“That pipeline is going to get built,” said a combative Prime Minister Trudeau during a radio interview in Edmonton a few days ago (February 1). His comment was in response to the war of words between the Premiers of Alberta and British Columbia and a B.C. government action intended to stop the construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Image source: flickr.com/photos/markklotz/

Pipeline Is Key to Liberal Climate Policy

Trudeau claims that Kinder Morgan is a key component of his government’s climate policy hinting that the only way he could get agreement on a Canada-wide carbon pricing was to expand oil production.

This is not the first time this Prime Minister has said something that he has had to walk back. The following day, at a raucous town hall meeting in Nanaimo, British Columbia, that same PM said “The only way we can get any of those things is if we do all three of those things together.”

Now, lets just let that sink in for a few seconds. Trudeau is threatening that the only way he can act on climate and protect the BC coast from oil spills is by expanding  the Kinder Morgan pipeline to transport more bitumen — increasing from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day — from the Tar Sands to tankers using the waters off British Columbia.

There’s more. This Prime Minister and his government had also approved other mega fossil-fuel projects which have now faded away from Canada’s energy landscape never to return again. Let’s remember (very briefly) the Lelu Island liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia and the Energy East Pipeline. Both projects bit the dust due to market conditions that rendered them unprofitable and unnecessary. As the political servant of the fossil-fuel industry in Canada, Justin Trudeau has not grasped the idea that the world is moving to a clean energy future while he has his head stuck in the tarsands of Alberta.

The Hypocrisy Is Glaring

The contradictions and the hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s climate change policy are glaring. As he tries to parade Canada as a global climate leader, he promotes deeply unpopular pipeline projects that will expand tarsands production, adding vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to the world’s already overextended carbon budget. Trudeau would have us believe we can reduce emissions by imposing a federal carbon tax while increasing emissions by supporting fossil fuel expansion. This is a deeply disturbing logic that has Trumpian undertones.

The Liberal public relations machine makes Orwellian double-speak seem like normal, intellectual political discourse. “The issue we have is, if we don’t move forward in getting our resources over to markets overseas in safe and secure ways, the rest of the plan no longer holds……We won’t get a national price on carbon and we would never meet our Paris emissions targets,” said Trudeau.

Climate Warrior or Climate Denialism?

Canadians are beginning to recognize that their Prime Minister and the Liberal cabinet are not climate warriors. In fact, the Liberal government has created its own brand of climate denialism, a more subtle, deceitful and dishonest version than the shameless denial of the Harper era.

Let’s remember that Trudeau once derided Stephen Harper’s carbon emission reduction goals as grossly inadequate. But once elected in 2015, he and his government carried the same inadequate  goals to the Paris Agreement talks. But even those weak goals will not be met — this government never even mentions the 2020 targets Canada is supposed to be meeting because with the recent expansions of the tar sands our national emissions are still going in the wrong direction.

The karma of political deception can be quite cruel. “The Kinder Morgan pipeline is not a danger to the B.C. coast,” said Trudeau. But as the Kinder Morgan controversy surges to new heights, a barge has sunk in Howe Sound spilling diesel into the ocean. This was a small spill but it serves as a reminder that any spill can have disastrous consequences for coastlines fertile with ocean wildlife.

Michael Lowry, communications manager for West Canada Marine Response Corp., said that this type of spill is not uncommon: “we get called out to spills of this size and nature on average 20 times a year.”

The federal Liberal Party appears to be suffering under institutional capture by the fossil fuel industry. However, people-power cannot be underestimated. People vote but corporations do not. It was people-power that defeated a pro-fossil fuel Liberal government in the last BC provincial election. It was people-power which led to the defeat of Energy East and Northern Gateway pipeline projects. And people-power will, in the end, win the Kinder Morgan battle.

Prime Minister Trudeau will come to regret saying “that pipeline will be built” because if we are to have any chance of turning the corner on climate change in Canada, it must not.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Rollie,
    That’s your best post yet. Thanks.
    Trudeau’s hypocrisy is becoming more and more obvious and deserves to be called out like this. For a while I was willing to give him the benefit of my doubts, but now it’s obvious that Bill McKibben was right last April when he said of Trudeau that his ” words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn. I’m joining you in the cranky and angry old geezer camp.
    Guy Hanchet

  2. You have that right Ed. Politics always trump (pun intended) the climate. The gap between what is needed to avert climate disaster and what humanity is doing keeps getting wider and wider. It’s hard to remain optimistic.

  3. Awesome Rolly. A little story, I just got an email re: high school reunion, that would be LCHS, as in L for Lloydminster and year 1978, 40 years ago. Growing up in that Alberta border oil city, I followed the local story career into a decade of oilfield work, knowing no better. Any local story ridiculed the tar sands up north (McMurray), subsidized by Ottawa, and no way they’ll get the oil separated from the sands. Around Lloydminster, the same sands formation bearing heavy oil produces from wells with a lot of steam heat assistance — secondary recovery. So, point being, decision made thirty or forty years ago can be reversed. Keep up the great work. I found an alternate career decades ago and know may others can. Like letting go of horses a century ago.

    • Les – thanks for sharing part of your story. I think we all have those little anecdotes about things we would or could have done differently. I have my own.

      And indeed our decisions are not written in stone, and can be changed. Perhaps we need to remind our younger Prime Minister that he too can change some of his decisions now before he grows older and lives to ask himself “what was I thinking”.

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