Illustration by Left Voice
…Today, Canadian politicians still pander to large corporations instead of pursuing meaningful industrial policy. Trudeau’s Liberals imagine that they have managed to negotiate the binary between economy and environment but that binary only exists because they continue in their well-trod rut. They are putting off the transition from the inevitable end of fossil fuel extraction, letting the manufacturing sector erode rather than retool, and are foreclosing public sector expansions that could be leading the way to a new economy.
Is this the model of industrial development that Canada should follow into the 21st century?
The alternative for Canada is a Green New Deal, a program of economic and social transformation commensurate to the twin crises of inequality and climate change facing the country.
It is a cruel joke that investment in a pipeline – ultimately a relatively small sum – is a major policy move, while other far larger, far more necessary investments are not being made on the scale required. Imagine energy workers in Alberta’s north setting up wind farms rather than mining bitumen. Imagine manufacturing workers in southwest Ontario mass producing new electric public transit vehicles. Both would be integral to a Green New Deal; both prioritize people over profit.
Beyond energy and transport, imagine investments in universal child care (and the good, green child-care jobs they create), in truly affordable, dense public housing, and in public pharmaceutical companies that build on the public funds already going into basic research. A just transition should not just foster new technology, it should redistribute social power and increase living standards for the many – these are the common interests between nurses and autoworkers, and energy workers and early childhood educators.
…a Green New Deal could greatly expand the scope of collective decision making – heralding democratic planning and marshalling of social resources on a large scale. With every passing year and with every new decision to support fossil fuel infrastructure and corporate restructuring in the name of profit, the scale of the alternative plan to counter these actions needs to become more ambitious and far-reaching. A Green New Deal can put workers and the environment at the centre of economic policy and ensure that the necessary transformation reaches all areas of people’s lives. Unlike pipelines and plant closures, an expansive, just transition could unite workers and communities all over Canada in a broad common task. MORE