Justin Trudeau’s Two-Faced Climate Game

Dec 2013
Beware of watermelons
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — At the Paris climate summit meeting in December 2015, Canada’s freshly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, took the podium before his new international fan club and declared, “Canada is back, my friends!”

The young, charismatic Mr. Trudeau promised “sunny ways.” He was ideally positioned to shift the country to a greener future, away from its reliance on resource industries and toward improved relations with Indigenous peoples whose territories are imperiled by energy projects. Yet more than halfway through his mandate, he has adopted the backward energy and economic policies of his predecessor Stephen Harper, an ardent fossil-fuel promoter. Mr. Trudeau has revealed himself to be not a climate crusader, but a pipeline pitchman who tells the world one thing while doing the opposite at home.

Within a year of committing in Paris to ambitious targets, Mr. Trudeau and his federal Liberal Party had rendered his pledge meaningless. The government approved a pair of heavy-oil pipelines and a liquefied natural gas plant. Its members secretly cheered as Donald Trump was elected, and moved toward resurrecting the Keystone XL pipeline. (Two other pipeline projects were terminated earlier in Mr. Trudeau’s term, but he can’t take credit; one was quashed in court and the other was canceled by the company.)

Hanging in the balance now is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Edmonton, Alberta, to the outskirts of this city. The project, led by a subsidiary of the Texas-based energy company Kinder Morgan, and with investment from Canadian banks, would triple the flow of bitumen to the coast to 890,000 barrels a day and produce a sevenfold bump in tanker traffic. A heavy-oil spill could be catastrophic for Canada’s largest wild salmon run, many whale species and British Columbia’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry. The estimated carbon dioxide emissions associated with the project would equate to adding about 3 million cars a year to the road. Environmental activists have “warriored up.”