Recently, Michael Enright, the host of CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition, politely struggled through an interview with Catherine McKenna on the contradiction at the heart of Canada's current energy policy. This contradiction, as Enright points out, is that Canada is committed to reducing our carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, while we are at the same time expanding Alberta's oil production. Not only that, but we are actually building new pipelines to get that oil to markets in the Pacific.
Here's an excerpt from Enright's introduction to the topic ahead of his interview:
There does seem to be broad consensus in this country that climate change is real, that it's a problem, and that governments should do something about it.
If you're like me, then you are wondering how on Earth the federal government intends to reconcile reducing carbon emissions while expanding its single largest source of these emissions. Naturally, I listened with great interest to Enright's interview with our Environment Minister. I was listening for some sort of technical explanation. Even a cheap, silly explanation may have sufficed. I partly expected McKenna to say something like, "Well... we're just exporting the oil... we won't be the one's actually burning it, so, in the end, at least Canada will meet our targets." To her credit, McKenna did not stoop that low.
However, McKenna's responses to the inherent contradictions within Canada's current actions on climate change still scare the heck out of me, and they should scare the heck out of you, too. Here's why.
McKenna basically had an open mic on our national broadcaster for just over 30 minutes. She had plenty of time to explain the apparent contradictions within the Liberal government's actions on climate change. But, alas... she did not.
Instead, our Minister of the Environment and Climate Change dodged, redirected, pontificated, name-dropped, told stories, passed the buck, and threw around banal platitudes and tired clichés like they were cigarette butts at a Las Vegas smoker's convention.
I was so incensed... so outraged at McKenna's sly and slippery responses to the increasingly direct and pointed questions put to her by Michael Enright that I decided to produce a Malarkey Matrix to analyze McKenna's responses. I categorized the Minister's statements into one of two rows, each under one of two columns. The rows were labelled as either Pro-Oil or Pro-Environment. The columns were classified as either Fact or Malarkey.
It is important to understand that "malarkey" does not mean lies. The standard definition of malarkey is something to the effect of "meaningless talk" or "nonsense." That, my fellow Canadians, is exactly what I feel Catherine McKenna treated CBC listeners to for just over half an hour on the CBC's March 18, 2018 issue of The Sunday Edition.
To help make my point, I have presented the results of my malarkey analysis below.
The statements presented within the above matrix are all direct quotes from Enright's interview with McKenna. Invariably, the choice of quotes and the placement of these quotes within the four quadrants of the matrix are subjective in nature. However, I think I have presented a fair and balanced summary, and I think the summary does a sufficient job of highlighting a profound lack of substance behind the Minister's defence of the federal government's current actions on climate change. It is precisely this lack of substance that should give all Canadians, and, indeed, all citizens of the world, great pause regarding Canada's current course of action on climate change.
My general assessment of McKenna's position on climate change would be that she is attempting to drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror. She is making decisions based on where we have been, as opposed to where we need to go. She points out that most Canadians still drive gas cars, therefore we need to expand our production of oil and gas... expand it!
McKenna points out that transitions make people uncomfortable, but, in truth, it's not the transition that makes me uncomfortable: it's the lack of transition. Specifically, it's the current federal government's clear and unapologetic investment in a carbon-based future. McKenna talks gleefully about a new light rail transit system in Ottawa while glossing over the fact that we are making huge investments to expand Alberta's oil sands operations: Canada's largest and fastest growing contribution to greenhouse gases. I hate to quote Bill Cosby at this particular time in history, but I can't help but think of his famous quote: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
It seems to me that the federal Liberals are trying to please all the stakeholders in Canada's current oil economy, while at the same time engaging concerned Canadians with a lot of shallow talk about the environment and climate change. The problem with all this, however, is that climate change is real: climate change is not some political shell game that can be exploited for political gain, corporate profits, or photo opps. Climate change is happening. Climate change will not wait.
I have said it before, and I'll say it again. The world cannot wait for governments, NGOs, or private enterprise to address climate change. We must all, as individuals, take decisive and meaningful action on climate change, and we must take this action now. Yes, it would be especially helpful if governments would join the fight, but if they're not willing to, then the people will just have to go this one alone.
People everywhere, please take this to heart: you have more power than any government, organization, or corporation on Earth. Never forget that.
It is the people of the world who depend of this planet, and it is the people of the world who can shape the future of this planet.
So... know this:
Corporations can produce all the oil they want, and governments can even help them do it... but nobody, absolutely nobody, can MAKE US BUY IT!
When it comes to the environment, we are all neighbours.