Hey, Jason: Are you tired of losing yet?
The Premier's "Fight Back Strategy" has endured a string of embarrassing defeats lately, but this one takes the cake. Also: I subject myself to a Suits and Boots video so you don't have to
Yesterday’s Supreme Court of Canada decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax didn’t come as a surprise to those who were watching it closely, but it certainly came as a relief. Now, after years of filibustering by provincial governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, we can get on with the business of building a low-carbon economy in Canada.
History, meanwhile, may have a different word to describe these five men.
But while Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has already conceded to the obvious and hinted that his government will impose its own carbon tax, the other losers here don’t appear to have gotten the memo yet. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, whose province was an intervenor in the challenge to the federal carbon plan and its jurisdiction, plans to press ahead with his own lawsuit against Ottawa. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, meanwhile, still seems unwilling to acknowledge the choice that now stands in front of him: allow Ottawa to continue sending rebate cheques to Albertans, or impose his own “made-in-Alberta” (oh, where have we heard that before?) carbon tax.
To any rational person, this defeat would mark the end of his much ballyhooed “fight back strategy” — one that has, so far, delivered nothing but humiliating losses for Alberta. Whether it’s the Allan inquiry commissioning research that trades in conspiracy theories or the War Room picking fights with children’s cartoons, Kenney’s armies of truth have been handed defeat after defeat after defeat. But while losing in the Supreme Court of Canada might seem like his Waterloo, I fully expect Kenney to keep fighting. As I wrote for the National Observer yesterday, the fighting is the point — and the fighting (and the beatings) will continue until morale improves.
If at first you don’t succeed….
You might think, given its well-documented track record of failure, that the War Room wouldn’t be given control over a file as important as the Government of Alberta’s new ESG push. But according to reporting in the Globe and Mail, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
This is, to be blunt, a ruinously stupid idea. If the War Room can’t handle a children’s cartoon without blowing it into an international incident, what are the odds that they can handle a file as complex and heavily-scrutinized as the growing focus on ESG credentials?
Oh, and speaking of ruinous stupidity: after some gentle prodding from a couple of readers, I decided to watch the interview with Suits and Boots chair Rick Grafton (still spelled “Gafton” on their website, somewhat ironically) from their recent online conference. Here’s my Twitter thread on the silliness that ensued.
For years now, we’ve been told that Canada’s oil and gas industry is more ethical than its competitors — and the people doing the telling often enjoy pointing to Russia as an example of one of the countries we’re better than. But apparently we’re not too good to take their money, given the recent news that a Russian oligarch has taken a major position in a Canadian oil and gas producer.
This isn’t, in and of itself, a problem. Free markets are exactly that, and people are welcome to buy (and sell) whatever they like. The same is true of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which took a stake in some of Canada’s biggest oil sands producers last year. But as I wrote for Maclean’s last May, it means we should probably dial the moral outrage back a few notches.
Does Canada have better environmental standards than Russia and Saudi Arabia? Absolutely. Do our laws protect minorities and ensure that workers are treated with more decency and dignity than they are there? Of course. Does the oil and gas industry deserve any credit for this? Not a chance.
Ezra Levant’s Ethical Oil argument has failed to convince anyone of consequence for over a decade, and it should have been laid to rest a long time ago. There are far better ones that the oil and gas industry can, and should, be using. But don’t count on that happening any time soon.
One cool thing: Project Arrow
I am, I admit, far too young to remember the kerfuffle around the Avro Arrow, and the Canadian government’s decision to bury it at the behest of the American government. But it lives on in our collective memory as an example of Canadian exceptionalism and achievement, and now that memory is being put to work on behalf of a very important project: a made-in-Canada electric vehicle.
As the Toronto Star’s Jacob Lorinc wrote, the project is aimed at turning Canada’s auto-parts expertise into an opportunity to crack a fast-growing global market. Flavio Volpe, the delightfully named president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, says it’s a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity for Canada. “There’s never been a bigger opportunity for a new entrant, in the history of the automotive game,” he said.
Project Arrow enlisted the help of several Canadian post-secondary schools, to help engineer and design the vehicle, and has enlisted companies spanning several levels of the supply chain to help assemble it. The substances for the battery technology will come from Quebec’s mines in Val d’Or and Madawaska, Volpe says. The artificial intelligence and machine-learning components will be developed by companies in Montreal and Quebec City.
Let’s hope this Arrow turns out better than the last one.