Is Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau becoming as anti-evidence as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper?
So it would appear.
Both men attacked NDP candidate Linda McQuaig for repeating the wildly-published scientific fact that some of Alberta tar sands oil must “remain in the ground” to limit global warming.
During last Friday’s panel discussion on CBC’s Power & Politics Program, McQuaig, an author and journalist contesting the Toronto Centre riding, said, “A lot of people recognize that a lot of the oilsands oil may have to stay in the ground if we’re going to meet our climate change targets.”
McQuaig comments echoes a report published in the scientific journal Nature earlier this year, which stated that 85% of Canada’s tar sands must “remain in the ground” to limit global warming.
“85% of its reserve base of 50 billion barrels has to remain in the ground,” said Christophe McGlade, a research associate at University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) and lead author of the report.
The report also stated that the “unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves” in Canada, US, Russia and Saudi Arabia “is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 °C.”
“If we want to reach the two-degree limit in the most cost-effective manner, more than 80% of current coal, half of gas and one third of oil need to be classified as unburnable,” said McGlade.
Responding to McQuaid’s comments, Harper told reporters that the comments revealed “the NDP’s not-so-hidden agenda on development”. No surprises here. The Conservative leader is a staunch champion of fossil fuel profiteers. On Tuesday, the Guardian (UK), reported that the Harper government “spent several million dollars on a tar sands advocacy fund as its push to export the oil faltered“.
As usual, the Liberal leader tried to play it smart in his attack. Commenting on both Harper’s comments and the NDP’ official response, Trudeau said, “What we see from this exchange is that both of my opponents, Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair, are in extreme positions.”
The simple truth is: The Liberal leader was responding to McQuaig’s comments and he associated them with “extreme positions“. We’re not fools.
In fact, Trudeau is a more loyal tar sands salesperson than Harper. Just after being elected Liberal leader back in 2013, he traveled to Washington D.C. and shared his steadfast support for the (now doomed) Keystone XL pipeline with White House and other top American officials. He even blasted Harper for failing to push Keystone and other pipelines through.
But Trudeau’s pro-tar sands stance and disdain for internal dissent was illuminated after a Liberal candidate abruptly deleted a three-year-old tweet that contradicted his position. According to the Toronto Star, on July 26, 2012, Karina Gould, the Liberal candidate for Burlington, wrote, “It’s time to landlock Alberta’s tar sands”. Then the controversy erupted and she deleted the tweet.
In her new bestselling book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” Canadian author and activist, Naomi Klein, called for radical change to prevent catastrophic global warming. Radical change begins with honesty and courage in the national conversation on the key issues of our time.
As Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges has pointed out, Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels creates conditions that allows the Koch Brothers and other oil profiteers to “dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation“. Today Canada is experiencing the “Dutch Disease” and economic hiccups because of our heavy reliance on the Alberta tar sands.
Meanwhile, there are solutions. A report released by Clean Energy Canada late last year reveals that employment in Canada’s cleaned energy sector jumped 37 per cent in the last five years, exceeding employment in the fossil fuel-addicted energy sector.
Unfortunately, our partial democracy is not quite ready for such inconvenient truths. Still, instead of allowing the telling of inconvenient and science-based truths to get potential legislators in trouble, we should push back.
We need more Linda McQuaigs in the next Parliament.
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