By Hugh Holland
In the September 20, 2022, meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, a very frustrated Secretary-General António Guterres said, “We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction,” adding that “our world is in peril — and paralyzed.” Pierre Poilievre’s platform, now or soon to become the Conservative Party’s platform, is not helping. It is full of illogical contradictions.
After 30 years of intense research, the world’s top 2,500 climate scientists in the World Meteorological Society (WMS) have declared the average global temperature is rising much faster than the natural rate, and the rise is caused mainly by human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels which still provide 80% of the world’s primary energy. Of course, we can all witness the effects of that in the daily news reports of the rising frequency and severity of very costly droughts, floods, fires, and windstorms around the world. The WMS estimates that we must get to net zero emissions by 2050 to avoid irreversible catastrophic climate change. Climate change can be mitigated, but Poilievre and many of his Conservative colleagues around the world have shown no credible plan to do so, and instead resist all proposals by other parties.
Most of the world’s top economists say an effective tax on carbon is the only way to ensure all segments of the economy are engaged in the mitigation of climate change. Companies cannot manufacture good zero-emission transportation and construction and farming equipment if individuals and companies do not buy them. It must be noted that Canada’s carbon tax is designed to make people think at the point of purchase but is returned every quarter so as not to overburden taxpayers. But apparently, Poilievre knows better, and his main environmental strategy is to cancel Canada’s carbon tax.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) was founded in Davos Switzerland in 1971 to bring together a cross-section of political and business leaders each year to discuss significant issues that impact the world economy. It has no decision-making power but seeks to make recommendations that benefit the world community. Sound like a good idea? The WEF is funded by its members which usually consists of about 2,500 people from 100 nations. At its 2022 meeting, the top issues were identified as climate change, the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of globalization, health technology, and the changing nature of work. All key issues that Canada should have input into. The biggest risk was identified as the failure to act on climate change and the resulting extreme weather.
The Great Reset Initiative is an economic recovery proposal drawn up by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was launched in June 2020. Its stated aim was to facilitate rebuilding from the global COVID-19 crisis in a way that prioritizes sustainable development. Sound like a good idea? But the initiative triggered a range of ridiculous conspiracy theories spread by the American far-right and Conservative commentators on social media. Such theories include baseless claims that the COVID-19 pandemic was created by a secret group in order to seize control of the global economy, that lockdown restrictions were deliberately designed to induce economic meltdown, or that a global elite was attempting to abolish private property while using COVID-19 to enslave humanity with vaccines, etc., etc., etc.
In his campaign to lead the Conservative party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre repeated the above baseless claims and vowed he would not allow representatives from Canada to attend the WEF. So, Canada would have no window on, or input to, the WEF. Does that sound like the positive leader or protector of freedom he claims to be?
Poilievre also rails out about the government failing to protect Canada from inflation of food prices, even though it is generally recognized that the underlying causes of food cost inflation are global in nature, specifically climate change shrinking crops, the war in Ukraine, and pandemic’s impact on global supply chains of everything. The fact is that food inflation is a global phenomenon and Canada’s current performance is among the best with a 7% year-over-year increase in Canada compared to 13% in the USA, 10% in Australia, and 8% in the UK.
Since climate change is one major cause of food inflation, Poilievre’s opposition to a carbon tax is inconsistent with his desire to mitigate food inflation.
Poilievre ignores the facts that after 3 years of relatively effective pandemic relief measures, Canada’s Covid-19 death rate is one-third of other similar G7 countries, Canada has the G7’s absolute lowest net debt as a percent of GDP, and Canada is one of only 9 countries with an AAA credit rating. But Poilievre would “remove the gatekeepers” such as the bank of Canada, which no doubt means Mr. Freedom would first create chaos, and then install his own gatekeepers.
In summary, Poilievre’s stated policies are inconsistent with having Canada in the usual position of being a positive and contributing member of the world community in addressing the day’s most pressing problems, especially the mitigation of climate change and all its physical and economic ramifications.
In summary, some key points are worth repeating. There are 3 very good reasons for this energy revolution. And there is still time to mitigate these 3 reasons, provided there is not too much resistance to the needed changes. But fear of the inevitable is emanating from oil and gas producing states and provinces and is a major cause of short-sighted thinking, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and vitriol infecting today’s public discourse. Our federal government can and is helping to turn the energy revolution into a positive force for the oil and gas producing provinces as well as the entire country. Like old energy, each new type of energy has its strengths and weaknesses. But we need them all.
Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.
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