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Keystone Resurrection Is A Test Of Trudeau's Moral Backbone

01/25/2017 11:41 EST | Updated 01/25/2017 11:41 EST

donald trump keystone

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington Jan. 24, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

I knew it was coming. At some point, Donald Trump would resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline, using his own dark magic to drag its lifeless corpse from where Barack Obama laid it to rest nearly a year and a half ago.

It's not a surprise, there was pretty much no chance that Donald Trump would pass up an opportunity to help the fossil fuel industry. The question now for Canada is, what is Justin Trudeau going to do about it?

The unfortunate truth is that Trudeau doesn't really have to do anything. His support for the Keystone pipeline has been well recorded. In fact, Trudeau's Natural Resources Minister, Jim Carr, specifically called for Trump to approve Keystone after last Friday's inauguration.

Donald Trump makes no secret of the fact that he doesn't really care about climate change or indigenous peoples.

On top of that, as Carr pointed out, the approvals for Keystone in Canada are already in place, meaning there is no contentious review for this pipeline (it also means the pipeline was approved without any consideration of climate change). But having the decision already made by a previous government doesn't absolve Trudeau of the responsibility to do what's right.

Donald Trump makes no secret of the fact that he doesn't really care about climate change or indigenous peoples. Justin Trudeau does the exact opposite. He waxes poetic time and time again about there being no relationship more important to him than the one between Canada and indigenous peoples. And on climate change, he goes on, at length, about the pressing crisis that is our warming world.

But, when it comes to pipelines -- the fuses that run through Indigenous lands and light the carbon bombs to cook our planet -- both Trudeau and Trump seem to be on the same page. Both seem A-OK with ignoring community opposition. And, while Trump ignores climate science outright, Trudeau just dances around the stark reality that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground with hollow rhetoric and half measures.

justin trudeau

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 12, 2016. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Trump is clearly on one side of this issue, and while Trudeau paints himself on the other side, his policies are planting his flag firmly beside the Donald's. Shortly after Trump signed executive actions on Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines, Jim Carr and newly minted Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, applauded the move, calling it "a great decision for Canada and Alberta."

My question is will Trudeau and his ministers continue to stand by, and seem to walk in lockstep with, Trump when his government tears up the Paris Climate Agreement? How about when he calls in the National Guard on indigenous communities peacefully protecting their water and sacred places?

With Trump trying to fast track Keystone, it's time for Trudeau to show some backbone.

But we don't even actually have to wait that long. In some of his first moves in office, Donald Trump silenced employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, deleted references to climate change from the White House website and froze a range of work being done around environmental protection. Sound familiar? That's because these are exactly the sorts of things that Justin Trudeau railed against when Stephen Harper did them as prime minister of Canada.

With Trump trying to fast track Keystone, it's time for Trudeau to show some backbone. Trump's presidency is a moral crisis, and his policies will only make climate change much, much worse. History will remember which side people, especially the prime minister of Canada, stood on. Your move Justin.

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