As we enter Trump’s second full week in office, one thing has become extremely clear: we face the most hard-line anti-environmental, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and inherently racist administration in decades in the US.
It is also increasingly clear that the Trump years will be defined by protest against this agenda. Already we have seen Greenpeace hang a banner in the vicinity of the White House, with the words “Resist”.
Across the globe people are actively protesting against Trump’s travel ban of Muslims from seven countries. Tens of thousands of people have protested at airports in the US alone.
In the UK, a petition demanding that Trump’s state visit that is due to take place in the summer be dropped has garnered a million signatories, well over the threshold of 100,000 needed for the issue to be debated in the British Parliament.
But what about closer to home?
On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau reacted to Trump’s ban of Muslims by tweeting “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
But now opposition NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who has labelled Trump a fascist, is also arguing that Trudeau could stand up to Trump by rejecting the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
However, when Trump signed an executive order last week asking for TransCanada to reapply to build the pipeline, Trudeau’s Government was extremely positive.
“We have been supportive of this [KXL] since the day we were sworn into government,” said Natural Resources Minister, Jim Carr. “We believe it’s a good project for both Canada and the United States.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tried to argue that KXL was consistent with supporting both jobs and the environment. “Our position from the start has been that the environment and the economy go together,” she told the Canadian press. “We really believe that it is not just possible but essential to have strong policies on climate change — the strongest policies a government of Canada has ever had on putting a price on pollution — and at the same time to fulfil our duty as a government of getting our natural resources to market.”
But this is Orwellian double-speak. Three years ago, OCI issued a press release based on US State Department figures showing that the carbon emissions from KXL would be “1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually” equivalent to as “many as 5.7 million new cars”.
Let us not forget that if all the bitumen in the tar sands was burnt, another 240 billion metric tons of carbon would be added to the atmosphere and, even if just recoverable tar sands was exploited some 22 billion metric tons of carbon would be emitted.
There is a reason why Obama said no to KXL.”If we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground,” said the then President when he rejected the pipeline.
So Trudeau can’t have it both ways. He is either for tar sands expansion or climate protection.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema argues that: “The prime minister can’t keep saying he will lead on climate while building three new tar sands pipelines. Alternative facts may work in the U.S. administration, but they shouldn’t be tolerated here.”
Indeed, today’s Canadian Hill Times leads with an opinion piece that: “Trudeau must choose between Keystone XL and Canada’s climate commitments.” It says: “It’s time for Canada’s federal government to face the facts—KXL is incompatible with Canada’s climate commitments. The prime minister should take a stand and withdraw his unqualified support for KXL.”
Its that simple: You can’t approve KXL and then call yourself a climate leader.