Home Month and Year February 2020 A Modest Suggestion for the War Room

A Modest Suggestion for the War Room

Frank Atkins

The Opposition NDP in Alberta do not much like the Canadian Energy Centre, unofficially called the war room. While pretending to be defenders of the oil and gas industry, the NDP claim the war room is a waste of taxpayers’ money because it does not produce any results.

There are two interesting points to be made here. First, I find it very interesting the NDP can use the term “taxpayers’ money” while in Opposition. When they were in power, spending money without visible constraints, it was never called taxpayers’ money and they did not dare refer to where the money was coming from (it was mostly borrowed because they had already spent all taxpayers’ money). Second, I am not certain how you could possibly measure any results from the war room.

The war room seems to be looking for what is commonly referred to as fake news. A lot of the criticisms of the Alberta oil and gas sector are just biased opinions, coming from people with little knowledge about what they are talking about. This may be fake news, but it is very hard to fight.

If I may make a modest suggestion, I think the war room could benefit from a bit of a shift of focus. Yes, fight fake news whenever possible, but there is a much more pervasive target out there called hypocrisy. This comes in obvious forms – such as watching David Suzuki fly all over the world to protest the use of fossil fuels – and also the type of form where you have to put the pieces together.

A recent Canadian Press article gives a good example of this type of hypocrisy. The CP article noted that Canada (and most of the rest of the world) is facing a looming airline pilot shortage. In response to this, the federal government is working on programs to train more airline pilots. On the surface, this seems like a government worried about problems in the job market and trying to act to correct these problems. Nice vote getter. However, put this together with the fact that on June 17, 2019, the House of Commons passed a bill declaring a “Climate Emergency” in Canada. The motion referred to climate change as a “real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians’ health and the Canadian economy.” If you believe this, we are not dealing with an everyday run-of-the-mill crisis, but something that requires urgent action.

Apparently, part of this urgent action involves training more airline pilots. The government seems to have missed the connection between the fact that airplanes use fossil fuels, and the government view that fighting the climate emergency requires reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Perhaps David Suzuki is advising them.

Frank Atkins is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.