Canadians are polarized between the economy and the environment. Justin Trudeau says we can have both. And, to that end, Catherine McKenna has introduced a new set of rules which she says will put the economy and the environment in harmony. Tim Harper writes:
In unveiling a new environmental regulatory process McKenna was dealing with one of the defining dilemmas of this Liberal mandate, the crowded intersection between jobs, investment, climate change and Indigenous rights.
That's a Gordian Knot to be sure. And untangling that knot will always involve politics:
Elected politicians have to make hard decisions based on the national interest, the minister said, and streamlining and simplifying the regulatory process and explaining decisions simply and promptly to Canadians will not purge the process of politics.
The most prominent example of that fact is the Kinder-Morgan pipeline:
It was approved under the discredited process under Stephen Harper that McKenna would dismantle with her legislation, not given the full review Trudeau had promised during a campaign stop in British Columbia in 2015.
It would have been approved under the new regulations she announced Thursday, and she echoed the prime minister in stating bluntly that the Kinder Morgan expansion would go ahead.
While accusing Harper of favouring politics over science in gutting environmental regulations, McKenna went on to explain the political considerations in the Kinder Morgan approval.
Without Notley’s initiatives in Alberta there would be no national climate plan, McKenna said, and in that context the Liberals gave the go-ahead to the Kinder Morgan expansion Notley so desperately wanted.
In other words, the political equation meant that the Liberals needed a supportive NDP government in Alberta more than the seats it may lose in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2019.
The Kinder Morgan expansion may have been in the national interest, but it was also in the Liberals’ interest, particularly with a nemesis, Kenney, ready to challenge Notley at the polls next year.
Kenney is waiting in the wings. And Ontario's PC's are planning to ditch the carbon tax that Kathleen Wynne's Liberals -- and the former PC leader Patrick Brown -- supported.
The beat goes on.
Image: Green Lifestyle Magazine