The Prince wasn't buying it - will the country buy the plan Trudeau is hatching to get oil and gas moving across the country?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

September 30th, 2016



Mr. Trudeau went to the Big Apple, to the UN that is, and made another speech and made another splash. Come on, even those who didn’t vote for him have to be proud of Canada’s new PM capturing the hearts of the international crowd. But the Canadian media are getting a little bored with this international walk of fame.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ban Ki Moon, Secretary of the United Nations, showing the world the way.

Platitudes – that was the best they’d say about his speech. Canada promised something like 600 peacekeepers for Africa? But where in Africa? And did he seriously adapt Ronald Reagan’s sarcastic quip – I’m from Canada and I’m here to help? But the UN crowd soaked it up. After all with Canada being MIA at the UN for most of the last decade, a PM just showing up and offering support for the organization is worthy of their applause.

During last year’s campaign he made a habit of dropping bombshells. Legalizing weed, taxing the rich, transparent government, running a deficit, lifting the lot of First Nations, (finally) doing something about climate change and re-engaging with the global community. All of this has just whet the appetite of the media for even more sexy stuff, not platitudes. So Trudeau has only himself to blame.


Try as he might Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just wasn’t able to bring Prince George around to a hand shake or a high five.

Honeymoons don’t last forever. It hasn’t been a year since the election, but everybody wants their piece of the action in its entirety now, thank you very much. Grand Chief Stewart Philip, the leader of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, refused to participate in a ceremony with the PM and the visiting royal family in a not-so-subtle protest. Undoubtedly, he has a point, and his are genuine grievances, including a concern that the federal government would approve a new natural gas pipeline to transport BC gas to Asian markets.

And sure enough that is exactly what has happened. Despite Mr. Trudeau’s public position on global climate change; despite his advocacy for Canada’s First Nations’ rights; and despite placing a moratorium on oil tanker traffic to help kill the highly controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline, he has rubber-stamped a new natural gas pipeline, the Pacific Northwest LNG project.


BC Premier Christy Clark just might prove to be the ally the Prime Minister needs and at the same time deliver real economic benefits to her people. damage to the environment – that’s a different issue – isn’t it?

Oil is bad but gas is good? Well at least this gas project causes no heartburn to B.C. Premier Clark, as she anticipates the economic benefit from the scores of jobs it is promising. They used to call it clean energy. didn’t they? Some would argue that gas is a less damaging alternative, if used to replace coal for electricity generation. But it is a fossil fuel and therefore a greenhouse gas in either its raw state or during combustion.

So is Trudeau trying to have his cake and eat it as well? More than likely this is one of these grand compromises he sees in the general national interest. To get the energy-rich western part of this country onside with climate change plans he needs to give as well as take. He knows that inflexibility leads to deadlock. That is realpolitik.


Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was never able to get a pipeline into the ground – it just wasn’t the right time or was it a political inability to bring the right people together?

And the pipeline, which is slated to be on-line by 2020, may never get built anyway, given the glut of gas on the markets, cheaper alternative sources, and the hoops and hurdles the government has placed on this project. One item on that list includes a limit on greenhouse gases, intended to force the most environmentally efficient delivery of the gas.

It’s a win-win for Trudeau. If the pipeline doesn’t get built, it won’t be his fault. And not having to account for all those greenhouse gases will give him great bragging rights the next time he goes before the UN crowd. He’ll be able to claim global leadership without any critics crying… platitudes.

Unlike Mr. Harper’s oil pipeline, there was substantial sign-on among many indigenous folks, though as noted above, not all. And the irony of it all is that, if the pipeline actually goes into action, Trudeau, the environmentalist, will have built more pipeline in his first year than Mr. Harper did in his entire nine years in office.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers is an economist and author who writes weekly on federal and provincial issues, applying his 25 years of involvement with federal and provincial ministries.  Rivers’ involvement in city matters led to his appointment as founding chair of Burlington’s Sustainable Development Committee.  He was also a candidate in the 1995 provincial election

Background links:

When You Say Nothing at All –     Trudeau at the UN –
More UN – 

BC Chief and the Royals –

Trudeau Answers –

Transparent Supreme Court –

Pacific Northwest LNG – 

Northern Gateway – 

LNG Pipeline in Doubt –

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1 comment to The Prince wasn’t buying it – will the country buy the plan Trudeau is hatching to get oil and gas moving across the country?

  • Reading articles like this always gives me a sense of gladness that I would never, could never be in a public leadership position, in Canada or anywhere else. I wonder, though this is material for another article, what percentage of people aware of these issues just turns to something less personally disturbing, like sports or Hollywood gossip. We’ve tossed around the phrase “bread and circuses” for centuries, but what else keeps Joe Average from staring into the abyss?