About The Fires: Buried Ledes & Missed Ledes.
The overlooked backstory on Steven Guilbeault's China liaisons; the unreported backstory on Melanie Joly's 2024 "game plan," and more temptations to cynicism, which I will resist even if it kills me.
Banning plastic straws, selling coal to China
An area greater than the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. That’s the extent of the Canadian landscape that’s gone up in smoke so far, this summer. More than fifteen million hectares.
A debate about whether or to what extent “climate change” is involved in this isn’t really a debate worth having. The degree to which anthropogenic forcing (i.e. human-caused effects) is a factor in the disruption of global climate patterns going back hundreds or thousands of years is a fascinating field of inquiry. I’m done with it. It’s happening.
I’ve been researching and writing about this stuff for years. I’ve been a lash to the backs of eco-alarmists and I’ve also got no time for their it’s-a-hoax counterparts at the tinfoil fringes. Here’s a perfectly affordable digital version of a book I wrote years ago: The Sixth Extinction. Here’s something I wrote for the Globe and Mail back in 2006, about a barely-detectable warming in Canada’s western interior that caused a pine beetle infestation that ended up destroying as much forest as this summer’s fires did.
Pine forests need fires to regenerate, but the beetle kill was crazy. The beetles went on to eat sixteen million hectares of pine trees over a decade or so. A great many of those beetle-killed pines were cut down by the logging industry before they rotted into the ground, so there wasn’t much gnashing of teeth. But there’s a lot to be said about stupid provincial forest-management obsessions with fire suppression that left the pine forests susceptible to death-by-beetle in the first place.
And there’s also a lot to criticize about the absence of any thinking at the federal level about preparing for this summer’s disaster. There was no national climate-mitigation planning until 2021, for instance. And remember the two billion trees Justin Trudeau promised to plant back in 2019, after his heart to heart talk with the teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg? Never happened. Isn’t happening. Paul Wells had an excellent account of that shell game two weeks ago, here.
And no, I don’t want to talk about the federal carbon tax. Not today. I want to talk about something else.
This edition of the Real Story is about the Trudeau government’s unseriousness, especially its unseriousness about global warming. More generally it’s about the Liberals’ determination to politicize and polarize everything, a dirty habit that’s a dangerous invitation to mass public cynicism. When it comes to global warming it’s enough to leave otherwise reasonable people disinclined to believe even NASA’s Goddard Institute, which reported this week that July was the world’s hottest month on record since the 1880s, when reliable records began.
On the far side of the paywall, there will be some inside story about how the news media, usually not consciously, collaborates in the cultivation of this cynicism. And traffics in conspiracy theory, usually without knowing it. For now, here’s me in the National Post this week: Steven Guilbeault goes to China and burns his climate credibility.
It’s no wonder that Canadians are among the most skeptical people in the world when it comes to confidence in their government’s capacity to deal with climate change.
It’s no wonder, because the Trudeau Liberals long ago blew whatever credibility they began with in the matter of relations with China, and because global warming is mostly about coal (it’s 40 percent of the energy industry’s carbon emissions) and pretty much all about China. This has been pointed out in this newsletter more than once, as in Thank you, Xi Jinping, for making it so obvious, which contained this illustration:
You could hike the carbon tax daily until there was no Canadian economy left and it wouldn’t matter a damn to global climate change. It wouldn’t stop the fires or the floods or the drying-up of salmon rivers on the British Columbia coast. Canadians could vanish from the earth and we’d only take about 1.6 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas output with us.
I’m not saying we should bail from our international climate-change commitments. What I’m saying is that while we’ve been beating the crap out of one another in the effort to meet those commitments, China's mostly coal-fired greenhouse gas output has doubled and tripled since 2001, while industry and energy GHG's from the rest of the industrialized world have fallen or flatlined.
Beijing has brought more than 50 gigawatts of new coal power online so far just this year, and greenlighted the construction of another 106 coal-fired gigawatts, a quadrupling over 2022. It’s the biggest jump since 2015.
