Upcoming national election is crucial for Canada’s energy sector

Ontario – Energy and the environment is arguably the key policy area that will decide the election—and most agree the outcome of the vote will, in turn, be crucial for Canada’s energy sector.

Image result for alberta tar sands pipeline

In Alberta, political differences have become personal, particularly after the 2014 crash in petroleum prices. And while a CBC poll tracker shows the opposition Conservatives holding a slim lead over the ruling Liberals – neither is projected to win a majority government.

But in Alberta, a Tory landslide is predicted, with the Conservatives holding a nearly 45 percent lead over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. After the 2015 national election, Alberta was already feeling the effects of the turn-down in oil and gas prices from the previous year. Unemployment in the province was 10 percent.

“I think the federal government has a specific hate on” for Alberta, Robyn Moser says, according to The Guardian. “We have a federal government that wants to choke the Alberta economy for its own political reasons.” She is referring to Trudeau, who has tried to walk down the middle of the road, playing to both sides of the climate issue and Alberta’s failing energy sector.

Conservative candidate Andrew Sheer at a gathering in Langley B.C. this week.

Conservative candidate Andrew Sheer at a gathering in Langley, B.C. this week. Andrew Sheer
Oil sands very existence is on the ballot

While Trudeau and his supporters argue that Canada can become a global oil superpower and a leader in fighting climate change – his main challenger, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, accuses Trudeau of abandoning a pipeline through British Columbia, failing to push through another line to Canada’s east coast and passing a law that they say will make major energy projects impossible to approve, reports BNN Bloomberg.

And voters have not forgotten a comment Trudeau made at a town hall meeting back in 2017 when he said the country “needed to phase out the oil sands.”

“Do we want our energy industry to be a global player, or do we want our industry to go into hibernation and we’ll just slowly shut it down?” Derek Evans, chief executive officer of oil-sands producer MEG Energy Corp., said in an interview. “That’s the point we’re at.”

Athabasca oilsands in Alberta Canada.

Athabasca oilsands in Alberta, Canada.
Howl Arts Collective (CC BY 2.0)

It is true that the region around Fort McMurray contains the world’s third-largest crude reserves, but to get the thick bitumen to market requires pipelines, and that is a contentious subject in today’s world of environmental awareness. With limited pipeline capacity, discounts to Canadian oil, and delays to projects like TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, the future is not looking good.

Trudeau did not win friends or influence people when his government ended up buying the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline that was being held up with legal challenges, protests and a British Columbia government pledging to block its construction. The only thing to come out of this move was that Trudeau earned the nickname “Justin Crudeau.”

Naomi Klein, the prominent Canadian writer, and activist said the purchase highlights the “utterly hypocritical” position Trudeau has taken since coming to power, allowing the oil sands to expand while claiming to make Canada a climate leader.

Green Party Canada

@CanadianGreens

We’re the only party standing firmly against any fossil fuels.

In a climate emergency, that’s the only position endorsed by science.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-11/green-who-wants-to-abandon-oil-may-be-canada-s-next-power-broker 

Green Who Wants to Abandon Oil May Be Canada’s Next Power Broker

Elizabeth May has been the lone green voice in Canada’s legislature for most of the eight years since she became her party’s first elected member of parliament.She may soon have more company. Polls…

bloomberg.com

How will the vote go?

It will be a close race and as the polls suggest, Canada could very well end up with a minority Liberal government. Even so, there will be seats for the environmentally-minded Green Party and the New Democratic Party – and this could end up being bad news for oil sands advocates.

Green leader Elizabeth May sees the election as a referendum on climate and Canada’s last chance to take the lead in fighting climate change. “We can’t negotiate with the global atmosphere to say, ‘We need a bit more time,’” said May, whose campaign platform displays a photo of her being arrested protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Karel Mayrand, the director of the David Suzuki Foundation for Quebec and Atlantic Canada, a non-profit environmentalist organization, says “You could say ‘Alberta can export its oil, and Quebec can export its electricity and everyone shakes hands. But the problem is that for a growing share of the population, in Canada as well as in Quebec, accepting this means throwing all of Canada’s climate goals out of the window.” SOURCE

Commentary by Elizabeth May: We must end our reliance on fossil fuels

a10 10152019 green-may.jpgGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May speaks at the federal leaders’ election debate on Thursday in Gatineau, Que. Oct. 10, 2019 Photograph By CHRIS WATTIE, THE CANADIAN PRESS

“Humanity is conducting an unprecedented, uncontrolled globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to global nuclear war.”

