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People not pipelines!

Trudeau and his Liberal government are moving us towards greater inequality and climate crisis

February 12, 2019

We live in a moment of both great hope and potential horror. There are two interwoven crises. On the one hand, there is the massive gap between rich and poor which is getting worse for the majority of the global population. On the other, there is the drive towards climate catastrophe. 

But world leaders have no answer for this crisis – only more of the same.

Oxfam released its latest report on global poverty and found that 26 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3.8 billion people. The top 1% took home 82% of the wealth created last year. 

Those numbers are staggering. Yet policy prescriptions are moving us towards even greater inequality, with tax breaks for the rich and austerity for everyone else. From Trump to Trudeau to Ford, there is an unrelenting campaign to squeeze working people–all the while consolidating power and wealth for the 1%.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, numerous sessions looked at the dangers posed by both climate crisis and poverty. The rich are scared. They see a population that is no longer willing to mortgage their future so the rich can get richer. And they are right. The popularity of “radical” politicians like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) has them deeply worried. Socialism is no longer a bad word, and the rich are not happy about it. 

AOC’s proposal to dramatically increase taxes on the top earners is immensely popular, even though the right wing is twisting itself into knots to discredit the plan.

Of course we know what their solution is. One need only see that they invited the fascist Jair Bolsonaro to be the keynote at Davos to understand what direction they want the world to go.

And in Canada, Trudeau and his Liberal government are moving us towards greater inequality and climate crisis. With a federal budget due to come down soon, and given the track record of the always Bay-Street friendly Liberals, we should expect that it will be woefully inadequate in reversing course on these crises. 

In the US, AOC has been pushing for a Green New Deal which would see massive investments in green technology, creating millions of climate jobs. The goal is to start reducing carbon emissions immediately and to have them lowered by half by 2030.

We need a green new deal in Canada. Movements around the world are demanding radical action on climate change.

In the Quebec elections, Québec solidaire put forward a similar plan and in doing so changed the debate, pushing it much farther to the left. This has also contributed to a huge movement on the streets of Quebec for climate action.

And what is Trudeau doing? He is going ahead with more pipelines. Not only is this reckless from the perspective of stopping climate change – it also requires attacking the rights of Indigenous peoples who have refused to let the pipelines through their lands. 

Trudeau and his finance minister Bill “Mr Privatization” Morneau are sowing the seeds of further polarization with these policies. As is the case in most parts of the world, the policies of the political centre are driving towards greater conflict and aiding the rise of the far right. 

In some cases, the Liberals are openly supporting a drive to violence, as with their support for the coup leaders in Venezuela.

And where is the NDP? They offer milquetoast policies that will not match the scale of the crises we face, and will do even less to inspire people. 

It’s not like the solutions are difficult to find. What is needed is the political will to go out on a limb and propose bold solutions.

In the election to come, the NDP will either go big or get decimated. Either way, we will have to build the forces on the ground that can push back against the drive towards poverty for the many and riches for the few.

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