Yes, but what about the damage “the west” did with the Industrial Revolution!? Be fair! Sorry, but China’s carbon emissions just between 2013 and 2020 exceeded Britain’s total output in the 220 years since the Industrial Revolution began.
It’s good to see that quite a few others in the news media are finally picking up on Canada’s leading role in nurturing, financing and administering Beijing’s elaborate global green pantomime: the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).
I’ve been banging on about it for a while in the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post, as in last December, Trudeau Liberals too eager to buy into China's green 'co-operation', and two years ago, Coal-spewing China has taken the world's climate hostage: While we’ve been busy beating up on Albertans and their oil, Beijing has been laughing at us.
So enough of that, except this: “Canada will continue to challenge China where we ought to,” Guilbeault says, “while advancing co-operation on the global threat of climate change.”
But this is what we’ve been doing through the CCICED since 1992, as Beijing has turned China into a carbon dioxide factory on its way to global domination. That’s where Canadian-style “cooperation” has led us. The CCICED hasn’t just accomplished nothing on the climate-change front. It’s excused Beijing and enabled Xi Jinping and handed the Chinese Communist Party a Belt-and-Road free pass to dodge each and every international climate commitment that binds the rest of the developed world.
So we sell China coal, ban plastic straws and “engage” with Beijing, and if you don't like the carbon tax the Liberals will call you an "arsonist." And yes, we sell China coal. Coal was Canada’s top export commodity to China last year, beating out even canola.
About Ottawa’s “game plan” for. . . what, exactly?
Subscribers may recall a Real Story newsletter from a month ago, The PM, the Press, Polarization & Propaganda. It was about the way reality is distorted in the funhouse mirror Canada’s bled-out news media has become. This bit:
CTV News: Trudeau cuts appearance in Belleville, Ont., short as protesters swarm motorcade. CBC News: Trudeau cuts short an appearance in Belleville, Ont., after protesters swarm motorcade. National Post: Trudeau motorcade swarmed by protesters in Belleville, Ont., causing PM to cut appearance short. Toronto Star: Justin Trudeau cuts appearance in Belleville short as protesters swarm motorcade. Hamilton Spectator: Justin Trudeau cuts appearance in Belleville short as protesters swarm motorcade.
Weird, eh? You’d think it was all written by the same person. That’s because it was. . .
It happened again, two weeks later.
National Observer: Poilievre's Conservative party spreading mainstream conspiracy theories. Toronto Star: Poilievre’s Conservative party embracing language of mainstream conspiracy theories. CTV News: Poilievre's Conservative party embracing language of mainstream conspiracy theories. CBC News: Poilievre's Conservative Party embracing language of mainstream conspiracy theories. And so on, and so on.
Again, you’d think it was all written by the same person. That’s because it was. It was a Canadian Press story filed by Mickey Djuric, the same CP reporter who wrote that serially-published exercise in stage-management that came off as a story about Trudeau being swarmed by vulgar Trumpists and Truckists in Belleville, Ontario.
Don’t be hard on Mickey. It’s not her fault and she doesn’t write the headlines, although her ‘Conservatives Mainstream Conspiracy Theories’ story was thinly and dubiously sourced.The reference to Poilievre’s ramped-up rhetoric around “debunked claims that the World Economic Forum is attempting to impose its agenda on sovereign governments” was more than a bit strange, as was the thing about how “some experts suggest” that this was a sign of “conspiracy theories” moving from the internet fringes to the middle-class middle.
To be completely clear: I’m not in the tank for Poilievre or the Conservatives or anyone else. I’m really going to have to get around to diving deep into Poilievre’s actual policies pretty soon, because right now I can’t find much that’s clearly discernible in his folksy articulation of the pain regular Canadians are enduring these days - outrageous housing costs, food costs, gas prices and so on.
Down with the gatekeepers! Cut taxes! Build build build!
