Trudeau: ‘No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there’
Trump: “We’ve got underneath us more oil than anybody … and I want to use it.”
I have very little to add to this. Emotionally, culturally, empathetically, educationally and behaviourally, Trump and Trudeau are as different as different can be. Trump is a bully, a braggard and a boor. Trudeau is a refined classical decoration on the carpet of civilization. Trump is a dirty stain.
Yet when it comes to energy and oil, their brains and their political instincts think alike. Trump is a proud climate denier. His “Grab them by the oil-wells” thoughts are at least consistent with his larger outlook, which is nationalist and mercantilist, as if the eighteenth century had never ended.
Trudeau, on the other hand, supposedly understands the dire nature of the crisis: “The fight against climate change must be conducted by the whole world because the consequences of global warming do not have any borders … The unprecedented number of countries that have signed the Paris agreements bears witness to the international consensus about the impact of human activity on the climate.”
His Liberal Party’s Platform is equally clear: “Climate change is an immediate and significant threat to our communities and our economy … These targets must recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than-two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent, as well as the need for Canada to do its part to prevent that from happening.”
So what gives? How come the stain on the carpet and the refined classical decoration think the same way when it comes to oil?
Theory #1: Trudeau has never understood the true nature of the climate crisis. His close policy adviser Gerry Butts, previous CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, has chickened out, and failed to impress on him how desperately urgent the crisis is. His Climate Minister, Catherine McKenna, came to the job with no experience in energy, climate or environmental affairs, and her chief advisor, Marlo Raynolds, whose appointment made me feel so optimistic, has quite simply lost the plot.
Theory #2: Trudeau really likes ‘sunny ways’, reflecting his upbeat, optimistic view of the world and the possibilities of change. The climate crisis, at first, second and third glances is a total downer. It’s only when you dig deep and give it a fourth glance that the myriad benefits of a great energy transition to 100% renewable energy become clear.
Theory #3: Trudeau is stuck on not upsetting Alberta, going back to his father’s political nightmare when trying to impose a National Energy Program. It has become a fixation, which dominates more rational policies. The newly named Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline was supposed to heal that wound forever, and win the hearts of Alberta’s dyed-in-the-oil conservatives, enabling his father to sleep peacefully in heaven.
Theory #4: Trudeau is simply an old-fashioned politician for whom winning elections over-rides any higher or more long-term principles. His commitment to act on climate change, his commitment to ensure a proper environmental review of the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, his commitment to protect aboriginal rights and title, and to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its principle of “free, prior, and informed consent”.these are all secondary to his deeper political instincts, which is to do whatever it takes to defeat opponents and win elections. They can all be scrapped, if that’s what winning calls for.
Theory #5: Trudeau enjoys the company of oil industry bigwigs more than the doom-and-gloom laden warnings of environmentalists, who are troublesome wasps at his honey-and-oil filled party.
They all seem possible. What’s your theory?
By Guy Dauncey