That was the opening sentence to the consensus finding of international scientists gathered for the first global climate conference, “Our Changing Atmosphere; implications for global security.”

It was held in a heat wave, in the last week of June 1988, in Toronto. As senior policy adviser to the minister of environment, I helped organize that conference.

I was optimistic. We had public attention. Two prime ministers (Canada and Norway) addressed the conference. We kick-started the launching of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the negotiations leading to the foundation framework treaty on the threat of global warming.

Is it a gift or a curse to be prevented from seeing the future?

Had I imagined then that more than 30 years later we would still be arguing about when we should get started in earnest, I do not know how I could have handled the horror of it.

It is a slow-motion horror. In June 1992, every nation on Earth committed at the Rio Earth Summit, in a legally binding treaty, to reduce greenhouse gases such that we could avoid levels of climate change that could be “dangerous.” Instead, between 1992 and now, humanity has burned more fossil fuels, emitting more greenhouse gases, than between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and 1992.

In other words, well past the point that we understood human-caused climate change to be a major threat to our future, we put our foot on the gas to amplify the risk.

No wonder Greta Thunberg is shaking with rage. So am I.

…It is clear to me that two major obstacles blocked our progress. One was the well-funded campaigns of Big Oil to lie to us about the science. The other was the perennial problem of short-term political thinking, always seeking partisan advantage. We must set aside partisanship. I am calling for the equivalent of a “war cabinet” to ensure a non-partisan approach to our survival.

Holding to no more than a 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase is not a political target. That goal, agreed to by all the nations in Paris, is not negotiable. We cannot negotiate with physics. It is now Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advice that shooting past 1.5 degrees means that children alive today are unlikely to have a functional human civilization through their lives. Shooting past 2 or 3 degrees means that the hospitality of this planet for lifeforms like us is very much in doubt.  MORE

In this Climate Crisis Election, Who Dares Name Big Oil the Enemy?

CanadaOilSands.jpg
No party’s platform explicitly names the oil industry as the main barrier to lowering emissions. ‘Even saying that in Canada is impolite,’ says Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. Photo of Alberta’s oil sands by Kris Krug, Creative Commons licensed.

What would a climate platform that actually rises to the emergency declared earlier this year by Canada look like? Perhaps something like the plans being put forward by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and other frontrunners for the U.S. Democratic Party nomination.

It’s not just massive spending commitments that potentially qualifies these plans as emergency-worthy — although the numbers are formidable. Sanders for example promises $16.3 trillion to help shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels and create 20 million jobs in the low-carbon economy that comes next.

Nor is it the mind-warping scale and ambition. Warren intends to eliminate carbon emissions from all new buildings by 2028, do the same for new vehicles by 2030 and completely shift America’s power grid to zero-emissions energy by 2035.

The thing that truly sets these plans apart from anything proposed before by a serious contender for U.S. president is their willingness to take on the entrenched political power of the fossil fuel industry. During CNN’s recent town hall on climate change, Harris, a former prosecutor, vowed to take legal action against oil and gas companies for their role in sowing doubt and uncertainty about climate science.

“This is what we did to the tobacco companies. We sued them, we took them to court,” she said. Harris dedicates an entire pillar of her five-pillar climate plan to “hold accountable those responsible for environmental degradation, the misinformation campaign against climate science, and creating harm to the health and wellbeing of current and future generations.”

Sanders similarly promises to go after “fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis” while raising $3 trillion in funding for his plan by making companies “pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.”

Warren would ban leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands. At the CNN town hall she accused fossil fuel companies and other industrial giants of “making the big bucks off polluting our Earth.”

