SULLIVAN: While the Earth burns, we complain about gas tax

Well, it’s more than one hour since Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party were elected to govern Alberta, and he still hasn’t turned off the flow of tar sands oil to B.C.

In fact, Kenney was elected a week and a half ago and the pipeline to Burnaby, right across the inlet from Cates Park, is flowing as usual.

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So much for campaign promises.

I’m not exactly daring Kenney to make good on his promise to “turn off the taps” to B.C. in retaliation for the B.C. government’s resistance to an expanded pipeline for diluted bitumen (a fancy term for tar sands oil). But you could argue that if he does, he’ll be doing the fish a favour.

While Kenney was putting his transition team into place, the rest of us “celebrated” Earth Day this week. Lest we forget, Earth Day was established in 1970 in response to a devastating oil spill that occurred a year earlier off California’s coast.

The spill poured more than three million gallons of oil into the sea and killed more than 10,000 aquatic animals.

Since then, humanity’s track record has been increasingly abysmal: half the world’s animals have died off since Earth Day was established, and the rest of them, according to the U.S.-based Center for Biological Diversity, are disappearing at the rate of dozens per day. At that rate, up to 50 per cent of all species will be extinct by 2050.

The largest remaining land animal will be the cow.

Not to worry; scientists say it will only take about three-to-five million years to recover.

So you’ll pardon me if I feel like encouraging Little Big Mouth to put his money where his mouth is and go ahead and turn off the taps. Maybe he’ll inadvertently do some good.

Sorry, but the stark message of Earth Day combined with Canada’s latest constitutional crisis all playing out in our own backyard is tough to ignore.

At least, I thought it would be. The biggest story in this week’s news cycle has not been the Massacre of the Wild, it’s been the motorists’ complaint that it costs $1.70 a litre to fill up the SUV.

I guess it’s not all that hard to understand. When you’re confronted with evidence that the Apocalypse is well underway, you might as well complain stupidly about the high cost of gasoline.

The other time-honoured tactic is to find someone else to blame. Like Justin Trudeau, who’s trying to cut greenhouse gases while taking ownership of a pipeline for the dirtiest petroleum substance produced on Earth. (A pipeline that empties into our own backyard, need I remind you?)

Or John Horgan, the B.C. premier who’s trying to stop the flow of bitumen and a potential devastating spill while building his own Petroleum Park for liquefied natural gas in northern B.C.

Both of these gentlemen are conflicted, as gentlemen often are, but compared to Jason Kenney, they are guardian angels of the environment.

Yet Kenney is scapegoating the PM even though the PM went ahead and bought him a nice $5-billion pipeline. I mean, what does he want?

What he wants is an end to the carbon tax that is supposed to pay for the conversion to clean energy and lower the threat of climate change. The carbon tax is Trudeau’s quid pro quo for buying the pipeline. But is Alberta grateful? Nope. Kenney calls Trudeau’s national energy plan “a complete failure.”

So while he threatens to turn off the taps to punish Horgan, he threatens to lead a rebellion of the provinces against the carbon tax and threatens to defeat Trudeau in the upcoming federal election.

The key word here is threat. Alberta has elected someone who’s not afraid to fill the media pipeline with low-grade, unrefined threats. It’s like a toxic word spill and we’re still assessing the damage.

It’s not good enough that we’ve killed off half the animals and the rest will be gone in 50 years. It won’t matter that the effects of climate change go from global warming to irreversible in the next 12 years. At least we won’t have to pay that nasty old carbon tax.

Columnists are supposed to ask questions that come with answers. But I have no answer to the question: Why Jason Kenney? Or the bigger one: Why are we all so blind?

Journalist and communications consultant Paul Sullivan has been a North Vancouver resident since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Madonna. p.sullivan@breakthroughpr.com

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