BINNION: Justin, just wait on that ‘just transition’

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Hold on, wait just one minute.

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Didn’t we have an election a just few days ago? Yet shockingly, the comment period for the Liberal government’s ‘Just Transition’ proposal ends Thursday. The same ‘Just Transition’ that would shut down Canada’s largest industry and main source of export income.

Canadians, understandably, were a little preoccupied the last few weeks with an unnecessary election no one but Trudeau wanted. Perhaps the distraction and the short deadline for public consultation are a sign they may not honestly want your ideas on how to make the ‘transition’ less painless and more ‘just.’ The ‘just’ part refers to the current internationally funded and organized campaign for climate justice, which more and more is being conflated with social and racial justice.

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And let’s not fool ourselves. The transition will be far from painless as hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs. Not my idea of ‘just.’

Personally, I was thinking there might be a speech from the Throne after an election. You know, to tell Canadians what the agenda of the Government will be.

The old government didn’t have a strong mandate as a minority government. And the only thing that is clear from the recent election is Canadians want this kind of cooperative parliament governing through loose coalitions. They have voted for it twice now. A plurality of Canadians did not buy in to any of the main parties’ visions for the future. Instead, they seem to like when parties come together to make policy.

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Voting for the same parliament and giving no party a majority does not seem like an endorsement for change. But ending an entire industry by fiat might fit neatly into many Canadians definition of noticeable change. The hundreds of thousands of Canadians living in communities across the country who depend on oil and gas may be forgiven for going so far as to think it significant change.

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Given the ambiguous mandate, any significant change deserves real consultation with Canadians and multi-partisan support.

Yet in the last election there was no real discussion of ending the oil industry, letting it continue, or on a third option for climate. Western Canada has a world-leading initiative for energy transformation through the new carbon technologies of the circular economy. Oil and gas has a real prospect of winning the race to net-zero emissions. So why are we introducing legislation to phase out an industry that could be winning the race to net-zero?

This is the same Government who introduced UNDRIP requiring consultation with First Nations — ironically without meaningful consultation with First Nations. There is certainly no time before Sept. 30 for genuine consultation, nation to nation with Indigenous peoples, as this government committed itself to only a few short months ago. Which may be by design since Canada’s First Nations are increasingly involved in the oil and gas industry and actually looking for more ways to be involved. Yet their views are not being heard.

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In the English language election debate, Erin O’Toole made the point that if Canada withdraws from the oil and gas markets we will be replaced by less responsible producers. His point was that phasing out the best and most responsible producer in the world makes no sense from a global climate perspective. His point was not addressed in the debate or during the election campaign at all.

There needs to be a serious discussion not just about Trudeau’s ‘climate justice’ agenda but also about whether his policies might unintentionally make things worse for the planet.

Trudeau just needs to hold on a minute. Sept. 30 is far too short a time to have that conversation unless it is Sept. 30, 2022.

— Michael Binnion is the executive director of the Modern Miracle Network

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