FERNANDO: Guilbeault's Agenda Further Revealed

Guilbeault’s Refusal To Meet With Energy Industry Executives Shows The Danger Of Having Zealots In Positions Of Power

By Spencer Fernando, Exclusive to the National Citizens Coalition


There’s a reason democracies tend to avoid putting extremists in a position of power.

First, democracies tend to – over time – converge on a relatively moderate worldview, since getting elected in the first place requires appealing to a wide range of people. 

Second, governing in an extreme manner means ignoring the views of a wide swath of the population, which encourages those being ignored to organize more effectively. Thus, extremists don’t stay in power for long.

But of course, people with extreme views sometimes slip through anyway.

And that’s what Canada is dealing with when it comes to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Guilbeault – a former Greenpeace activist – is certainly the most ideological Environment Minister this country has ever had.

His views may be popular in his home riding, but he is far to the left of most Canadians.

He would never have been in a position of such power were it not for Justin Trudeau, who initially campaigned as a centrist but has steadily moved further and further left during his time in power (a key reason the Liberals are now stuck around 30% of the vote).

Trudeau has elevated and empowered Guilbeault, with predictable results.

And no, I’m not talking about results in terms of emissions reductions. Canada’s per-capita emissions have fallen about the same amount under the Trudeau Liberals that they did under the Harper Conservatives. Per-capita emissions have in fact been falling dramatically throughout the developed world for many years now. Canada doesn’t need to weaken our energy sector and doesn’t need a carbon tax to bring down emissions, as technological advancement is taking care of that already.

So no, it’s not in terms of emission reductions that Guilbeault is getting ‘results.’

Instead, the ‘results’ are a more divided country, a stagnant Canadian economy, and Canadians being subjected to higher and higher taxes even as our standard of living declines.

The issue here is that Guilbeault isn’t a moderate, or even a ‘liberal’ (in the classical sense) at all. 

He is much more of a zealot; someone extremely committed to his vision while having no desire to listen to the perspectives of others.

This would be fine for an activist.

But for a government minister in a geographically massive, ideologically diverse cold weather country with a large energy sector, it is disastrous.

Guilbeault – and by extension the Liberal government – feel entitled to take actions that severely damage industries across the country – with a specific focus on ultimately ending the oil and gas sector in the West – without even acknowledging those who are being hurt by their policies. 

This was made abundantly clear during Guilbault’s recent trip to Calgary, when he wasn’t even willing to meet with representatives of an industry he demands weaken itself to fulfill his ideological objectives:

Canada's environment minister was in Alberta this week speaking to handfuls of stakeholders and politicians about decarbonization and clean energy. 

But Minister Steven Guilbeault turned down a request for a meeting with major oil and gas company CEOs during the trip — amid industry anxiety about federal policies and timelines to reduce emissions. 

The Pathways Alliance, a consortium of companies representing 95 per cent of oilsands production, asked for time with the minister during his visit to Calgary on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Two senior oil company executives told CBC News that Guilbeault's office declined the request.

"Minister Guilbeault was unable to accommodate a meeting with Pathways Alliance during this visit," a statement from Pathways confirmed.

Guilbeault’s refusal wasn’t a scheduling issue. Instead, it represents his contempt for the oil and gas sector. Guilbeault views the oil and gas sector as something profoundly negative and harmful. Meanwhile, he views himself as a virtuous saviour of the planet, and thus thinks he has the moral high ground.

Often, those convinced of their own righteousness can be the most dangerous, especially when given control over the levers of government power. And that’s exactly the position Guilbeault finds himself in.

Deprived of a chance to play the hero

Of course, Guilbeault’s attempt to play the saviour and fight a world-defining battle has run into a snag. Canada’s emissions are already coming down due to factors that have nothing to do with a carbon tax or restrictions on the energy sector. But that’s not the big heroic narrative Guilbeault desires. How can he be the hero if there aren’t evil foes for him to do battle against?

In the absence of a real need for his zealous agenda, Guilbeault and the Liberal government have decided to simply ignore reality. They are pretending that the future of the planet depends on Canada having a carbon tax and Canada weakening our own energy sector, and they cast anyone with an alternative perspective as a villain.

Why would Guilbeault – in his view – legitimize those he believes are destroying the planet? Why would he meet with them? His goal is to try and demonize those who disagree with him, not listen to different perspectives.

Unsurprisingly, this is leading to both increased economic damage and national division.

The lesson here is that we shouldn’t be surprised to see ideological zealots act in a zealous manner. Guilbeault’s interest is in imposing an ideological agenda, not bringing Canadians together to find consensus.

Canadians need to move beyond the type of divisive leadership the Liberal government represents. Our country is facing significant challenges ahead, and meeting those challenges will require leaders who are willing to listen to others and incorporate disparate views, something Guilbeault and Trudeau have shown themselves unwilling to do.

Spencer Fernando is one of the most popular and prolific political voices in Canada. He is a Campaign Fellow for the National Citizens Coalition. For more from Spencer, visit his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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