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Pierre Trudeau’s infamous 1980 National Energy Program sought to demonize American oil companies, promote local champions, direct corporate activity, and grab oil revenue. It was an economic disaster.
Since the days of Pierre, the urge to regulate, redistribute and centrally plan has not disappeared, despite the intervening collapse of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, the urge has swelled to global proportions on the back of projected catastrophic man-made climate change.
The climate issue – whose existential seriousness Trudeau claims to believe, and which dominates his government’s immediate future – seeks to demonize all oil companies, promote local green champions, direct corporate activity towards “technologies of the future,” and load on carbon taxes. More than that, the climate agenda seeks to put all economic activity under global control.
Pierre never seemed to take that much interest in the NEP or economic nationalism, which bubbled up from the popularity of Petrocan with a naïve electorate, and out of the Liberal backrooms via men such as Maurice Strong, “the most important man of whom most people have never heard.”
Among Strong’s many roles was that of the first chairman, president and CEO of Petrocan. Strong had already established himself as a key figure in the international environmental movement. He was the mastermind behind the 1992 UN conference in Rio from which the climate issue emerged on the global political stage.
Strong reflects a mentality that hides – even from itself — the lust for power behind the commitment to “do good.” Meanwhile although his own influence has obviously waned with his advancing years, his agenda lives on, particularly in Canada.
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