Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Those Who Adapt

The Leap Manifesto appears to be tearing the New Democratic Party apart. But, Tom Walkom writes, it's hardly a radical document. And a number of its recommendations are being advocated or implemented:

Like Ottawa and virtually every provincial government, the manifesto calls for investment in clean energy projects. As Ontario has found with its windmill policy, this isn’t always a politically painless process. But except for the manifesto’s suggestion that, (as in Germany and Denmark) such projects be community-controlled, it is hardly novel.
In fact, the Trudeau Liberals have already promised to undertake many of the manifesto’s recommendations. They have said they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; they have pledged to invest in public transit and green infrastructure.

Like the federal NDP, the manifesto calls for a national child-care program. Like the federal NDP (sometimes) and both U.S. Democratic presidential candidates, the manifesto opposes trade deals that limit government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.
Like former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, the authors favour imposing a financial transaction tax to help pay for all of this.

The stumbling block is the manifesto's insistence that we build no more pipelines. In Alberta that's heresy -- understandably. But the world is changing. And energy is no longer spelled O. I. L.

Those who adapt will survive. Those who don't will meet the same fate as the creatures who gave us fossil fuels. 



Lorne said...

Great to see you back in action, Owen! i wrote on the same subject this morning, and as I wrote it I was thinking this is exactly the kind of topic Owen would be posting on were he in better health.

Owen Gray said...

Recent events have caused my wife and I to re-evaluate, Lorne. As we grow older, we all have adapt. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

Anonymous said...

The Alberta NDP has an outdated parochial attitude similar to the federal NDP of the past; that being of a strong local labour and union supporter. However, things have changed, claims the Manifesto, including a call to a new internationalism and the dismantling of the present economic globalization model along with its hugely wasteful, perhaps even immoral energy and resource demands. Justin Trudeau's election, I believe, is a historic marker of this techno/enviro/generational change and that the federal NDP, and for that matter every politician from around the world, as well, if they don't face up to the future now, then certain oblivion awaits.

Owen Gray said...

We really have reached a watershed moment, Anon. The old bromides will not get us into the future.

The Mound of Sound said...

"The stumbling block is the manifesto's insistence that we build no more pipelines. In Alberta that's heresy -- understandably." Understandably, really? Owen, substitute "bitumen" for "asbestos." Both are immensely destructive to human life only bitumen will keep killing for, well, effectively forever. I think people in central Canada don't grasp this. I also think that Walkom, like so many, easily forget that no one has any idea how to clean up a coastal spill of bitumen. All the Exxon Valdez carried was mere conventional crude. 27-years on, Prince William Sound remains contaminated. Trudeau has never demonstrated any "magic wand" technology for cleaning a bitumen spill because none exists.

There's a growing conversation out here about whether we can live with this petro-state mentality. Our best hope might be to part company. That thinking is not yet at a critical mass but one bitumen spill could be enough.

Owen Gray said...

I used to teach in the Eastern Townships, Mound, a half an hour away from the largest open pit mine in the world -- in a town called Asbestos. A big hole is all there is left now. The town is still on the map, but nothing is happening there.

A half an hour away -- in the opposite direction -- is Valcourt, where the Bombardiers got their start, making snowmobiles and dirt bikes. When the dirt bikes didn't pan out -- despite the labour they had imported from California -- they got into trains and airplanes.

Peter Lougheed wanted to leverage oil to build a diversified economy. His sucessors got caught in a resource trap.