Two years ago, Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley reached what Tom Walkom calls a classic Canadian compromise:
The federal government would help Alberta Premier Rachel Notley exploit and transport bitumen from the province’s oilsands. In return she would support Trudeau’s demand for some form of national carbon tax.
In normal circumstances, it should have worked. But the circumstances aren't normal:
The circumstances today are far from normal. Climate change is not simply another blip in federal-provincial relations that can be resolved by, say, changing the equalization formula.
If the scientific consensus is correct, it is a crisis on par with worldwide nuclear war.
Already, climate change is producing unusually severe droughts in some areas and unusually wild storms in others. It threatens to swamp much of Florida. It is melting the Arctic ice.
It has expressed itself through flooding in Europe and devastating wildfires in British Columbia, California and Alberta. It is generally accepted as one of the root causes of the Syrian civil war and is expected to lead to more conflict.
The federal Conservatives and their provincial brethren are ostrichs. They have their heads in the oil sands. Yet they claim that economics is their strong suit. They refuse to recognize that the oil sands are no longer economically viable:
Economically, the oil sands are doomed. In a world awash with cheap shale oil, new tar sands projects are ultimately too expensive to develop — even if the $4.5-billion Trans Mountain pipeline that Ottawa bought to deliver Alberta bitumen to the Pacific coast goes ahead.
Environmentally, they are a disaster — in terms of both the tailing ponds created to store their waste and the carbon emissions they spew into the air.
Our politicians refusing to admit a painful truth. The goo in northern Alberta -- one way or another -- will have to stay in the ground. Coming to terms with that reality is very painful. But, one way or another, a reckoning is coming.
Image: United Church Observer