Even former vice-president Joe Biden, not exactly the image of an anti-corporate radical, vows to “take action against fossil fuel companies.”

Canada is not even close to having that conversation politically. It may be edging there. On Saturday, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies.

“Our problem is upstream oil and gas is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and the fastest rising source, so until we’re willing to tackle the oil industry, then we are not acting like this is an emergency or even a serious problem” — Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

And last month the Greens’ May, noting full-page ads in newspapers urging citizens vote in support of the oil sands, tweeted, “This is what we’re up against,” declaring, “If humanity doesn’t transition off fossil fuels” by the 2023 election, “the earth will heat to unsafe levels and there will be climate catastrophe.” MORE

Elizabeth May: We have had decades to stop the climate crisis. The era of procrastination must end

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May meets with the Toronto Star editorial board on Tuesday.
Elizabeth May is the leader of Canada’s federal Green Party

For all my life I have had a deep connection to the natural world. And I do mean all my life.

My mother used to tell me that when I was about 2 I told her I hated airplanes. As I had never been in one, she asked why. “Because they scratch the sky.”

When I was 13, I set my course to become an environmental lawyer. This path was interrupted by my parents’ somewhat impetuous decision to move the family from Hartford, Conn., where my father was a senior insurance executive, to a tiny village on Cape Breton Island. Almost as an afterthought, my parents made a financially disastrous decision to buy a restaurant and gift shop. Instead of pre-law university in my late teens to late 20s, I worked as a waitress and cook in the family business. And every winter I ended up fighting the local pulp mill over its plans to spray pesticides over our island.

My life got back on track when I discovered I could go to law school without an undergraduate degree. I was known as an activist, described by CBC’s The Fifth Estate as “the 23-year-old waitress who stopped the pulp company dead in its tracks.” Without knowing it was even possible, my activism helped me gain admission to Dalhousie University law school.

Which brings me to why climate change is personal: In 1986, the minister of the environment decided he needed someone in his office with a reputation for environmental activism. I was practising law with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa when he asked me to join his staff. I was an unlikely choice — not a supporter of his party and, as I warned him against hiring me, “I am the kind of person who would quit on principle.”

I will be forever grateful for that chance to be the minister’s senior policy adviser. Even though, sadly, I did end up quitting on principle, I learned the workings of government — when it works — and I learned the science of climate change.

Those were heady times for anyone wanting to see government act on the side of the planet. I was part of Environment Canada’s work to stop acid rain, create national parks, clean up the Great Lakes, develop new environmental legislation and negotiate the treaty that saved the ozone layer.

I was also educated about climate change by Environment Canada scientists. In the last week of June 1988, Toronto hosted the world’s first publicly accessible international climate science conference. I was one of the organizers.

It ended with a call to reduce our emissions by 20 per cent below 1988 levels by 2005.

This is the point in this little story when I want to weep. We knew. We promised. In 1992, I was at the Rio Earth Summit, holding my infant daughter in my arms, watching our prime minister sign the treaty to save the climate.

The horrible reality is that since making the promises to curb greenhouse gases, emissions have grown. We have emitted more greenhouse gases since 1992 than between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until 1992. MORE

Green party leaders promise guaranteed liveable income if elected

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May joined Manitoba Leader James Beddome in Winnipeg

Leaders from the provincial and federal Green parties promised to bring in a guaranteed income program as part of their plan to reduce poverty.

Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome, along with national party Leader Elizabeth May, unveiled their poverty reduction strategies at a downtown Winnipeg hotel on Friday.

“Investing in poverty reduction is one of the best public investments that we can make,” Beddome said.

The party cited a 2018 study by the Citizens for Public Justice that found as many as three in 10 Manitobans live in poverty.

The estimated cost of the Manitoba plan would be $1.58 billion. Although the plan would not eliminate poverty entirely, Beddome said it would lift 35,000 adults and 23,000 children out of poverty. People who remained below the poverty line would see their income increase by 21 per cent, he said.

May endorsed the Manitoba plan and said if the Green’s formed Canada’s government, they would convene a council of federal, provincial, local and Indigenous governments to come up with a national guaranteed liveable income plan.

