Rex Murphy: That sound you hear could be the fragmentation of the country


The Liberal government’s fixation on Trudeau-style climate action is fracturing Canada

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Does he have authority?

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And, if he does have the power, a question not as clear cut as the Liberal government believes or presumes, is whether he has the moral and political rights to exercise that power? It is never because something can be done that it should be done.

I refer to the Trudeau government’s sweeping and sweeping announcements that accompany its much-vaunted climate agenda. Mandates, regulations, ministerial orders, invasions into the practices of various industries, what appear to be arbitrary encroachments on provincial jurisdictions — they just seem occur. And if it is claimed — as is always the case — that such and such a declaration or such a decree “will reduce emissions”, that is all, from the point of view of the liberals.

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But are they all a legitimate exercise of governmental power? And if – I seriously doubt it – they are legitimate, the more serious question is: are they wise? Are they helping or hurting the Confederacy?

And if so — I repeat, a dubious assumption and I believe unverified — is this nevertheless an unwarranted violation of the rights and privileges of citizens and provinces?

Are they helping or hurting the Confederacy?

Let’s take a very trivial example.

Those pathetic white plastic cutlery you get at every takeout – is it a global danger? Must be so. Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace protest artist, now a minister in the Canadian federal government, said it was banned. Who gave Guilbeault this tedious latitude? You don’t watch his utensils. Why did he let him choose yours?

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It may be a small point, but it’s a big question. What does a national government have to do with the private use of plastic forks? Doesn’t he have other business to attend to? And – I know this is a pointless question – was this petty and precious decision ever debated? Did Guilbeault raise his hand to the cabinet and introduce the subject? Was Jagmeet Singh, the NDP comforter for the Liberals, consulted?

It’s the little trick, but don’t dismiss it. There may come a time when bringing plastic knives and forks into Canada may constitute a smuggling offence. And taken for that, you may not be released on bail.

Now let’s move on to much more important things. Out of Ottawa’s big, suffocating, infertile bubble recently came the executive order that farmers must reduce fertilizer emissions, which means reducing fertilizers. After what debate? By what power?

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What is the legal or constitutional status of this decree? I already know that there was no prior consultation with western premiers or their ministers of agriculture. It was a fixed objective, not subject to discussion. It was a federal order.

  1. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attends election night in Burnaby, British Columbia in an October 21, 2019 file photo. Singh's post-election deal to prop up the minority Liberal government destroyed credibility of the NDP, writes Rex Murphy.

    Rex Murphy: NDP leader Jagmeet Singh could also be his destroyer

  2. A farmer works a field of barley southwest of Sexsmith, Alberta.

    Rex Murphy: Food and Energy—The Liberal Government’s Attack on the Basics of Life

Can a national government tell its citizens how they should farm, decide their fertilizer needs, potentially saving these people’s occupations and lives?

May I throw the most rhetorical of rhetorical questions. Guilbeault, or Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself, did they call meetings with real farmers and their families before putting these measures in place?

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Did any or all of them – via government jet, Pearson is so boring these days – moved to Weyburn, or Redvers, or Red Deer or – that’s the real challenge – Fort McMurray, to ask the people whose lives and jobs are at stake under this fixation with the Trudeau brand of “climate action,” what could they have to say? Have they tested their “law” with the people who have to live with it? The question is its own answer.

As always, I have to ask—and I know people don’t like to be reminded of this question—if, if agriculture were as important in Quebec as it is in Saskatchewan, a Trudeau government would give, arbitrarily, the same mandate? If Ontario were the oil province of Canada, wouldn’t there be pipelines going in all directions of the compass?

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Which brings me to another point. We are in a two-speed Confederation. Maybe even one to three levels.

Quebec is a singular entity solidly protected, independent in all but its name. It’s as close to being a sovereign nation as one can get while wearing the provincial brocade.

We are in a two-speed Confederation. Maybe even three

Ontario, with its population and wealth, and being the center of finance, communications and parliamentary seats, is a king among barons. The Atlantic Provinces — a simple addendum, worth a look but essentially, each on its own, with no real strength or voice in Confederation. And British Columbia, sometimes a player, more often a spectator of Ottawa’s distant machinations.

Back to the center point. Where in a Confederation is the power of a national government to target, assault and hurt the central economic concerns of certain provinces on a keyword? These decrees, measures, bans – call them what you will – keep falling, as if such great national problems simply require, to take effect, a photo op next to a tree, with a group of ministers nodding behind the Prime Minister. And we are supposed to accept them.

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The outpost provinces, the second tier group, must bow to the central voice.

Nothing is too small, and nothing is too big, to escape the care of this tough green government. It cannot deal with what falls within its mandate, from airports to boil water advisories to the issuance of passports. Yet he plans to fix the world. It is cruel madness. COVID has prompted us to obey voices from above. Green alarmists insist that we do.

To which I offer an axiom: Big ambitions are the most powerful seduction: the idea that you are saving the planet fully excuses what you think you can do, but over which you have no control. .

Our country, in this imperative state of mind, plays without knowing it with its own fragmentation.

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