Countries have broken up for very serious reasons: slavery, religion and ethnic tensions, for example. But no country has ever been at risk of breaking up because of a harmless gas like carbon dioxide. Canada could, thanks to an ideologically-driven federal government.
Carbon dioxide makes up a tiny portion (.04 per cent) of our atmosphere and is essential to life. It’s a trace gas that accelerates plant growth.
Yet the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrongly labels it pollution and believes it has to be sharply curtailed or future warming of the planet will result in catastrophe.
To Trudeau, saving the planet means weaning Canada off the use of fossil fuel (which produces carbon dioxide when burned). Despite Canada’s minuscule contribution to world CO2 emissions, and other countries aggressively adding new coal plants, climate zealots are obsessed with strangling Canada’s oil and gas industry.
However, the oil and gas industry is vitally important – it’s Canada’s largest export industry and essential to our continued economic prosperity.
During the 2015 federal election campaign and since, the Liberals have promised to reduce emissions to help address global warming, while still supporting Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Neither promise has been kept.
Pipeline projects have been stopped or slowed, meaning Alberta can’t get its oil to market. This is now strangling the lifeblood industry of Alberta’s economy, which has lost more than 100,000 oil-and-gas related jobs in the last three years.
It has also damaged Canada’s overall trade picture, and knocked the loonie down to around 74 cents compared to the American dollar (versus about 90 cents in an unsuppressed market).
And we’re not reducing emissions, despite coal plant closures, wind and solar power subsidies and other questionable actions.
Most Canadians recognize that the oil and gas industry is vital to the continued prosperity of the entire country. Most also believe that the marketplace should be the place where these decisions are made.
But other Canadians, ill-advised on economic realities, want the oil and gas industry to be phased out.
The mix of views means that the federal government and oil-and-gas producing provinces are on a collision course.
The country is headed for big trouble if the Liberals win the election this fall and continue with plans to phase out the oil and gas industry by stalling pipelines and thickening regulatory delays.
It’s not inconceivable that Alberta will seek either outright independence or an arrangement with the United States. Any serious talk of such options by Alberta would rock Canada. Without Alberta, capital markets would dive, and pension plans and the loonie would swoon.
Canada’s incredibly skewed equalization formula has Quebec receiving 70 per cent of the annual pot, with much of those massive yearly payments ultimately supported by the traditional economic bonanza from Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
Those massive money transfers have, effectively, bribed Quebec to stay in Confederation and are part of the glue holding the country together.
But were Alberta to head for the door, the federal government would have to revise or scrap the equalization program – threatening Quebec’s stability. The breakup of the country would likely be the result.
And all of this because Trudeau has fallen under the spell of the climate change industry and its obsession with reducing a harmless gas, carbon dioxide.
Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a senior fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy.