Liberal Members of Parliament are taking a loud stand against Teck Resources’ C$20.6-billion Frontier tar sands/oil sands mine proposal, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receiving an “earful” at a caucus meeting Wednesday, Huffington Post Canada reports.
“Many Grit MPs, having promised voters during last fall’s election campaign that they would be an environmentally-focused government, are adamantly opposed to the approval of a huge new carbon-intensive project,” HuffPost writes. “The proposal would see the mine north of Fort McMurray operate for 41 years, cover more than 29,200 hectares, and produce about 260,000 barrels of bitumen per day.”
“If we are truly committed to net zero by 2050, and to the science, and to the world, and to our future and tackling climate change, there is no explanation sitting here today as to how this project fits within that commitment,” Beaches–East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told the online publication. “So should it proceed as it stands? I think it’s a pretty easy no.”
“We have made significant commitments to achieve net-zero by 2050,” agreed Pontiac MP and GreenPAC endorsee Will Amos. “We’ve made significant commitments to achieve our Paris climate commitments…My constituents demand that we meet those, and our grandchildren demand that we meet those.”
“I just know that if we are going to be serious about climate change and hitting our emissions, then that is what we need to factor [into] any project and any policy we consider as a government,” said Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell, adding that environment is “one of the biggest issues” in her riding.
Many of those MPs took earfuls of their own on the doorstep, “from constituents incredulous at the Grits’ new environmental pledges after the Trudeau government approved not once but twice the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project — and purchased the existing pipeline to ensure the project got built,” HuffPost adds. “Candidates who were eager to talk about the Trudeau government putting a price on carbon, phasing out coal-fired electricity, curbing methane emissions, and making large investments in greener transit and clean technology were met with comments such as, ‘Yeah, but you bought a pipeline’.”
Other Liberal caucus members, including at least two parliamentary secretaries, were undecided or unwilling to comment on the discussion. “I’m listening with my ears and gathering as much information as I can,” said Milton, Ontario MP Adam Van Koeverden.
While the Liberal caucus debated the project, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took the unusual step of heaping praise on Trudeau in the wake of Tuesday’s appeal court decision allowing construction of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“I have my disagreements with Prime Minister Trudeau on a number of issues…but I think they did realize there has to be at least one project that gets Canadian energy to global markets so we can get a fair price,” Kenney said. “I think this government understands there has to be a balance, and we agree—a balance between economic growth and environmental responsibility.”
But if Kenney was prepared to laud Trudeau, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was not, asserting in a Guardian op ed that the government’s “climate hypocrisy” has hit a new low.
“There’s obviously something hideous about watching the Trumps and the Putins of the world gleefully shred our future,” he wrote. “But it’s disturbing in a different way to watch leaders pretend to care—a kind of gaslighting that can reduce you to numb nihilism. Trudeau, for all his charms, doesn’t get to have it both ways: if you can’t bring yourself to stop a brand new tar sands mine, then you’re not a climate leader.”