Trudeau’s false radicalism

2019-09-04

in Canada, Economics, Law, Politics, The environment

Geoff Dembicki has a piece out about how Trudeau’s method is to promise substantive reforms to voters, while privately comforting business with the understanding they won’t really be meaningful:

So on climate, for instance, he was presented as this kind of river-paddling environmental Adonis. He promised that fossil fuel projects wouldn’t go ahead without the permission of communities. But the Liberals create these public spectacles of their bold progressiveness while they quietly assure the corporate elite that their interests will be safeguarded. So at the same time Trudeau was going around the country and convincing people that he was this great climate hope, the Liberal party had for years been assuring big oil and gas interests that there would not be any fundamental change to the status quo.

The Liberal climate plan essentially is a reworking of the business plan of Big Oil and the broader corporate lobby. Most Canadians probably wouldn’t realize this because of the nature of coverage in the mainstream media and the polarized political debate about the carbon tax, but overwhelmingly there is an astonishing consensus among the corporate elite in support of a carbon tax.

The plan is to support a carbon tax and to effectively make it a cover for expanded tarsands production and pipelines. That was a plan hatched by the Business Council of Canada back in 2006, 2007. For 20 years oil companies had resisted any kind of regulation or any kind of carbon tax and fought it seriously. But they started to realize that it would be a kind of concession that they would have to make in order to assure stability and their bottom line not being harmed. The climate bargain that Trudeau went on to strike with Alberta of a carbon tax plus expanded tarsands production was precisely the deal that Big Oil had wanted.

For a long time, Canadians prioritizing climate change have had no effective political option. Under first-past-the-post Green and even NDP votes are often counterproductive protests. I’m wary about criticism of the Liberals increasing the odds of a Conservative win, but I don’t think we should lie either.

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