Thursday, 12 January 2017

Pipelines, good-looking liberals and Hanoi Jane

Jane Fonda is unhappy with our prime minister. She has announced that "we shouldn't be fooled by good-looking liberals." Rachel Notley says Fonda doesn't know what she's talking about. I'm with Rachel.

Ms. Fonda, an ardent environmentalist, believes that by supporting pipelines, Prime Minister Trudeau "has betrayed every one of the things that he committed to in Paris" and advises us to get rid of him at the ballot box.

She ought to know better. The U.S. just got rid of its good-looking liberal and I don't think Ms. Fonda is entirely happy with the alternative. I doubt she'd be happy with our alternative either.

What Fonda doesn't seem to understand is that the U.S. got Donald Trump for president because the Democrats didn't recognize something that our government does. I refer to the fact that many people are not benefiting, or are even suffering, from two big economic revolutions: globalization and automation. Trudeau has pointed out that these changes promise great prosperity but can also create alienation and inequality. One of his key cabinet ministers, Chrystia Freeland, has even written a book about it: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

Trump won the election largely because he recognized and exploited the anger and despair in the Rust Belt states that resulted from the loss of millions of well-paid, blue-collar union jobs, victims of globalization and automation. If Hilary Clinton had paid more attention to the "deplorables" and less to the bankers, she might have recognized their anxieties and pulled the rug out from under her rival. But she didn't.

In Canada, the oil industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, good jobs—a blue collar worker can hardly do better. We all know we have to transition from fossil fuels to renewables, but that will take a while, and in the meantime we would be well advised to protect these jobs until we can replace them with equivalents. I don't want to see Alberta become a rust-belt province and I don't want a Canadian version of Trump for prime minister, or premier for that matter.

Our government is attempting to find the route that combines environmental responsibility with economic prosperity. It is a challenging route to navigate, but it is the only way. If we take good care of our middle class, our middle class will take good care of the environment.

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