Rivers: A Thought on Some of the Cabinet seats Trudeau has to Fill.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 14th, 2019


“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” (Greta Thunberg)

For a minority government to survive it will need support from one or more of the other parties – each has their own priorities.

For the NDP, Greens and BQ a top priority is for the federal government to do more about reducing Canada’s carbon footprint. And that is exactly the opposite of what the opposition Tories are looking for.

Canada’s environmental performance among G7 nations has been graded a big fat failure. Along with the USA and Japan, we would push the world’s thermometer up 4 C, almost three times the Paris agreement goal of 1.5 C.

Pipeline -Transmountain

Canada is the fourth largest oil producer in the world and fourth largest oil exporter.

Alberta is the largest source of Canada’s carbon emissions. And despite all the noise about how the oil industry is dying, Canada is the fourth largest oil producer in the world and fourth largest oil exporter, even without any more pipelines. In fact Canada exports even more oil than we use domestically.

Jason Kenney arrives for a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

And while investment in new oil development has petered-off since the oil price crash back in 2015, Alberta is still the wealthiest province in the federation with the highest per capita incomes. So when Jason Kenney says that the rest of Canada doesn’t understand the west, he means that we don’t get that he wants even more… money. He’ll tell you that Alberta’s oil contributes to our high standard of living, and he’s right though that would be less the case were he to be successful in dismantling Canada’s income equalization program.

On that note, it wasn’t even ‘Albert’s oil’ before the federal government deeded natural resources to the prairie province in the 1930’s. Not that we should expect a thank you, but recall how former premier Lougheed beat up Justin’s father when he introduced a plan to share those national resources for the benefit of the rest of the country, and wean us off foreign oil in the process. The irony clearly escapes Albertans when they demand more pipelines, because Pierre’s government would have built them all under that program.

And today, there is monumental disconnect in vision between the oil producing provinces and the rest of us Canadians. After all, two thirds of us voted for a political party whose main policy was to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, not increase it.

Western Canada republic

An unhealthy similarity to the southern United States.

So using the ‘best defence is an offence’ argument, Mr. Kenney and Mr. Moe have declared a kind of civil war. Yes, their demand for the provincial right to unimpeded oil patch development has an unhealthy similarity to the southern US states once demanding their right to maintain slavery.

How is a prime minister supposed to govern a nation so badly divided? Mr. Scheer has counseled appeasement. Cancel the carbon tax and ram through pipelines everywhere to allow the western provinces to reinvigorate investment in the oil sector. That is exactly what he would have tried to do had he been elected.

But that will not fly with the rest of the country, especially not in Quebec or B.C. which are opposed to more pipelines and have their own carbon pricing systems in place. Mr. Moe left his meeting with Trudeau complaining that Justin wasn’t listening. But it’s not so much about listening as about the message.

Catherine McKenna

Catherine McKenna: Minister of the Environment.

So when Trudeau fashions his new Cabinet he will need to make reconciling those western secessionist voters a priority. At a minimum that will require some fresh faces in the key area of national dispute, climate change. Catherine McKenna has been a great voice for the fight against climate change, leading the introduction of some 50 measures to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, including the carbon tax.

McKenna has been passionate, and even combative, on the environment in dealing with premiers like Mr. Ford. And In return she has been ridiculed by the ultra-right media and been the victim of personal threats to herself and her family. It would be a surprise were she to stay in that portfolio when the PM announces his new cabinet next week. But second guessing the making of a Cabinet is a fool’s game – only the PM knows.


Chrystia Freeland – kept the NAFTA negotiations on the table and moving.

Though there is brilliant and talented Chrystia Freeland. She’s this rock star and skilled negotiator who kept the NAFTA file together, despite an unpredictable US President Trump. An Alberta native herself, she is also a Rhodes scholar and former writer with a number of journals including the business oriented Economist. She is also widely admired by most Canadians, some even suggesting she should be our next PM.

Changing the channel in the oil patch provinces would be a challenge deserving of her skills. It is a tall order and failure is not an option. History will show that it was mainly Pierre Trudeau who kept Quebec in Canada during those early seventies. And now it’s up to his son to make sure we shore up the west.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Greta–     Climate Standoff –     No Help From Quebec

Emissions by Province –     Oil Industry

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10 comments to Rivers: A Thought on Some of the Cabinet seats Trudeau has to Fill.

