Over the past few months, the Liberal government has elevated the topic of climate change to a national emergency and the crisis of our time. The Environment Minister loudly affirmed that without immediate action, the world as we know it will cease to exist in say . . . twelve years. This according an interpretation of scientific research provided by the likes of Minister McKenna and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But who is counting?
According to Minister McKenna, the best medicine for saving the planet is a carbon tax, and punishing regulation on the Canadian oil and gas industry. The carbon tax, as the Prime Minister explains it, would supernaturally eliminate forest fires in Alberta and bring about environmental salvation to the entire county. That’s rich given that Alberta has had a carbon tax in place since 2007 and Canada contributes less than two per cent of global GHG emissions; but who wants to let facts get in the way of a good story?
What the Prime Minister and Minister McKenna apparently fail to see is a much more urgent matter staring them directly in the face—the break-up of the country.
A few days ago, six provincial premiers representing nearly 60 per cent of the Canadian population and GDP alerted the Prime Minister of a looming national unity crisis should his government enact C-69, the “no more pipelines bill,” and C-48, the “tanker ban.” Their ask? Accept the 188 amendments introduced by the Senate to C-69 and walk away from C-48 or risk a constitutional challenge.
While Ottawa continues to shrug off genuine concerns as bluffing tactics, a recent survey in Alberta indicated nearly 60 per cent of Albertans agreed they would be better off without Canada, and felt they did not get treated fairly by the federal government. The numbers are identical in Saskatchewan. Ignoring the message however, the Prime Minister went so far as to characterize the six premiers as merely “conservatives” who are creating a phony war and stoking the flames of disunity. What he neglected to mention is that Rachel Notley, a former NDP Premier, and Christy Clarke, a former Liberal premier, held the same position as these conservative sabre rattlers.
There are simple reasons why western Canada is losing ground to the Americans: market access, and a leadership vacuum created by the federal government. Western Canadians have lost approximately 200,000 jobs, and the drilling and service rig sector has lost nearly 600 rigs or 40 per cent of the Canadian rig fleet to the United States or other international jurisdictions.
The Liberals’ record on pipelines has been a complete failure. Shortly after coming into power, the federal government vetoed Northern Gateway a multibillion-dollar project with First Nation partnerships capable of transporting Alberta and Saskatchewan energy products to new Asian markets. The government didn’t stand up to President Obama when he vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have expanded access to the United States market. As a result of federal regulatory uncertainty, Energy East was cancelled and an opportunity to allow Canadians to consume Canadian energy products was frittered away. And finally, the federal government was forced into purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline because a private investor became too exhausted with the political and regulatory circus, and unwillingness of the federal government to enforce its constitutional authority.
So here we are with the stage set. The Prime Minister has a national unity mess on his hands because of pending punitive legislation and an overreach of federal jurisdiction, yet even still he insists that big Ottawa knows best. I hope he will reconsider and listen to what Canadians are trying to tell him; the very future of our country depends on it.