But it’s defintely not a “conspiracy theory” that the WEF wants governments to drink deeply from its neoliberal elixirs. There are quite a few cranks who can’t shut up about the WEF, but influencing governments is what the WEF is for. And unless I’ve missed something, I haven’t read or heard anything about the WEF from Poilievre that’s any more “radical” than what we’ve been hearing for years from the likes of leftist antiglobalization mascot Naomi Klein and the American sort-of socialist firebrand Bernie Sanders. The NDP’s Charlie Angus used to wail about the WEF. How it became a “right-wing” thing should be a fascinating inquiry, but for another time.
In any case, Mickey’s story caused former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to post on X, the social media platform I will continue to call Twitter: “No wonder Trudeau wants to censor all but four or five Liberals news sources: they all coordinate in attacking Poilievre with the same false headline. Collusion?”
No, not collusion so much as a matter of half-empty newsrooms with harried editors pulling a rip-and-run from the Canadian Press newswire.
The CP story itself ended up a sort-of story when Poilievre was quizzed about it by freelance journalist Teresa Wright at a presser in Prince Edward Island. “A number of your own comments have been characterized as ‘dog-whistling’ to the far right. . .”
“By who?” Poilievre responds. A back and forth begins, with Wright referring to “a number of different experts” and Poilievre repeatedly asking “by who?” and Wright doesn’t have an answer, and more “by who?” from Poilievre, and it’s excruciating to watch. Or hilarious, or offensive, or painfully embarassing or immensely gratifying, depending on one’s political standpoint, or sense of humour.
It was really quite something. You can watch the exchange here.
The proposition involving Poilievre’s resort to secret coded language to mobilize far-right voters sets the stage perfectly (or it should have) for another odd Canadian Press story last Thursday, this one about remarks attributed to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly during a radio interview in Montreal. It showed up all over the place.
Global News: Canada has ‘game plan’ if U.S. takes authoritarian shift after 2024 election: Joly. CBC News: Canada mulling 'game plan' if U.S. takes far-right, authoritarian shift: Joly. Toronto Star: Canada mulling ‘game plan’ if U.S. takes far-right, authoritarian shift: Mélanie Joly. National Observer: Canada mulling 'game plan' if U.S. takes shift to the far-right: Joly. And so on.
What does this mean?
When The Going Gets Weird, The Weird Turn Pro. Or Ride West.
I’d already filed my column to the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen on Wednesday, Harrowing two-year journey brings Afghan interpreter who escaped Taliban to Canada. I’d fleshed out the story about my friend Shuja Momuzai into a more in-depth essay for this newsletter Thursday morning, Not What You’d Call A Hero’s Welcome.
The whole Afghanistan story breaks my heart a bit every time I think about it so I was content to be sitting with my pals around our motorcycle helmets and the lunches we’d packed on a sunny and wind-torn raincoast beach Thurday afternoon, fairly certain I was far enough beyond cellular range to be unbothered by the world. But no.
I got a call from Comrade Hero of the People First Class Carson Jerema, my boss at the National Post. You’ve got to see this, he said, meaning the Joly story. Can you file on this for us?
Er, um, you’re breaking up, what? Melanie Joly? She said what? Em, I dunno Carson, I’m way out. . .
Anyway, I agreed. I ended up spending much of the night studying the latest developments in the American Sunni-Shia (I mean Republican and Democrat) divide and the weird rituals involved in annointing their ayatollahs (I mean presidents) and the implications for Canada should the dangerous nutcase Donald Trump triumph over the morally questionable dullard Joe Biden next year.
I filed early Friday morning - more of a backgrounder-explainer thing - but I was a bit displeased with a paragraph that I brought to Carson’s attention. I’d had to write around a problem with the Canadian Press version of Joly’s interview, which had been in French, on a Montreal radio station.
No big deal, but it would be great if we could clear it up before my piece ent live, I said. Carson agreed and was on it straight away, and CP was attentive and obliging. And that’s when things got weird. And this is where things will have to go dark, except for paying guests, beyond this line.
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