Canada is a great country crossing the desert of self-chosen and misguided leadership. There is no vision except platitudes and quixotry
by Conrad Black
As was recounted by Gary Mason in an exceptionally pompous comment in the Globe and Mail on Monday, I have indeed been in Calgary (and Vancouver) in the past week, where energy policy and resources generally were extensively discussed, and also engaged in a delightful debate in Toronto on Wednesday on climate change with my friend of many years, former Quebec premier and federal Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest. I had the good fortune of speaking with a large number of interesting people in all three cities, and learned a good deal about the prevailing perspectives of their business and political communities. Since I was invited in each city to give my opinions on several subjects, I did as asked, to the general agreement of my hosts, however discountenanced Mason may have been by hearsay of my remarks.
I was invited in each city to give my opinions on several subjects
The principal points I emphasized on resource policy were that just as China and India, representing nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population, settled into hot pursuit of economic growth 30 to 40 years ago, raising demand for base and precious metals, energy and forest products so that they were much closer to being vendors’ markets than consumers’ markets, a confluence of improvident circumstances assaulted the oil and gas industry. Following the decisive defeat of the international left in the Cold War, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the collapse of international communism and the defection of China to the virtues of a market economy (though still with a heavy command ingredient), the international left, evicted from power and even intellectual respectability, fetched up in the camp of the conservationists, those who cared most demonstratively for the environment. They shouldered aside the long-standing opponents of untreated effluent and advocates for natural habitats, and assaulted capitalism from a new quarter, waving the green flag of ecological radicalism rather than the red banner of Marx. Capitalism was not to be overthrown in favour of socialism, but rather the more incontestable goal of saving the planet. The left, for once, deserves high marks for improvisation.
The left, for once, deserves high marks for improvisation
In its way, it has been the most pure Leninism: the founder of the Soviet Union said “If you can’t get in the door, use the window.” This is what Marxist Naomi Klein was celebrating with her book “This Changes Everything,” claiming environmentalism would derail capitalism. And the affected militancy of generally respected figures of institutional finance, Mark Carney and Jim Leach and others, in turning themselves into a pressure group for green-friendly investment through the vacuous concept of sustainable finance (though Carney has reservations), are proving the truth of Lenin’s prediction that “The capitalists are so stupid they will sell us the rope we hang them with.” A green test of investment grade will be as complete a fiasco as was the spurious attempt to invest in companies according to the imputable quality of their corporate governance. Fad follows fad; the only yardstick for measuring the quality of investments is capital appreciation, and those that don’t rise in value will not be sustainable.
Greta Thunberg, the tiresome Swedish teenage scold, has been sailing around the world reproaching the planet’s adult population for failing our progeny by mismanaging the planet environmentally. This is a demonstration of weakness by the environmentalists, not strength. Successive claims of imminent doom by the climate alarmists have consistently failed to materialize. Our oil and gas industries are not being strangled by the irresistible veracity of the climate change movement; the entire world except Western Europe and Canada are carrying on without any obvious sign of believing their carbon emissions are threatening human civilization.
In September, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore repeated that we have 12 years to prevent irreparable climatic damage to life; he said much the same thing a decade ago, and a decade before that. At least he got a Nobel Prize and became a centimillionaire for being so repetitive. Every informed person in the world has realized for over 50 years that we had to be careful to reduce environmental pollution and protect endangered areas and species. The sudden injection of far-left militancy drove the argument to anti-capitalist hysteria and hijacked a vehicle formerly filled with virtuous ecologically minded people. And useful idiots are telling resistant groups like the benighted province of Alberta to enjoy their martyrdom and adjust to impoverishment.
The chief meteorologist of Japan disembarked from the climatist movement several months ago, saying it was unclear what was happening to the climate, if anything unusual. The whole policy of dismantling and discouraging most of the energy industry except the hopelessly inadequate and horrendously costly solar and wind power boondoggles has been officially rejected as based on unproved suppositions by all major governments except the principal Western European countries and Canada. Since the science is divided and the proportions of the whole climate question are impossible to judge, Canada should devote itself to neutral and exacting research to seek, urgently, to ascertain what is happening, instead of singing our hearts out in the chorus of doom, like catechism students, as we strangle our greatest potential source of export revenue and greatest manufacturing cost advantage, our oil and gas industry.
Canada should devote itself to neutral and exacting research to seek, urgently, to ascertain what is happening
Countries that are not defined by an exclusive culture, like Poland, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Japan and many others are, and cannot claim a unique secular-evangelical mission and mythos, as the United States claims as the redeemer, exemplar, champion and guardian of democratic government and the free market, must define a community of interest, amplify and equitably distribute prosperity, treat its different component regions and cultural groups fairly, and endow themselves with a distinct purpose. What is needed is a vision, without which, as is recorded in Proverbs and is engraved at the entrance to the Canadian House of Commons, “the people perish.”
The current federal government defines its first priority to be fighting climate change, which is nonsense, making a shambles of matters of gender, and inciting egregious myths and practices in native issues. We are embracing a false national objective to oppress Alberta and Saskatchewan while encouraging charlatans and misfits to claim that there are more than two sexes and that the right of everyone to work out their own sexuality in perfect freedom is a matter for state coercion, and while inciting the inference that those of European ancestry invaded, occupied and oppressed this country in a manner morally indistinguishable from what Hitler and Stalin did to Poland in 1939. There is no vision except platitudes and quixotry. We are driving Alberta to the consideration of extreme remedies and are stuck with the authors of this visionless miasma for four more years. Canada is a great country crossing the desert of self-chosen and misguided leadership. In a democracy, a people gets the government it deserves; we must solemnly consider what we did to deserve this.
First published in the National Post.
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