Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Approving a pipeline while declaring a climate emergency is ‘climate change denial with a human face.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
‘This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future.’ Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

The Trudeau government’s recent actions — declaring a climate emergency and re-approving the Trans Mountain expansion project within two days — aren’t just hypocritical: they’re morally equivalent to climate change denial.

The United Nation’s authority on climate change recently recommended“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to counter an imminent crisis, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decisions have flagrantly ignored the UN’s counsel.

He’s bent over backwards to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline’s expansion, propping up the project with extensive financial and rhetorical support. In the process, the Trudeau government has perpetuated the prerogatives of an industry that has funded climate change denying research and (knowingly) pollutes the planet.

Make no mistake: Trudeau’s actions represent climate change denial “with a human face,” a darker version of Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček’s 1968 description of his ill-fated liberalization program as “socialism with a human face.”

Trudeau and the Liberal party affirm the reality of global warming in theory, but they effectively deny the phenomenon in practice by facilitating a harmful status quo and belittling the urgency of radical change.

This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future: a mixture of symbolic proclamation and strategically inadequate policy.

With flooding, suffocating wildfires and abnormal temperatures across much of the country, the climate crisis isn’t just a theoretical concern for most Canadians. Global warming’s impacts are now apparent, a fact that’s reflected in a recent poll showing that over two-thirds of Canadians consider stopping climate change “a priority.” MORE

Court says B.C. can’t restrict oil shipments in key case for Trans Mountain

 


A security guard stands nearby construction workers at the Kinder Morgan Burnaby Terminal tank farm, the terminus point of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

A court has ruled that British Columbia cannot restrict oil shipments through its borders in a decision that marks a win for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Alberta’s efforts to get its resources to overseas markets.

The province filed a constitutional reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen.

A five-judge panel agreed unanimously that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

B.C. argued that the proposed amendments were meant to protect its environment from a hazardous substance, while the federal government and Alberta said the goal was to block Trans Mountain. MORE

RELATED:

B.C. to appeal top court ruling it can’t regulate flow of bitumen through Trans Mountain pipeline

 

First Nations leaders at odds over potential pipeline ownership

Is the Trudeau government cynically trying to pass over liability to First Nations?

‘The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,’ says Judy Wilson


Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain expansion project at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

An Indigenous group is urging other First Nations to not invest in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, arguing it is not a sound investment.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has penned an open letter to some leaders who are exploring the idea of partial ownership in the project.

It warns of potential financial risks tied to the proposed pipeline expansion if it gets the ultimate green light from Ottawa.

“The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,” said Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer with the UBCIC. She co-signed the letter with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“A lot of the communities may not have the full financial information and a lot of things they should know if they are going to be investing.”

Chief Judy Wilson with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says that she chooses the health of the southern resident killer whales over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

The letter outlines concerns around ballooning constructions costs of the project, citing total cost estimates upwards of $15 billion.

“When people start doing the actual number crunching they’ll see there’s no real return,” said Wilson, referencing last year’s buy-out by the federal government. MORE

RELATED:

Letter: Trans Mountain poses significant financial risks for First Nations

Trans Mountain consultation approach ‘fatally flawed’ even with extension, says First Nations leader

The Trudeau government is in a clear conflict of interest as owners of the TransMountain pipeline and their duty to consult with the traditional legitimate title holders. Expect litigation and more delay.

‘Extending the timeline doesn’t address all these issues and approach to consultation,’ says Judy Wilson


Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, elected leader of the Neskonlith band and a member of the executive branch of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau critical of the consultation process on the Trans Mountain pipeline. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Even if the time period for consultation with Indigenous groups over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is extended by a few weeks, “it still doesn’t make up for the approach and the flawed way the consultations are being done,” says one B.C. First Nations leader.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, elected leader of the Neskonlith band and a member of the executive branch of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week in which she described the consultation process as “fatally flawed” and detailed several critiques of the process that’s currently underway.

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, announced Thursday the consultation timeframe would be extended by a month, based on requests from Indigenous groups and advice from former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci who is leading the government’s efforts on consultation for the proposed expansion.

“Extending the timeline doesn’t address all these issues and approach to consultation,” said Wilson.

Among her criticisms is that Canada is in a “clear conflict-of-interest” when it comes to fulfilling its obligations to Indigenous groups, especially since it purchased the project from Kinder Morgan.

“As pipeline owners, they have a constant bias now because they’re looking at the interest of the pipeline as a national interest versus their Crown role for consultation to our Indigenous Peoples,” said Wilson in an interview Thursday.

She is also critical of the consultation process itself, because “it’s still bypassing our proper title holders, who are our people … they’re relying mainly on the band construct, which the federal government created,” she said.

