slavers and our 21st century bitumen pimps use similar arguments? The slavers and the pimps meticulously avoid the moral argument that they know is unwinnable. Instead they put forward the economic argument, dubious as it was then and is now, conveniently wrapped in the emotional flag of "state's rights" or, in our case, provincial rights. Although the slavers were an elite minority, they harnessed most of the white population of these states to their cause, a testament to the power of inculcated grievance. The slavers eventually invoked secession. Ours, for now, merely hint at it.
The slave states pushed their luck but they did it knowing they had considerable support for their vile, inhumane economy on Capitol Hill in Washington. Our petro-premiers know they too have plenty of support in Ottawa, a Parliament divided. They've even got their very own Rebel Media (and PostMedia) banging their drum, whipping up their plebs.
A piece in yesterday's NatPo carried the headline:
'It’s not Canadian to do this': Thousands rally as federal resource bills, pipeline delays roil the West.
It's not Canadian? Who says? Are there, perhaps, two incompatible Canadas wrestling to see which will prevail? It sure sounds like it.
With a federal cabinet decision looming on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the pro-energy industry advocacy group Canada Action convened the rally, perhaps 4,000 people strong, to show support for the project and lay into two pieces of legislation that have become the focal points for the anger roiling the West.
The pipeline expansion has been mired in delays since a Federal Court of Appeal decision last summer voided the project’s approval. Add to that Bill C-69 and C-48 — respectively, they propose to re-jig the pipeline approvals process and ban oil tanker traffic off the west coast of British Columbia — and there was enough fodder for all manner of protest signage, speeches and chants.
“As long as there is breath in my body we will never stop defending these industries,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told the crowd Tuesday. Moe’s was one of six governments — the others those of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories — that sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday urging him to “refine or eliminate” those bills. The five provinces, now all governed by conservatives, have formed a vocal and coordinated resistance against the federal Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, most pointedly on energy and carbon taxation — issues that have further stoked anger and distrust towards Ottawa under the Liberals, and that may define this fall’s election.Has it really come to this? As I catch the first whiff of wildfire smoke of the day I realize that I don't want to be part of their Canada just as, apparently, they don't want to be part of mine. Fair enough.
I want a Canada that is a place for our young people and future generations. Those are not their priority. They want a Canada that, despite all the science, despite all the change under our feet, despite all the suffering and loss spreading across our planet, will still flood world markets with high carbon, high cost, low value bitumen so that they can settle for paltry royalties that, true to form, they'll just 'piss it all away.'
I don't want their Canada on my conscience. If that's what Canada must be, count me out.