As the year draws to a close, it's worth looking back at some of the public policy issues that made headlines over the past 12 months, and that have a good chance of being in the news during the next 12 as well.
There are issues requiring tough decisions that a few selfies will not provide him with enough cover nor will they help him to change the channel to better issues or allow for better optics. His recent foot in mouth moment over his comments on Fidel Castro is just this past weekend's storm cloud. We also have other storm clouds developing on the horizon.
By approving Keystone XL's construction throughout the U.S., a President Trump would ensure prosperity for millions of ordinary Canadians. If that fever catches on, the Energy East pipeline and other pipelines through British Columbia could also provide a boost to Canada's prosperity.
After months of anti-trade rhetoric from the next American president, Donald Trump, Canada must ensure that our trade deals are respected, and push for even more free trade between our two countries. Free trade -- and NAFTA in particular -- has been so beneficial to both Canada and the U.S. that common sense will have to prevail.
When Justin Trudeau said that "Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States," in his statement responding to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President, he was right. But while Trudeau extolled how this should mean collaboration with Trump, being the kind of climate leader the world needs is going to mean Trudeau standing up to Trump, not sitting down with him.
As the month of August draws to a close, the National Energy Board (NEB) begins its hearings on the Energy East pipeline project amidst a swirl of controversy. But the most objectionable aspect of the hearings of the NEB is the fact that it is engulfed in a sea of questionable ethical considerations.
I think I'm reasonably well versed in issues surrounding the Energy East Pipeline, both economic and environmental. But I am struck by how, in any official TransCanada communications about environmental implications of the project, climate change is never mentioned.
President Obama rejected Keystone XL because he was convinced it was not "in the best interest" of his country. Unhappy with this decision, TransCanada Pipelines chose to directly challenge the sovereignty of the government of the United States with this $15-billion lawsuit.
It sometimes sounds as though pipeline proponents are the true environmentalists among us. Commentary in favour of the pipelines has followed suit with generous explanations of our current needs and the realities of energy consumption. They ask: are opponents of the pipelines in denial about our current reliance on fossil fuels? And if these bleeding hearts do admit that we do need fossil fuels to power our country, are they comfortable importing Saudi oil forever? I believe that such questions willfully miss the point.
If the pipelines are not approved, Alberta will suffer a huge fall, perhaps a kind of collapse. The Canadian economy will take a hit. But it will also turn us away from the unsustainable direction fostered by the last government. New, cleaner industries more befitting an educated, technologically advanced Canada will continue to be developed and in time produce economic growth. They won't make us rich right now, or in this election cycle, but it is a certainty that the alternative energy sector is not going away; in fact, it is a certainty that it will take over.
When Mayor Denis Coderre, the spokeman of the 82 municipalities of Montreal 's Urban Community, said "no" to TransCanada's Energy East pipeline, there was an uproar in Western Canada. Many, including Premier Brad Wall and Rick Mercer made wild accusations, saying this was a national unity question.
With the December Paris climate agreement, leaders and experts from around the world showed they overwhelmingly accept that human-caused climate change is real and the need to curb emissions. In light of this, I don't get the current brouhaha over Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway or the Energy East pipelines.
Blinded by the push to build unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure, politicians and pundits are drowning the conversation we need to have -- how to make the necessary shift to a 100 per cent clean energy economy. Politicians need to realize that in 2016, massive fossil fuel infrastructure is a wrongheaded place to invest -- both financially and politically.
I know that the term "ethical oil" has some blemishes on it because of issues surrounding its origin, but I believe in the concept behind the term. I want my personal gasoline purchases to go towards subsidizing medicare and not subsidizing a despot or paying for a tyrant to bomb his neighbour.
Energy East wants to force the Canadian economy in this 19th century straight-jacket for the next 40 years. As a member of the G8, we need an economy based on know-how, renewable energies, manufacturing as well as refining our natural resources. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is right in rejecting TransCanada's antiquated project.
If Keystone XL were built, it would produce 110 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, which is incompatible with effective U.S. action to cut climate pollution. Ultimately, the loser isn't the big bad Americans; it's our environment, and the right of governments to protect it for their citizens.