Sunny Phase

On Tuesday, the federal Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner, Jerry DeMarco, tabled a damning report about the Liberal government’s failure to make any sort of significant progress toward meeting its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction and climate change targets. ‘Unreliable’. ‘Can’t be trusted’. ‘Overly optimistic assumptions’. ‘Full of holes’. ‘Falls short’.

Etc. & Etc.

“This is not my first time sounding the alarm, and I will continue to do so until Canada turns the tide,” said DeMarco.

According to the commissioner, Canada is the only member country in the G7, an organization of super spewers and climate offenders, that has not cut emissions below 1990 levels. The rouge-iest in a rogues’ gallery. The worst of the worst. We’re #1! We’re #1!

All of this on the heels of what appears to be, uncontestably, the gravest wildfire season we have ever witnessed in this country. Over 6600 fires nationally, burning more than an estimated 18 million hectares, further contributing to our carbon emissions. Add to that, record breaking rises in temperatures on land and sea, flooding, air quality warnings.

Etc. & Etc.

A searing indictment of the environmental policies of the Trudeau government which, on its own, would be argument enough for tossing them to the curb come next election. Pure negligence on an issue that undergirds every other vital issue we face currently. Climate breakdown presages, if not societal collapse, a complete clearing of the table. End stop.

And yet, it’s hard to see that the government’s spectacular failure on this front is the reason they’re flailing helplessly in the polls. In an apparent electoral death spiral, Team Trudeau isn’t being eviscerated for what it hasn’t done on the climate file but for what it claims it’s doing but isn’t really. You still following? The Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner says the federal government isn’t doing nearly enough to meet its climate goals. The opposition is tubthumping that it’s doing too much. That government climate actions are too onerous, too expensive for Canada’s businesses and households to endure.

Now, the only honest broker in all this is the Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner. Pierre Poilievre, the Leader of the Official Opposition and Prime Minister-in-waiting, is full of shit. His party has no climate policy to speak of. If elected, somehow these conservatives would be worse than the nothing the Liberals have on offer currently. For anyone who’s been watching TV lately or stopped to watch an ad-wrapped streetcar pass them by, the Alberta government’s been full-court pressing on the dire future we’re all facing if the federal government continues on its reckless path of… not doing enough about the climate emergency? I guess. Not the intent of the advertising blitz, obviously, because this Alberta government, in the bag for the oil and gas industry, believes that doing anything, the barest minimum even, is already doing far too much.

Everyone involved is pretending to be engaged, either in support of or opposition to, a pretend… what? Pretend policy initiative? A chimerical battle with chimera? How dare you, sir, claim to do something you’re not doing, something we don’t approve of you doing in the first place! The doing of, we don’t approve of, not the not doing of. Just so our opprobrium is clear.

It isn’t.

And the farce gets farcier when, in desperation, the prime minister suspends the carbon ‘tax’ on home heating oil for the next couple years in what can only be interpreted as a political move, a pricing on fossil fuel use that contributes the barest of minimum to the overall cost, a pricing that serves as a sop at best, a gesture, more politically than data driven. An admission that it was never really about the climate in the first place. Politics first. Politics always.

And then they wonder why voters are so cynical.

This is the end result of a party built almost exclusively on a platform of ‘It Could Be Worse’. That’s not quite right. In 2015, the Trudeau Liberals’ ‘Sunny Ways’ campaign signaled brightly in the dour face of Stephen Harper that ‘It Could Be Better’ (details to follow). Once elected, it then became ‘It Could Be Worse’. Andrew Scheer. ‘It Could Be Worse’. Erin O’Toole. ‘It Could Be Worse’.

What happened, though, to ‘It Could Be Better’? Nearly a decade on and we’re staring directly into the face of It is certifiably worse. By almost every measure, but most certainly on the climate front. It could be better is no longer enough. We’ve move undeniably into the stage of It has to better. Or else.

All this play-acting would be tolerably sufferable if it were just the Trudeau government’s future at stake. It isn’t, however. We’re already experiencing the real-life consequences of its inactions, its inability or unwillingness to embrace and undertake bold efforts and move on from a sinking status quo. From its inception, however, the design was never meant for actual change. It simply aped the language of it.


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