I knew trouble was brewing early in 2016. Straight from their triumphant stroll onto the floor of the Paris climate summit the previous December, the freshly minted environment minister, Dame Cathy McKenna, toured provincial capitals to spread the vision of a new, low-carbon Canada.
Eventually McKenna sat down with Rachel Notley's enviromin, Shannon Phillips. And that's when McKenna had her ass handed to her. She emerged a blubbering mess.
“We need a transition to a low carbon economy. We absolutely do. But we can’t do it overnight . I’m a realist on this. There are a lot of people who have lost jobs in Alberta. I’m not saying that we destroy our planet. But I think we need to be thoughtful of how we move forward.”Then she bleated out those awful words "national unity" that excuse weak and feckless politicians so often hide behind. I knew then that, when it came to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the filthiest ersatz oil on the planet, the Trudeau government and, with it, Canada, were fucked. Trudeau's was a government of pushovers and the petro-premiers knew it. They had Trudeau's number.
"I'm not saying that we destroy our planet." What a moronic thing for an environment minister to say. Sure, you're folding like a cheap suit but that doesn't mean you actually want, not in so many words, to "destroy our planet." WTF?
Ms. Phillips had stopped McKenna in her tracks and all Trudeau's environment minister could do was to bleat some assurance that she wasn't in favour of destroying our planet.
Then, having folded, Team Trudeau settled in to a future of one compromise after another. As they did this new Liberal government kept falling further and further behind even meeting Stephen Harper's emissions cuts targets.
Every now and then Dame Cathy would blurted out that we had to remember she wasn't just an environment minister, she was also a minister of the economy. Her mandate letter said so. And it did. Trudeau gave all of his cabinet a dual mandate. They were all ministers of the economy. And, with that, came a clear understanding that, when it came to the petro-economy, they were all for it. Yes, they would fight climate change but... nothing must harm the petro-state.
Trudeau did his part. He assured those American oil barons that he was on side. He rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline project but rigged the deck to clear the major expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline right into the heart of BC's Lower Mainland. He went to Edmonton and emerged with a "scrap of paper" deal, a modern incarnation of Neville Chamberlain. Notley promised Alberta's lasting loyalty in exchange for Ottawa's collusion. Yeah, right.
Trudeau turned his back on British Columbia and tore up his solemn campaign promises on pipelines, supertankers, First Nations consultations, honest environmental assessments and, yes, the whole business of "social licence." He betrayed what he told us he stood for and, if that wasn't proof enough, he also betrayed the country on electoral reform. Justin was no Pierre.
Then, when the EnRon alumni who formed Kinder Morgan realized their Trans-Mountain pipeline was an all round bad bet and prepared to abandon it, Trudeau dispatched his finmin, Morneau, to Texas to salvage the project. Morneau offered to indemnify Kinder Morgan against any losses but the wily cowboys had his number. They hadn't even twisted his arm before Morneau cut them a cheque for way more than their doomed pipeline was worth. There was a whoop-up around the campfire that night.
So suddenly Canada owned an overpriced pipeline. At first they said the private sector would be clamoring to buy it from the federal government only buyers, unlike the Trudeau government, weren't fools and there were no takers. Canada and especially Justin Trudeau's government were on the hook.
Then came the federal court that found the obvious, the inescapable facts that the whole Trans-Mountain approval process had been hopelessly flawed. First Nations consultation, the risk to British Columbia's environment, the whole sordid business. So Trudeau, with a 4.5 billion dollar millstone around his neck assured Canadians they would do the assessments again. As if. When it came time for federal officials to report on their evaluations of this pipeline, a Trudeau envoy summoned them all to a room where they were told that their assessments had to support the pipeline. It seems 4.5 billion dollars can corrupt a lot of minds.
Watching Trudeau squirm, lie and weasel were the country's far-right Conservatives. He must have given them a real giggle. One by one these premiers rejected Trudeau's laughably minuscule carbon tax initiative. Sure the feds might win in court but that wouldn't matter if provincial opposition convinced voters to take Trudeau down in the October elections.
It's telling to see the TV ads these conservative thugs are running today. They're not targeting their own voters. They're going after those Canadians who believed Trudeau's promises and gave him a majority government in 2015. They're reminding those past Liberal voters that Trudeau promised them so much and then screwed them. Pretty hard to argue with that.
Sorry, Justin, but you're supposed to dance with the one that brung ya. You walked out on them before the music even started.
It was predictable when, yesterday, six premiers representing Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories, signed what is nothing less than a blackmail note warning that Canada's national unity is on the block if Trudeau goes through with his legislation barring supertankers from BC's northern coast or implementing a new environmental assessment regime. It sounds like something Lincoln received from the Slave States in the runup to the Civil War.
Justin Trudeau wasted no time promising western conservatives that he was no Pierre. That much was true. More's the pity.