Canada’s polluted politics
To explain Canada’s dismal record on climate change is to understand the toxic grip that oil holds over its government
When George Monbiot wrote his searing judgment of Canada‘s recent descent into what he claimed is a « petro-state, » he was talking about Canada’s global reputation. But what he was actually addressing is a long history of domestic inter-governmental and inter-regional strife, currently embodied by Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister. Monbiot’s article left many Canadian heads spinning: how did we get to this point?
Highway 22 in southern Alberta skirts along the barrier between flat prairie to the east and rolling foothills that quickly give way to the towering front range of the Rocky Mountains to the west. And on that highway, somewhere between Longview and Millarville, is a large white sign displaying a message in tall blue letters: « More Alberta, Less Ottawa. »
The slogan is that of the Alberta Residents League, a fringe advocacy group devoted to giving the province greater autonomy from Canada’s federal government in Ottawa. On its website, the league states its allegiance to the Alberta Agenda, a 2001 « open letter to [then] premier Ralph Klein by six prominent Albertans, » urging Klein to, among other things, « take all possible political and legal measures to reduce the financial drain on Alberta caused by Canada’s tax-and-transfer system … Albertans transfer $2,600 per capita annually to other Canadians ». Among the original six signatories of the Alberta Agenda was Stephen Harper.