Prime Minister Trudeau was on my mind when I was up at work this week in Northern Alberta. Actually, he was almost impossible to avoid, as every radio personality and worker, from the lowest truck drivers to the highest of operational administrators, seemed to be talking about the Prime Minister and what he had said about the Alberta Oil Sands. Most of what was said about our leader, and another recent commenter on our situation up in the frozen wastes, Jane Fonda, is unrepeatable in any polite society, or even a degraded society; fun fact: people who have never read a book, can summon quite eloquent death threats.
The point of contention that had everyone up in arms, was a comment made by Trudeau about “phasing out,” the oil sands. He talked about it as if it was an immediate necessity, and no sooner had the words left his mouth did seemingly everyone who works up here launch into tirades about how this hack-job preppie rich kid was going to shut down everything within a two hundred kilometre radius, put everyone out of work, and then use taxpayers dollars to drive to every oil and gas worker’s house to promptly slap the food out of their children’s mouths.
Although Trudeau isn’t exactly in my good books these days, I still think that the hate that was piled on him for this remark shows certain ignorance to phrasing. Yes, the timing could have been better; as making these remarks in the aftermath of yet another celebrity flyover, whether he was aware of it or not, felt like piling on to a town still reeling and rebuilding. No, the companies at the top of the oil and gas industry aren’t hurting, but the people who staff the ground level work at many companies and contractors take personal offence to people calling out their jobs as an unethical affront. It’s no better when their own Prime Minister mentions this while the same community is handling an unstable economy and the aftermath of a vicious natural disaster.
Anyway, back to the phrasing of phasing.
Saying that something needs to be phased out, or is going to be phased out, to my mind implies a slow and gradual process; it does not say anything about immediate needs or immediate plans. As an example: Obama has been phasing out Guantanamo Bay for his entire term in office. Things have been phased out in the past: the typewriter, VCRs, the auto industry in Detroit, prop planes, and many more industries, fads, movements, and policies. Saying it does not make it so. Because of this, Trudeau’s statement is in no way as inflammatory as was perceived by those in Alberta. The knee-jerk rage reaction that was summoned up by our Prime Minister’s desire to begin an incredibly slow process, called phasing out, was completely unfounded, and reeked of a cheap way for The Right to bind people together, and force environmentalism to the fringes, “where it goddamn belongs!”
“Phasing Out” implies no immediate action. If someone were to say that they planned on, “phasing out,” certain elements of their lives, you would not assume that these actions were on the docket for the next few weeks, but would be an ongoing process.
In political speak, “phasing out,” means bullshit. It is always in reference to an issue that people care about, that requires action, but is an issue too divided to have a concrete stance on. A politician saying such, means that they wish to take action on it, but have no ideas how to do it, or if they will do it at all. Trudeau saying what he did pleased environmentalists, and also let business continue as usual without fear that anything significant is coming down upon the heads of those in charge. As evidence to this point, the Prime Minister recently approved a whole smattering of pipelines, which are fed by the fucking Oil Sands. Does providing a new source of financial gain, job creation, and reason to increase production sound like any way to slow something down?
No. It doesn’t. It sounds like bullshit.
Much has been made of the carbon tax that Trudeau plans to implement. Many are quick to add this carbon tax towards the recent crimes against the oil industry and those that work in it that he has perpetrated. However, the carbon tax is not a method of phasing out, but of continuance. The carbon tax charges Canadians for the methods and crimes of the Oil and Gas industry, while doing nothing to halt that industry or curb its own methods. It’s akin to phasing out child hunger by charging people for not finishing their meals at restaurants; it does nothing to end or fight hunger, but charges individual citizens for something in the same ballpark as the issue.
If, years from now, Trudeau were to mention that he planned on phasing out the carbon tax, we would expect to keep paying it for a good long while.
Trudeau isn’t saying something worth getting fired up about, regardless of where you stand on the issue. He’s saying nothing while making an awful lot of noise.