Chaos has come to Canada.
If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not make the right moves in the next month, the chaos will become more intense and have a different flavour. It won’t only be wild-eyed activists blockading roads, railways and legislature buildings, it will be the people of Alberta rising up against Ottawa like never before.
The chaos has come crashing due to the construction of the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline, which is supported by the Trudeau Liberals, the Horgan NDP and the leadership of the Wet’suwet’en people.
Illegal protests and blockades in support of a small fraction of the Wet’suwet’en who oppose the project have sprung up across Canada.
It’s poetic justice this is happening on Horgan and Trudeau’s watch. Both their governments have done much to encourage the most aggressive of activists. For example, both governments have supported UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which rashly declares no major project must proceed without prior and informed consent of Indigenous groups. This notion runs counter to Canadian law, which makes it clear there is no veto for any First Nation on a major project which is in the overall public good.
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Not surprisingly, protestors against the LNG pipeline have invoked the supposed veto under UNDRIP.
To get this project moving, it now looks like only mass arrests and charges will work. But will Trudeau support his own authorities in cracking down?
If he fails, expect to see more illegal, and increasingly confrontational, protests to stop the $12 billion-plus TMX pipeline.
In Alberta, in the most important political decision since the bungled, much-delayed and hugely expensive TMX fiasco, Trudeau must now make the right call on the Teck Frontier oilsands mine approval.
Teck Frontier is the biggest oilsands project ever proposed. The $20-billion proposal has unprecedented support from all Indigenous groups in the area.
Most crucially — and the importance of this is paramount — Teck Frontier was approved by an expert federal/provincial panel after a rigorous, open and transparent 10-year regulatory process.
Why is the federal government now waffling on affirming the regulator’s approval?
In a press conference on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney lashed out, saying if this were about a $20-billion investment into an airplane factory in Quebec or a car plant in Ontario, the government would not try to link airplane or car emissions to approval, but would instead be falling all over itself to offer subsidies.
Two years ago Ottawa exempted a Quebec cement plant from federal environmental review, Kenney said, even as that plant produces two megatons of CO2 emissions per year (about half of what Teck Frontier will produce).
“If their central issues were carbon (emissions), they would have stopped that cement factory,” Kenney said of the Trudeau cabinet. “They would not subsidize Bombardier and auto companies in Ontario. It’s not about emissions. It’s not about the environment. It appears to be about the West.”
Kenney said he’s tried repeatedly to address with Trudeau any outstanding issues around Alberta’s oilsands emissions but has heard nothing back. “We get zero response to that. Instead, all we get are these passive-aggressive messages constantly emanating from Ottawa, when all we ask that the rule of law is respected and that this country demonstrates that we are a safe place in which to invest, that we don’t follow banana republic-style rules where political preferences are substituted for regulatory decisions.”
Asked what his government’s reaction would be if Teck Frontier is rejected, Kenney said: “The reaction would be swift and serious. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
A new and clever line of defence for Trudeau possibly rejecting Teck has come out, essentially that the decision is a lose-lose proposition, with cabinet either upsetting Alberta or accepting Teck and losing all credibility as a government committed to fighting climate change. Essentially, the notion is that Trudeau might as well upset Alberta rather than be called out as a fraud on such an important matter.
But, in fact, if Teck proceeds, the Alberta oilsands will still be below the 100-megaton emissions cap for the oilsands.
Yes, a few thousand of the most hardcore oilsands haters will be momentarily outraged. But the chaos exploding out of a rejection of Teck will be far more severe. Trudeau would empower already uncontrolled climate protestors, inject a kill shot of uncertainty into the Canadian economy for investors, and unleash a new level of political chaos in Western Canada.
His path should be clear, to stand up for peace, order and good government by approving Teck Frontier.