Rex Murphy: Conjuring up an even greater resetIn a weak moment, I have allowed myself to imagine how Trudeau could earn, if not the right, then at least the acceptance of the Canadian public, for his grand international visions
Author of the article: Rex Murphy
Publishing date: Nov 21, 2020 • Last Updated 4 days ago • 4 minute read
Some world leaders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently among them, think that the COVID-19 crisis offers an “opportunity” to “re-imagine” or “reshape” national economies, and tie them to broad international schemes. High in the list of such schemes is, in their words, “ending the carbon economy.” In other words, killing off oil and gas.
In a weak moment, I have allowed myself to imagine how Trudeau could earn, if not the right, then at least the acceptance of the Canadian public, for his grand international visions. The speech that follows is entirely imaginary, which at least places it in the same realm as some of the schemes we have been hearing about.
My fellow Canadians, today I am announcing that I will not move on the issue that is closest to my heart, global warming, until every Aboriginal community in Canada has clean, reliable drinking water.
It’s my way of showing how serious I am about the planetary threat, by linking my highest priority to our nation’s greatest shame. This is to prove that I am absolutely serious about both. What could be more emphatic a proof than that I put the social and moral repair of Canada’s relationship with our First Nations ahead of what I truly see as an existential crisis for the whole world? Let us fix what lies within our competence before we wander to the world stage.
A Canadian government must serve Canadian citizens before all others, and the most neglected reside in the ignored and remote communities of Native people. They have, or most certainly should have, first call on the national civic conscience.
Clean drinking water for our people first. Global warming actions after. The commitment to the second will propel the commitment to the first.
My own thoughts, after much reflection, are that if I as prime minister, with all the powers of that great office, cannot accomplish that basic goal for the first peoples of my own country, how could I, with any self-respect, dream of saving the planet? The first task lies within my power.
It is important that Canada do its part to meet global challenges. But I have concluded, and fortunately Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland agrees with me, that it is even more important that we fix injustices at home, before we extend our energies to areas that are outside our ability to make real change.
My second commitment is less a moral one, though it has moral components. It concerns the health, and durability, of our country.
I will therefore not commit to making Canada carbon-free until the province of Alberta receives practical and material reassurances that such a commitment will not be achieved at the expense of its major industry; that Alberta shall not bear the major costs and feel the pain that will derive from any international climate agenda.
It is not an easy admission, but it is a necessary one: I think my government has been insensitive and shamefully unmindful of the concerns of Western Canada. We have been careless of the plight of its many workers and families in the oil and gas industry, and, embarrassingly, not sufficiently grateful for the immense contributions, financial and technological, that Alberta has made to our country.
For far too long, federal governments, not just mine, have stood back from the international campaigns to disparage Fort McMurray, Alta., and by extension the highly regarded, world-class operations of the Canadian energy industry. It has set the standards for environmental protection, working conditions and technological achievement for the entire industry, worldwide.
We should not have been timid when these attacks were made. We should not have been bystanders. Without Canadian energy, there is no Canadian economy; without energy there is no Canada as we have come to know it.
Finally, because of the COVID crisis, my government has vastly increased both our national deficit and debt. This has left Canada exposed to any future shock, whether medical or financial. Until we restore the financial strength of the country, we shall have to greatly restrict our commitments to external matters, including investments in unproven and unreliable technologies, including solar panels and wind turbines.
So here, then, are my conditions, all of which must be met before we join the great crusade against global warming: first, clean drinking water for all Native reserves; second, re-welcoming Alberta into Confederation through realized policies to assist and support its oil industry; and third, repairing of the nation’s finances following the vast depletion of our treasury over the past year.
In summary: if we can finally signal to Alberta that is not a second-stature colony of the two central provinces, and show — not just promise — our Aboriginal citizens that Canada answers to their needs and repair to the nation’s finance, then — and only then — will I schedule a global warming pirouette on the world stage and indulge in the dreams of the great reset.