OpEd: There’s nothing ‘just’ about Justin’s ‘Just Transition’
A key reason I put my name forward to represent Alberta in the Senate is to speak up for the many Albertans whose lives and livelihoods are being fundamentally ignored by Ottawa.
The Liberal government’s so-called “Just Transition” scheme is only the most recent example. In its crosshairs are the 522,000 Canadians working in the oil and gas industry and the families that depend on them.
You easily could have missed it: right before the Liberals pulled the plug and called their opportunistic election in August, they launched consultations for “just transition” legislation. That consultation has already closed, with no further opportunities for feedback to be welcomed by the government.
No matter how it’s branded, the “transition” here involves putting resource workers out of work, with their livelihoods deemed a write-off.
The “Just Transition” plan, a scheme to mothball a key economic driver in our country, started long before the creation of Trudeau’s buzz term with the stopping of resource projects. Whether it was the prime minister’s killing Northern Gateway by cabinet order or the regulatory strangulation of the Frontier oil sands project, amongst others, the government knows the jobs it doesn’t want Canadians supporting their families with.
The glaring omission in the idealistic “just transition” are the lives of those it impacts immediately. Much like the consumer carbon tax forced on provinces by Ottawa, the considerations for ordinary people weren’t taken into account: the carbon tax didn’t stop people from driving to work, or their kids to extra-curricular activities, or paying to heat their homes — it just made it more expensive.
Leadership – especially amongst Alberta companies – in reducing GHG emissions per barrel, or ongoing innovation in the oil and gas industry, global demand for resources, and the uncomfortable question of “then who are we going to import our resources from?” don’t seem to resonate at all with Ottawa.
While the legislation hasn’t been introduced, nor has the report from the “consultations” even been finished, I’m not optimistic about where the NDP-backed Liberal minority government in Ottawa will land on this.
This is exactly why the Senate, the upper house, needs legitimate representation from our country’s regions. That was supposed to be the point of the Senate, a counterbalance and gut-check on the House of Commons.
Another handpicked-by-Ottawa appointee to speak for Albertans only exacerbates the problem.
I know what you’re thinking: you think this government is going to appoint the person Albertans choose? What’s the point?
Hundreds of thousands of ballots were cast in Alberta’s Senate nominee elections in 1998 and 2004 during the previous period of federal Liberal governance. In 1998, there wasn’t even the hope of a merged federal Conservative Party on the horizon.
This election, and Alberta’s proud history of leadership on Senate reform, gives Albertans an opportunity to make their voices heard.
The Liberals and NDP who mock and boycott these elections love the appointment process and an effective rubber stamp on whatever comes out of the House of Commons. No checks, no balances.
With next-to-no consultation on consequential legislation like the upcoming “just transition” scheme coming out of Ottawa, it’s clear why we need real representation in the Senate to put checks and balances on the House of Commons.
People’s livelihoods are too important to be lost in the process.