“We can afford to eliminate poverty in Canada. I’d make the case that we can’t afford not to,” May said.

By investing in poverty reduction, governments would save money in other areas such as health, criminal justice, and “the apparatus and vast bureaucracy of band aid solutions for poverty that don’t ever, ever solve the problem,” May said. MORE

Elizabeth May — we don’t have to choose between the economy and the environment

Elizabeth May -- we don't have to choose between the economy and the environment. Image: Victoria Fenner

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:

When rabble.ca podcast producer Victoria Fenner heard that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was coming to the small conservative city of Barrie, Ontario, on July 18 for a pre-campaign town hall and rally, she could think of a lot of things to talk to her about.

Barrie is right in the middle of Tory blue country and tough territory for progressives. It’s the biggest city in Simcoe County, located on the traditional territory of the Haudensaunee, Ojibway/Chippewa and Anishnabek First Nations. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. Colonization by Europeans began about 400 years ago by French explorers. The first elections here happened way back in 1823 after the British took over and it’s been Conservative country for a very long time. It’s close enough to Toronto that a lot of people commute every day from the south part of the riding. The north part of the county, not so much. But out towards Collingwood, cottagers and skiiers from Toronto contribute a lot of money towards the local economy.

There are very few Red Tories in this county. Remember the Reform Party? That upstart right wing party that shifted politics further right in the late ’80s and the ’90s? The former riding of Simcoe Centre, which was right in the heart of the city of Barrie, was the only place in Canada east of Manitoba that ever elected a Reform Party MP. That’s an indicator of how conservative this area of the country is. The Liberals do come close sometimes but not enough to get them elected. In the 2015 election, the Green Party was the distant fourth party.

The Green Party message is a tough sell in places where people think they have to choose between a stable economy and a healthy environment to live in. But that’s not just here — that kind of dichotomous thinking goes on in so many places. The good news is that this can change with people moving in from other places, and a growing sense that the environment needs to be a bigger priority.

In today’s rabble radio, Victoria Fenner and Elizabeth May talk about that and a wide range of subjects — the disconnect that some people see between economy and environment, the first-past-the-post system, how international trade agreements have affected the health of the planet, and the role of media in fostering an empowered, informed citizenry. SOURCE

RELATED:

Elizabeth May reveals Green Party transition plans for fossil fuel workers

Greens plan to expand on Trudeau’s coal phase-out to include oil and gas


Green party Leader Elizabeth May (centre) and Green candidates announce their commitment to ‘just transition’ for fossil fuel workers in Vancouver on Aug. 7, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Wood

The Green Party of Canada is endorsing the work of a task force formed by the Trudeau government to phase out coal power nationwide by 2030 and help workers transition to new jobs, but wants to take the plan a step further.

Party Leader Elizabeth May said Wednesday that the Greens fully support all 10 recommendations made by the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities, which released its final report on coal workers and communities this spring.

At an event in Vancouver on Wednesday, joined by Green candidates from around British Columbia, May said she’d like to implement a similar process with a panel to visit communities dependent on oil and gas.

May said her plan is to ensure no workers are left out of work as the energy industry changes. “We are not at war with fossil fuel workers,” May said. “We are not willing to leave any part of Canada or any community behind.”

National Observer has reported that the task force exclusively researched conditions for coal workers. It recommended a large range of actions, such as $300-million to create a jobs bank, as well as community supports such as transition centres where workers can find information on jobs and training.

The report also found many coal workers felt mistrust for the government, and doubt in its abilities to fulfill promises of a stable transition.

May said visiting communities helped address that mistrust, and will do the same for people in oil and gas. “There’s more trust in honesty. We can say this is the plan, this is the timeline, and how much time do you need to adjust? What are your needs?” she said. “Empowerment and agency are the things that remove fear for all of us.”

She said planning for transitions, as well as oilsands cleanup, should start sooner than later, or else it could result in rushed, inadequate government assistance.

“We have to plan for the cleanup,” she said. “The same guys who drilled the oil wells can help us in reclaiming abandoned oil wells to geothermal power producing.” MORE