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      Catastrophic Hypocrisy!
      Canadian Government Declares "National Climate Emergency" One Day, and Re-Approves Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion the Next

      By Thomas Davies

      Imagine the facial expression on the staff person writing up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s schedule this month. “June 17. 7pm – Declare ‘National Climate Emergency’. June 18. 4pm – Re-Approve Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX)” Hopefully one day they will write a memoir detailing the cynical planning that went into that 24 hour period, but for now, we have to wade through Trudeau and the mainstream media chorus doing their best to justify the two obviously contradictory announcements.

      “Vancouver gas prices are too high because the pipeline isn’t built.”

      “Canada doesn’t get enough money for its Tar Sands oil because it can’t get to Chinese markets.”

      “We need to restore ‘market confidence’ that we can get more big projects like this built.”

      “All the oil workers will lose their jobs if we don’t approve this.”

      “Canada is too small to make any real difference regardless.”

      We will get to each of these weak arguments individually, but it’s important to point out that neither Trudeau or the army of ‘expert’ newspaper columnists dared ask the two most simple and important questions:

      1. If the world’s best and broadest scientific consensus is that we are indeed in a “climate emergency” which threatens the future of humanity, and Canada is nowhere near its United Nations climate targets even before approving the Tar Sands Pipeline, how can we even consider approving it?

      2. Is the Trans Mountain Pipeline really the only reasonable possible solution for Canada’s economy, gas prices and green transition? Are there really no other good options? The Pipeline Will Fix Gas Prices?

      Despite the Alberta government spending millions of dollars on billboards all around Vancouver leading up to the TMX announcement, high gas prices are not because we don’t have another pipeline. Economist Robyn Allan, former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of BC, and Marc Eliesen, former chairman and CEO of BC Hydro and a former director of Suncor, wrote a 47-page report to the BC Utilities Commission to clarify that blaming price spikes on “chronic shortages” or lack of pipeline capacity appears “designed to serve the price gouging behaviour of suppliers rather than shed light on actual market factors and conditions.” The report found that just four suppliers - Suncor, Imperial, Shell and Parkland - control the market in the Lower Mainland and that these four suppliers are likely responsible for “excessive and volatile” prices since 2015.

      Mythical Asian Markets

      And those mythical “Asian markets” which are willing to pay a high price for Alberta bitumen? David Anderson, former Liberal Minister of Environment who served 10 years in the cabinets of prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, sent letters to six members of Trudeau’s cabinet emphasizing, “There is no credible evidence to suggest that Asia is likely to be a reliable or a significant market for Alberta bitumen.” Anderson detailed how Asian refineries already have better supply options with conventional light and medium crude oil from Nigeria and the Middle East because Alberta bitumen is expensive to produce, hard to handle, and provides no security of supply advantages.

      “Market Confidence” at the Expense of the Planet and Workers

      Do we really want to sacrifice the planet and the future to create “market confidence” so that huge unsustainable resource extraction mega-projects can be built? Just the opposite! Putting “the market” above all else is what got us into this mess in the first place. Especially when that always ends up being “ensuring corporate profits at the expense of all else.”

      The Corporate Mapping Project report, released by Parkland Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. office, analyzed the profits of Canada’s five largest oil producers. Turns out Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus, Imperial and Husky have remained “incredibly profitable” according to lead author Ian Hussey - with a combined aggregate gross profit of $46.6 billion in 2017. “There’s no question that the price crash had a major impact on the industry in Alberta, most importantly on the almost 20,000 workers who lost their jobs in 2015, but the Big Five are doing just fine,” Hussey said.

      The oil company executives might be doing fine, but what about the 400 workers who are losing their jobs as Suncor plans to build a fleet of more than 150 driverless hauling trucks over the next six years?

      What about the 35,000 unionized members of the B.C. Building Trades who had their Saturday overtime cut-back as the contractors association stalled negotiations and the Labour Board refused to allow them to strike before enforcing a settlement?

      Too Small to Make a Difference?

      Never one to lose an opportunity to try and turn back history, National Post columnist Rex Murphy called climate change, “a global problem what Canada has not the least competence to fix.” He was repeating an often employed tactic - used when it’s no longer possible to argue that Canada is being responsible for its carbon emissions. This rhetoric disregards a few important things. First, Canada has the world’s 10th largest economy. Second, Canada produces more greenhouse gas emission per capita than any other G20 country. “It’s because of the oilsands and because of transportation,” commented Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada. While transportation might be more understandable given that Canada also has the second largest land mass in the world – the Alberta oil sands is a massive polluter causing exponential damage to the environment.

      Cracks Showing

      Already the re-approval is on shaky ground. The Shxwowhamel First Nation has announced it now opposes the pipeline because the government’s consultation process was so weak. Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci, who was charged with overseeing the court-ordered consultations with Indigenous people, only met community leaders once, at a gathering with other Indigenous Nations in Vancouver. He did not satisfy community concerns that the construction route for the pipeline would run through an ancient village and desecrate or destroy a 1,400-year-old sacred site full of artifacts, 20 traditional homes (called pit houses), and possible gravesites.

      The Shxwowhamel First Nation will now join the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Squamish Nation and the Coldwater community who have all confirmed they will also challenge the re-approval of the pipeline project.

      Writing in the National Observer on June 27, Sven Biggs, a campaigner for Stand. Earth, also summarized, “The last time we checked in with the National Energy Board, only two of seven segments of the Trans Mountain pipeline route were fully approved. Over a quarter of the new pipeline route has not been approved. And 25 hearings have yet to take place — including for the Fraser River crossing, Burnaby Mountain tunnel, and areas where schools, homes and municipal water supplies are at risk. As of the latest public update from the province of British Columbia, 658 permits are still being reviewed and 243 have not even been applied for.”

      Our Struggle Continues, the Movement is Growing

      So while all of the arguments thrown out by politicians and mainstream media pundits are weak at best, they are also irrelevant if we choose not to disregard the scientific realities – as people like Justin Trudeau and Rex Murphy do on purpose. The political reality is also one where inequality is growing and the cost of living is increasing much faster than wages. Clearly, the status quo is not sustainable for the planet or the vast majority of people living on it. Clearly, there are more solutions than just building this pipeline.

      It has been ten years of disappointing government and corporate announcement about the TMX pipeline, but it has also been ten years that communities have come together to make sure it has not been built. Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to get bigger, broader and bolder in our actions. The climate and economic crises negatively impact the vast majority of people - that makes for a lot of potential allies. We need to continue to educate, organize and mobilize to demand the government cancel the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, and focus on real solutions for the people and the planet instead of pipelines and profits.

      Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59

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