MORE

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‘Fundamental Incoherence’ in Trudeau’s Climate Policies, Says Campaigner

Ottawa praises BC’s green leadership, while fighting provincial legal case on Trans Mountain expansion.

TrudeauNotleySeated.jpg
Justin Trudeau’s government welcomes BC’s support on carbon tax, but is siding with Alberta’s Rachel Notley in fighting against BC’s right to regulate oil shipments. Photo from Alberta government.

The federal government’s treatment of British Columbia shows the Trudeau Liberals’ “incoherence” on climate change, says an environmental campaigner.

On one hand, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is calling B.C. an “exemplary climate leader” on Twitter, because the provincial government supports its carbon tax.

582px version of CatherineMcKennaClimateLeaderTweet.jpg

At the same time, the Trudeau government is fighting to force the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through B.C. over the provincial government’s objections and accusing B.C. of hurting the country’s economy. MORE

Back to top Recycle, Reuse & Redos – A Trans Mountain update

Neb "Redo" press conference - (Photo: Kai Nagata, Dogwood BC)
Press conference with Indigenous leaders and environmental organizations following the release of the NEB’s reconsideration report, Feb. 22, 2019. (Photo: Kai Nagata/Dogwood BC)

There are a number of recent developments on the Trans Mountain file – from the reconsideration (“redo”) of the environmental assessment to unanswered questions about the federal government’s purchase price for the pipeline, and another (much quieter) NEB decision regarding rates for the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. And all of these events have made it increasingly clear that Trans Mountain is a bad deal for Canadians.

The “redo”

The National Energy Board’s (NEB) recent reconsideration report on the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) was, not surprisingly, a huge flop. But at least the report upholds one environmental value: the NEB recycled and reused the vast majority of its previous report, leaving 10 of the 14 chapters completely unchanged, aside from updating footnotes and changing “Aboriginal” to “Indigenous” throughout (because, reconciliation).

The “new” report (which recommended approving the project) did include one new chapter, one rewritten chapter, and minor changes to two chapters, following the 22-week NEB redo. Unfortunately, this did not ‘reduce’ the volume of the 689-page report.

The NEB’s reconsideration process was required after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the 2016 federal approval of TMX in August 2018. The court found that the NEB’s exclusion of marine shipping from the initial environmental assessment resulted in a report so deficient that it could not be considered a valid report for the Cabinet to rely on in its decision.

The court’s ruling also held that constitutionally-required consultation with affected First Nations – a separate process from the NEB review – was “well below the standard” set by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Unsurprisingly, the NEB once again recommended approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, suggesting 156 conditions (one less than the 157 it suggested last time), and 16 non-binding recommendations.

As expected, the Board found that the project would likely cause “significant adverse environmental effects” on the endangered southern resident killer whales, and the Indigenous cultural use associated with them. They also found that greenhouse gas emissions from project-related marine vessels would be significant, and that a worst-case oil spill would be significant (duh). MORE

How This B.C. Activist Became The Oil Industry’s Number One Enemy

Tzeporah Berman has been instrumental in delaying or stopping 21 oil projects. Her next target: the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Tzeporah Berman Ms Chatelaine sits on a log by the ocean, looking out across the beach
Photo, Johann Wall.

Last December, environmental activist Tzeporah Berman joined thousands of activists, scientists, policy makers and industry reps in Katowice, Poland, for COP24, the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference. She was scheduled to present a comprehensive analysis of the increase in Canada’s oil and gas emissions. Berman has been to many such gatherings, but Katowice, located in the heart of Poland’s coal country, provided a particularly bitter lesson in the contradictory nature of climate change talks. “I would leave my hotel and walk through coal-choked streets, coughing, to get to the climate negotiations,” she says.

Once there, the irony only deepened: While Berman listened to the world’s experts on renewables talk breathlessly about price drops and leaps in technology, in the room next door, Canadian government representatives cozied up to execs from Suncor. The next day, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented its grim Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C. “I’d never seen scientists like that before,” she says, “near tears, frantic and scared, saying it’s worse than we thought.”

Since she was 23, when she first helped coordinate logging protests in B.C.’s Clayoquot Sound, Berman’s mission has been to bring together political enemies (those experts and Suncor execs). In 1993, during what was dubbed “The War in the Woods,” she famously organized blockades that got her arrested and charged with 857 counts of criminal aiding and abetting (the charges were ultimately stayed). Her determination, along with testy negotiations between environmental groups, logging companies and First Nations, ultimately protected the majority of the Sound’s remaining rainforest.

In the decades that followed, Berman became known as one of the country’s most formidable environmentalists, with a reputation as a passionate but pragmatic deal maker who could nimbly balance the needs of industry, the desires of politicians and the health of the planet. MORE