Canada’s "Just Transition Advisory Body" which was hastily conceived, too short to be indicative of a search for real input on the matter, stickhandles around Canada’s traditional democratic process of considering policy approaches, and is completely misguided in its objectives and its approach.
Greg McLean has written a strong letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, who announced this short-sighted initiative in the dog days of summer. Read letter below the picture.
[Photo: Dale Swampy, President of the National Coalition of Chiefs, member of the Samson Cree Nation, and a supporter of Indigenous participation in resource projects.]
Read the letter
30 September 2021
The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Re: Just Transition Advisory Body
Please accept my congratulations on your re-election as the Member of Parliament for St. John’s South – Mount Pearl.
I do not know if our continuing roles in the House of Commons will allow the overlap that the past year has shown. In any event, it has been a pleasure dealing with the various issues affecting Canada’s natural resource industries, as your shadow critic. I have appreciated your understanding of the issues affecting your portfolio, and your personal commitment to advancing the interests of Canada’s vital sectors. Perhaps, this is a result of the recognition of the importance of the oil and gas industry to the future of your own province, and the necessity of building upon the skills of the people involved in this industry.
It has been two months since you announced the Just Transition Advisory Body’s request for input. In that two months, five weeks were consumed with a federal election – so let’s acknowledge that potential participants in this exchange were otherwise occupied; you and me included. Let’s also acknowledge that this is one more foray for your government to undertake ‘studies’ without the overview of Parliament – you know, the body to which both you and I were elected by Canadians to represent their concerns. The input was requested after Parliament adjourned for the summer, and it has not been recalled since. If you were seeking serious input from all angles, I suggest you would have presented this initiative before the parliamentary committee of your choosing. But perhaps, I am too much a believer in the tenets of a transparent democracy being available so that Canadians can see the input on which their elected officials are making decisions – and, thereby, hold them accountable.
Allow me to confront the absurdity of the premise of the Body, at the outset. A ‘just transition’ – for hard-working, productive, private-sector, taxpaying individuals in Canada’s most productive and export-intensive industries – to government-subsidized caretaker roles in industries dominated by foreign entities, in which Canada is a vast importer – of equipment and technology. Surely, you’ve seen the evidence of what this misguided policy has caused in the Province of Ontario. Extrapolating that disaster across the country will lead to much worse results for all Canadians. And Canadian workers will rightly ask, ‘What happens when the federal government needs to withdraw its subsidies for the transitory jobs?’ As if running deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars can continue much further.
Let’s accept that this path you are abetting in pursuing leads to one outcome – national poverty. And poverty on the national scale where no region will be able to ride to the rescue, as has been Canada’s history. The inflationary effects alone of increasing Canadians’ expenditures on energy for heat and transportation will cause a spiral of cost increases throughout our economy which will move business and jobs beyond our borders. Migration will follow, and government revenues will decline. This is your outcome.
You and I agree on the necessity of addressing the causes and effects of climate change. Analytically, I have seen nothing from your government, to this point, which leads to any reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. As with much of my open criticism, your policies have leaned heavily on virtuous words, with outcomes that will set Canadians backwards economically, and will be harmful to the world’s environment.
One of Canada’s leading advantages in dealing with decarbonization – our innovative oil and gas industry’s scientific and technical workforce – is being targeted here as if they need to ‘transition’, by edict of the Government of Canada. The industry that shows the best outcomes in reducing its environmental footprint, including its greenhouse gas emissions; the industry that contributes over $100 billion annually to Canada’s balance of trade; the industry that pays approximately $30 billion (net) annually to governments across Canada to fund various social outcomes; the industry that leads the world in environmental performance, transparent reporting and ESG criteria – this is your government’s target to transition?
Please spare me any justification in your response to the ‘new, green jobs that represent a generational opportunity for Canada’. Those are already here – and in every other jurisdiction in the world. Your government’s initiatives will move Canadian jobs to become more dependent on foreign entities directing Canadian subsidiaries. This is not progress for Canada – and will lead to an inevitable brain drain.
Canada has natural advantages we need to build upon – and that includes our oil and gas sector. Our policies should allow the industry to continue to progress its innovations and world-leading environmental outcomes. Export of world-leading environmental technologies occurs from advanced economies, and that should be our focus. Contrarily, your government’s ‘just’ transition wants to kneecap this industry, and move mind and management – innovation and development of real solutions -- to other, less transparent jurisdictions.
At what point does your government examine the outcomes of its policies, and the moral hazard it is foisting upon Canadians, and admit that your chosen path is the wrong one – for Canadian jobs, for the Canadian economy, for Canada’s social fabric, for energy security here and around the world, and for the world’s environment?
Transition is already occurring in our natural resource industries – through advanced technology, and economic efficiencies. These are real measures, and we will not succeed unless we start measuring. This has been the story of commodity economics since our country began. This ‘transition’ does not require the misguided arm of the Government of Canada to move its compass.
I strongly advise you to look through this mirage you are witnessing and expose those that will benefit from this aimless journey on which your government is taking this country, at great cost to Canadians, and negative outcomes for the world’s environment.
A ‘just transition’ might seem like a good sound bite. As with all your government’s virtue-signaling, it fails on any objective analysis, and it is devoid of substance.
It is somewhat ironic that I am submitting this input to you on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, I echo the sentiments of many indigenous organizations that have called on your government to take tangible steps forward on reconciliation – and that includes economic reconciliation. The average national income of indigenous Canadians is roughly two-thirds of non-indigenous Canadians; the exception being those that work in the resource industries. Rather than recognizing this as a building block for success for the next generation of indigenous Canadians, your government is choosing to transition indigenous Canadians out of these jobs – and you pretend this is ‘just’. Your outcome will stand as another marker of unfulfilled potential for helping the advancement of indigenous Canadians, and this is shameful.
Please turn this ship around. I am calling on you to confront the ideologues in your government’s Cabinet who are taking Canada in an unviable direction, with no advantageous outcome – for Canada or the world. It is time for you to acknowledge the misdirection of your plan. Begin by shelving this Body.
As always, if I can be of any assistance in these efforts, please let me know.
Greg McLean, M.P.