  • Gary

    “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you.

    Seriously. This piece of incoherence is what passes for deep thought and is worth reprinting? She needs to stay in school and get a rudimentary education and then come and yell at us.

    You could have offered an explanation to the transfer of resources in 1930. Essentially its purpose was to bring the western provinces in line and equal to the eastern provinces that already enjoyed control of natural resources. And, I suspect since it was 1930, and the Depression, offloading administrative costs to the provinces might have had a role in the decisions.

  • David

    Just looked at CO2 emissions by country on Wikipedia, and I think I might have a solution. Playing with the numbers a little I have discovered that if we move the entire population of Canada to China our per capita emissions would be less to negligible….Or am I missing the point?

  • gfraser

    Ray River:

    “But second guessing the making of a Cabinet is a fool’s game – only the PM knows.”

    That is hilarious. You are certainly correct about the PM!

    Admitting it, is always the first step to self-insight. Congratulations grasshopper.


  • Ray Rivers

    Dave – thanks for your comment. My apologies as I meant to include this link…

    “The report card says Canada’s current policies are consistent with global warming exceeding 4 C compared to pre-industrial levels, more than twice the stated goal of the Paris agreement of staying as close to 1.5 C as possible. The United States and Japan are also both in the 4 C category, while the other four G7 members, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, have policies consistent with more than 3 C in warming.”

  • Stephen White

    The election should have been a wake up call to the PM that his sanctimonious, unctuous, “holier-than-thou” aproach to leadership has worn really thin, really fast with voters. In order to regain public confidence he needs to listen better and appoint people to Cabinet who can do a much better job of communicating and engaging with the public. That being said, Ministers such as Morneau, Joly and McKenna who have repeatedly displayed a lack of tact and conciliation should find a nice comforable seat on the backbenches. Others, such as Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor or Mark Holland, the MP from Ajax, are deserving of promotion.

  • Dave L

    Dateline May 27 2019 St John’s … “But you know,I actually gave some real advice. I said that if you actually say it louder we’ve learned in the House of Commons,if you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it” Catherine Mckenna
    Also Ray please elaborate on Canada along with the US and Japan raising worlds thermometer by 4 C? Some context and sources would be appropriate I believe.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I’m not optimistic that this federal government is going to be very productive. Canada is based on cooperative federalism but Trudeau now faces increasing demands by Quebec and the West. It takes a skilled negotiator/facilitator who knows the meaning of the word “compromise” to get things done in the current political environment; it is unfortunate that Trudeau is a spoiled dilettante so used to getting his own way that the concept of compromise is alien to his being. As it is, he appears to be courting the support of the BQ to prop up his government and pandering to Quebec interests, which Trudeau is so interested in, will not sell in the rest of Canada. And the West–tired of being marginalized and financially exploited by Trudeau, are now standing up and flexing their economic muscle–expect a very rough ride ahead. The good news is that no political party has the resources to effectively fight another election in the near term, allowing the Conservatives to choose a new leader and effectively rebrand themselves in time for the next election.

    • Hans Jacobs

      Harper and Kenney were in power for 9 years.
      How many pipelines did they build? (Hint: NONE!)
      It’s always easier to find a scapegoat than to accept the facts; i.e., Alberta frittered away its Heritage Fund, instead of building it up for when the good times ended and it allowed tar sands exploitation to increase beyond the capacity to move the production. Now fracking has created a world glut of crude oil, causing the price to stay low, and Iran has just found a new 50 billion barrel oil deposit. It’s difficult to see how the low price and oversupply could be JT’s fault.

      • Phillip Wooster

        “Harper, Harper, Harper…………..” Really Hans, this Liberal deflection is old and tired. News flash–we are dealing with the current economic and political realities that exist in late 2019. And those are the problems that have to be solved.

      • Phillip Wooster

        Hans, it is a complete Liberal falsehood that no pipelines were built under Harper. There were 4: Anchor Loop Pipeline, Trans-Canada’s Keystone Pipeline (don’t confuse with Keystone XL, largely killed by Trudeau’s foreign ally, Obama), Alberta Ciipper, Enbridge’s Line 9 Reversal. And, of course, planning was well underway for Energy East and TransMountain before the Liberal regime in 2015 increased the regulatory burden to effectively kill them, consistent with Butts vision of destroying the Oil Sands.