Contributed by Robert Lyman ©2019
Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant, former public servant of 27 years and prior to that he was a diplomat for 10 years.
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Canadians may view the federal government’s global warming policies as detached from other political and policy objectives, and not part of a broader national or international framework. The 2018 report by Global Affairs Canada containing a “voluntary national review” of Canada’s progress in meeting the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development shows that this is not true.
In the paper that follows, I quote extensively from the report in order to give precise examples of the rationale that governs the Federal government’s approach and to show that it is part of an integrated whole. For those used to traditional public policy goals, the document is surprising, and in some respects quite alarming
Reports of this kind historically have been dry recitations of programs and expenditures made in keeping with an international commitment. This document, instead, uses language typical of a federal Budget, full of striking, almost bombastic statements about the radical transitions in social, economic and environmental conditions that the government seeks to make. Further, the tone is not consensual, clearly representative of a wide range of viewpoints and regional perspectives in Canada. It is strident and ideological, a bold declaration that “progressive” values and highly interventionist approaches take primary place in the government’s thinking. The priorities are strikingly clear – the feminist agenda and the broader LGBTQ2’s gender goals, “reconciling” with indigenous people by giving them ever more funds and power, and transforming the Canadian economy towards a “green” version with renewable energy dominating and little role for the hydrocarbons industry. It is, in some senses, a declaration of victory over the more conventional goals and communities within the Canadian political system.
One cannot help but be struck by the range of initiatives underway, many of which have largely escaped media attention in Canada. The spending commitments alone are eye-opening – $180 billion for infrastructure, of which $20 billion is for green infrastructure, $28.7 billion for public transit, $25.3 billion for social infrastructure, and $10.1 billion for trade and transportation infrastructure. The document expresses a profound belief that all this will increase Canada’s future prosperity, ignoring the fact that, apart from the trade and transportation investments there is no obvious reason why this should be so.
In its endorsement of “progressive” goals, the document makes no reference to the groups apparently viewed as the villains and oppressors – especially Caucasian, heterosexual males; non-indigenous people; multi-generational Canadians; the oil and gas industry; and Canadian business generally. I wonder who is paying for all the programs.