Defend People and Nature, Not Big oil Profits

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, January 2017

The decision of the Trudeau Liberal government to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and the Enbridge Line 3 project is a serious warning of the unchecked political and economic power of the transnational energy monopolies. Despite the government’s attempt to greenwash its decision by turning down the Enbridge Northern Gateway project at the same time, Canada clearly remains in the camp of countries engaged in the expansion of greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of Big Oil profits.

This development is deeply disturbing to millions of Canadians who voted for the Liberals to block the anti-environment Harper Conservatives. During his first year in office, PM Justin Trudeau took some limited steps to reverse the appalling record of the previous government. But while Trudeau campaigned to prioritize “community consent” for resource extraction projects, and to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he made no commitment to block the Kinder Morgan project, which together with Enbridge Line 3 will expand Canada’s carbon footprint by more than the total emission cuts from his other policies. The KM approval in particular makes it obvious that his election rhetoric was never meant to empower communities or indigenous peoples, or to break with the traditional backing of Canadian governments for the energy transnationals.

This decision comes along with news that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, and as Donald Trump (who claims global warming is a “Chinese hoax”) prepares to reverse U.S. support for the Paris accord and other steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

But instead of placing the Kinder Morgan approval within the framework of the dire threat to the planet from rising greenhouse gas emissions, the corporate media continues to pose false dilemmas, such as “which pipelines should be approved,” or “the difficult choices between jobs, the environment, and the rights of indigenous peoples.” Ignoring the historic global context, pro-corporate politicians and media want to shift the argument towards approval of more pipelines to transport unprocessed bitumen from the Alberta tar sands for export. This includes the Line 9 and Energy East projects, and the Dakota Access Pipeline which are all meeting powerful grassroots resistance from environmentalists, indigenous peoples and working people concerned for the future of the planet. The aim is to maintain Canada’s longstanding policy of digging the tar sands out of the earth, to benefit the Big Oil profiteers

This short-sighted approach of feeding corporate greed avoids the fundamental problem: how to sharply cut world-wide greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, by expanding environmentally sustainable technologies which can employ the workers displaced from the fossil fuel industry.

The Communist Party of Canada calls for a People’s Energy Plan which can protect the environment and create sustainable employment, based on the following points:

  •  Public ownership and democratic control of all energy and natural resources, including extraction, production and distribution.
  • Freeze and reduce energy exports.
  • Expand shared power flows among provinces through an East-West power and energy grid.
  • Block new development of the Alberta tar sands, and close these operations within five years, with jobs guaranteed for workers in more sustainable industries at equivalent wages.
  • Compensate the Aboriginal peoples and communities already affected by the tar sands.
  • No to the Kinder Morgan, Keystone XL, Line 9 and Energy East pipelines, and to oil and gas exploration and shipping on the west coast.
  • Put a moratorium on the exploration and development of shale gas resources.
  • Emergency legislation to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Invest heavily to create jobs through renewable energy and conservation programs, and phase out coal-fired plants and terminate reliance on nuclear energy.
  • Substantially expand urban mass transit, and eliminate bus and transit fares.
  • Legislate stringent vehicle emission controls.
  • Fund high-speed rail as a better alternative to highways and airlines.
  • Ban “biofuels” derived from feed grains.

The Communist Party of Canada once again states its full solidarity with all those in struggle against the pipelines being built or proposed to take the Alberta tar sands to export markets, including Line 9 and Energy East. We also congratulate the heroic land and water protectors at Standing Rock, who have won an important temporary victory against the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline by Energy Transfer Partners. The fight to protect the Missouri River and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s drinking water and indigenous sovereignty will continue, and we extend our full solidarity to this struggle.

We say – there is an alternative to capitalist destruction of the global environment. The Communist Party calls to build a powerful and broad People’s Coalition of the working class and its allies outside of Parliament. Such a Coalition could have a huge electoral impact and begin to achieve real gains, to curb corporate power, and start moving Canada in a new direction!

The global environmental crisis is not only about government policies – it is about capitalism itself. It is time to replace capitalism and exploitation with a new system – socialism, a society based on working class power, full democracy, human equality, and environmental sustainability, in which the resources and economic wealth are owned and controlled by the working people, not by corporate bosses.

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