A great sadness swept over me when a respected colleague asked if I would write about the election. The feeling is akin to being a lifer in prison and having someone ask you if you would rather go to Hawaii next week, or Fiji. If you weren’t in prison. You’d just want to bash their head in with a rock (because this is a prison analogy), and while I didn’t want to bash anyone’s head in with a rock (for the most part), I had zero enthusiasm to offer commentary, and that was even before the results were known. But, as with the right to vote, it is or should be a small celebration of the fact that we can vote, that we have an ungodly privileged life to be thankful for, and that we are all incredibly fortunate to live in this era of the human experience.
Having said that, the fact remains that it gives me hives to consider the completely unnecessarily fractured state of our country, and how it is now likely going to be heightened.
Foundationally, Canada is a pretty centrist place. We’ve had conservatives and liberals take turns running the nation, and, to be honest, sometimes the policies are hard to align ideologically. In recent history, both Harper and Trudeau have done things that exhilarated and exasperated their loyal followers on ideological grounds alone.
But we have sort of gone beyond that to a stupidly polarized nation whereby the age-old battles over soft-left/soft-right policies are no longer the battleground. We’ve moved from that understandable (if irritating) landscape to a new adrenaline-junkie/artificial/fast-paced/intellectually bankrupt landscape, where the nerves are exposed to social media acid, where appeal is micro-managed and fake and fear-driven, in a media stream so sensationalistic and frenzied and warped that the only rational response for the average citizen is to pound their fingers with a hammer to give themselves something else to think about.
This all came to me during coverage of last night’s election. For full disclosure, I began watching at about 7:30, and ceased watching at about 7:33, after hearing Green leader Elizabeth May speak. She mentioned how she was hoping for a strong Green showing because it would be best for the climate. Within twelve seconds of hearing that, I’d leapt back to Judge Judy reruns, and felt much better, and never looked back (not totally true; later I spent a good 5 minutes checking out the final carnage).
What was so disturbing about May’s comments was her use of the word “climate” as the defining fulcrum for the value of her party and the election. For more full disclosure, I would have loved to support the Green party, and at one time I did. That was in the days when the Green party was about the environment. But it’s not fundamentally interested in the environment anymore, it’s “the climate.” That is a huge difference, and one that is leading this once-fine country towards disaster.
Look where we’ve landed. Canada is a resource-rich, resource-exporting, underpopulated, huge, beautiful, untapped gem of a country. We have it all. We have diversity, talent, wealth, nature in abundance, fantastic urban cities, scenery to die for, clean water, social safety nets the likes of which the world has never seen, and a lifestyle that (despite the cold) is as close to perfect as humans have ever been.
But we’re letting it all be ripped apart by bizarre factions that take it all for granted, and demand even more.
We now find ourselves at the mercy of ideological wingnuts, of overly-idealistic and unrealistic zealots who have grabbed control. These fringe parties are unelectable in their own right, because the vast majority of the population wouldn’t support them, and because their platforms are those of people who have never had the responsibility of power and are obviously clueless as to how things actually work. We would never allow extremists into power if they threatened to obliterate Canada’s social safety nets, yet we now have no problem electing extremists who are willing to obliterate large swathes of Canada’s economy.
We now have not just the tail wagging the dog, but the lunatics running the asylum. We have parties pledging to get Canada off fossil fuels in some short time frame, when they have absolutely no clue as to how difficult that will be. We have these same parties allowing the legendarily useless UN dictate our policies and governing philosophy, all made possible by a concerted effort to frighten the population witless about the pending horrors of climate change. We’ve abdicated all responsibility for actually governing and leading, and replaced it with the equivalent of a high-school popularity contest where rational standards of value have been thrown out the window to show everyone how cool we are by shot-gunning 6 beers in a row.
No matter what soup Ottawa makes out of this bucket of fish heads, it sort of doesn’t matter. Energy is off anyone’s radar as a force of good, unless it’s renewable energy, and then it is nothing but good. Wind and solar are indeed excellent, interesting, inspiring energy sources – but not remotely able to power our world.
But no one will listen to any such talk; to even say so is to earn a searing brand on the forehead as some sort of child-hating, big-oil-loving, insensitive, ecosystem-bulldozing Neanderthal. That’s because the issue has been made political and surreal. We can’t even do what’s right, like, fighting for the environment which is logical and worthwhile; the fight is now for the climate which is political and hate-filled and impossible.
This mentality has infiltrated the Liberal party in a huge way also, just as it has the NDP and Greens, and this is massively unfortunate. They will have to find out the hard way that politicizing the environment is an unmitigated disaster. They will have to find out many things the hard way, such as that people will not give up their lifestyles for anything, no matter how doom laden the forecast. If scaring people was all it takes to change behaviour, every citizen would have socked away at least 10 percent of their earnings for retirement, we’d all be able to run a 10 k race, and we’d all be able to touch our toes when we’re 60. All of those are possible, and all are demonstrably valuable, yet almost no one can tick all these fundamentally important achievements off of life’s to-do list. We know these things, but most don’t bother. And so it will be with giving up life’s creature comforts for some theoretical danger thirty years hence.
We now have to wait in this energy-purgatory until something blows up. Nothing convinces people like a good explosion, or losing their heat in winter. As in, if some radical wingnut finally and properly disables/destroys a pipeline, and/or if the natural gas infrastructure gets so throttled that it can’t deliver what it needs in times of extreme demand.
The fear of an eventually warming planet, with decades to prepare for it, has resoundingly and fearlessly stuffed into a trunk any voices that question how we might survive in the near term without adequate fossil fuel supplies.
That level of cult-brainwashing is impenetrable; we can’t stage interventions to explain this to the mob because the grip is too strong, like drinking the kool aid in Jonestown all over again. Fear works rather well as a motivator, as various nefarious institutions have demonstrated well throughout the course of history. We are simply in another dark age.
We will not even get to see the “ok, you take the keys” moment. That’s the precise point in time when newly elected officials, ones who had been actively opposed to certain things, suddenly find themselves in power and quickly decide those things aren’t so bad after all. It happened to Rachel Notley, who rapidly learned to love pipelines; it happened to John Horgan when he realized the critical importance of getting an LNG terminal built; it happened to Trudeau himself when he stood up (exceptionally meekly, but he did stand up) at the approval of the Trans Mountain expansion and spoke of how oil and natural resource development was necessary for Canada’s economic wellbeing (in the background, standing on stage just behind Trudeau, the staples forcing Catherine McKenna’s face into a smile were clearly visible).
Now, we have the very real possibility that a Liberal minority government will rule with, and be run by, unelectable lunatics who hold the balance of power. Perhaps they will horse-trade like the Greens did in BC to allow construction of an LNG export terminal, but this is unlikely on the national stage. In BC, the benefits were huge, obvious, and undeniable; on the federal stage, any party supporting the Liberals will be highly unlikely to support anything to do with energy when the Liberals themselves only showed lukewarm support for the sector in the first place.
Dark days are coming, perhaps literally if the “climate” agenda wins over the “environmental” agenda, and there is every indication that it will. Soon, when people talk about Canada’s separatist movement, Quebec won’t be the default anymore. The big difference this time around? Quebec wanted to separate because of their cultural feelings; Alberta (and whomever else) will want to separate because they are denied the ability to exercise provincial powers over resource development. We’ll find out which is the more powerful soon enough.
Energy literacy is more critical today than it was yesterday. Luckily, help is available! Pick up a copy of “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Indigo online. These Amazon reviews may be the wisest material you’ll find on the internet (except that one loser).