On Tuesday, a coalition of First Nations, environmentalists and lefty think-tanks vowed to fight the $12 billion Energy East pipeline to take oilsands oil from Alberta to refineries and ports in eastern Canada.
Although not formally aligned yet (they have held a closed-door strategy meeting in Winnipeg, but have not forged a single front organization), the groups pledged to oppose Energy East with as much ferocity as opponents of the Keystone XL project have used in the United States.
Many of these same groups and others also vehemently oppose Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan in B.C. Not all, but most of them are, indeed, opposed to oilsands development altogether.
But just so I’m clear, here, you groups all still want even more billions from Ottawa and the provinces for development on reserves and in other First Nations communities, right?
Just where do you imagine that money is going to come from? If you block the largest economic development projects in the country, from whom will the federal and provincial governments collect the taxes to pay for the social spending you dream of?
Ottawa already spends $10 billion annually on the 400,000 First Nations people who live on Canada’s 630 reserves. That works out to $25,000 per man, woman and child. That’s more than three times what the federal government spends on non-aboriginals and the sum doesn’t include what provinces, casinos, resource royalties and private companies contribute to the cause.
As outrageous as that sum is, the vast majority of First Nations politicians and activists insist their communities need at least 50% more if they are to end on-reserve despair.
Quite apart from the travesty of preferring more handouts over the option of getting on board with gigantic resource developments near reserves that could lift First Nations people out of poverty through solid jobs and steady paycheques, the economic ignorance of this coalition’s stance is stunning.
No doubt many of the activists in these groups believe that if resource development is halted, we can “make the rich pay,” or we can force the evil One-Percenters to cough up the hundreds of billions in lost tax revenue.
Many have probably also told themselves that in the absence of oilsands extraction marvellous new “green energy” sources will appear overnight and along with them millions of well-paying, highly skilled jobs.
This I call magic-wand thinking. All that is required to create a “post-carbon” economy and society is for government to wave the magic wand of green-energy subsidy and regulation, and — poof! — brave new (green) world.
But in fact, what the anti-pipeline groups are plotting is the beheading of the golden goose, while at the same time clinging to the belief that it will still continue to lay golden eggs.
Of course, the anti-pipeline coalition is not alone in magic-wand thinking.
The McGuinty-Wynne Liberals in Ontario probably have an even worse case of it.
Since their adoption of the Green Energy Act in 2009, they have spent well over $8 billion in subsidies for wind turbines, solar-panel farms and bio diesel development, all without generating a single net new kilowatt of energy or creating any net new jobs.
Despite that stunning failure, their proposal going forward is even more “green” subsidies and taxes.
Like urbanites who love their grilled chops be don’t want any poor lambs killed to produce them, modern liberals and lefties have this disconnect between their social, environmental and economic dreams and the hard work it takes to fund them.
Unfortunately, though, there just might be enough voters with the same disconnect for the anti-pipeline coalition to win the battle for public opinion.
For the original version of this column, click here: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/05/20/anti-pipeline-groups-want-to-slay-golden-goose