Michael Harris writes that the Dauphin's moment of truth has arrived. Everything else he's tried has failed so, at last, he's going green.
On Sept. 23, Trudeau will put his government, and his legacy, on the line with a throne speech. It faces a confidence vote. If the Liberals should lose that vote, the government would fall.
Then Canadians would be plunged into their first national campaign held during a pandemic, left to scratch their heads over myriad questions.
Who would the citizenry blame for sending them to the polls with COVID-19 still very much on the prowl?
Everything depends on the essence of the throne speech, including the federal government’s plan to revive the COVID-battered economy. Expect them to spend the numbers off the national credit card. Money for child care and health services, maybe even pharmacare, will be there. Liberal caucus members are clamouring, too, for a guaranteed basic income. How does the NDP oppose that?
And every signal coming out of Ottawa suggests that the prime minister is finally ready to put flesh on the rhetoric of his vision of a new, green economy, a Canada moving away from fossil fuels with solid plans to substitute renewable energies. Why is that so risky? History. The country has seen this movie before under the Liberals. It produced no Academy Awards.
...Some key clues to what the government might unveil on the climate change front are contained in remarks made by the PM in the riding of Burnaby South just prior to the 2019 federal election, four months before COVID-19 arrived in Canada.
It was the classic “big-vision” speech. Trudeau told his audience that politicians would have to move “faster than ever” to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The words he used are telling:
“That means not putting any more carbon emissions into the air than we take out.... It’ll require us to slash our emissions, transform our economy, and use the power of nature — like planting trees and protecting ecosystems — to bring us to net zero.... We will hit net zero by 2050 — not only because we can, but because we must.”
...Expect Erin O’Toole to go after Trudeau exactly as Harper went after Dion. The CPC will declare that the government must not ignore the traditional energy sector in its zeal to create a brave, new economic world in Canada based on green energy
As the leader of what remains a western-based party, O’Toole will continue to champion Big Oil, and even Jason Kenney, Alberta’s reverse-visionary premier who thinks that open-pit coal mining in the foothills of the Rockies is the answer to climate change.
Refusing to accept the fact that they can never return Albertans to the happy days of $100 a barrel oil, the Conservatives will resort to all the usual threats of economic disaster, as well the spectre of Wexit — a notion nearly as wacky as Brexit.Can Trudeau stop trying to ride a dead horse?
The watchwords these days in the petro palaces are falling prices, unsustainable dividends to investors, rising competition from alternate energy technologies, sector disruption and stranded assets. A financial horror show. Freddy Krueger with an adding machine. Saudi Armaco saw its profits drop 73 per cent.
There’s only one thing better than being on the right side of history; being on the right side of the future.
If the hounds of scandal don’t bring him down, a green Trudeau just might be on to something.I do hope Harris is right but I wouldn't bet the farm on this prime minister growing a spine. If he is sincere there are two clear steps he must take. He has to cut off federal subsidies to the fossil energy sector. That means no more handouts, no more tax deferrals and market-pricing of resources such as freshwater ruined by the fossil fuelers. The second step is to cancel the treasury-sucking vampire, the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline, a.k.a. Trans Mountain. Yes, he might have to write off the billions he's already committed but the remaining billions can be put to far better use elsewhere.
We'll see but Justin has a track record of breaking solemn promises.
The latest 2020 outlook from OPEC on oil demand should stiffen Justin's resolve.