COVID-19: Conservative Governments Push Agendas While People Suffer

If I’d done a blog post last April 1 on all the gnarly stuff that is going on right now, it probably wouldn’t have passed the sniff-test for a moment before people dismissed it as an outrageously overblown April Fool’s Day prank.

I wish the same could be said about this April Fool’s Day post about how two reckless and irresponsible governments are using the pandemic as cover to further gnarly agendas that, in both instances, are major contributors to crisis we currently find ourselves in. Unfortunately, it’s all too real. Here’s a breakdown.

In a March 27 post, I noted how the Trump administration had taken the unprecedented step of waiving the need for U.S. corporations to observe Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing pollution. Yesterday, Trump and his Republican supporters doubled-down on their disdain for the environment by rolling-back fuel economy standards brought in by the Obama administration to help the country meet its Paris climate targets and reduce air pollution.

As you can see in this L.A. Times report, there will be resistance at the state level, with some automakers having reached agreements with California to improve fuel economy standards independent of anything the Trump administration does. Environmental groups will be pushing back too. Still, it’s a despicable move.

Closer to home, Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced on March 31 that his government would be spending $1.1 billion to help build the long-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S. mid-west along with providing a $6 billion loan guarantee. In our March 12 issue, we did an article on how, with the financial equation for further oil sands development increasingly shaky, both Alberta and Saskatchewan were putting their citizens and their economies at risk by engaging in petro-socialism.

That article was written before the collapse of the global oil market because of the COVID-19 slowdown and a price war between Saudi Arabia, Russia and OPEC. So at a time when a barrel of Alberta oil is apparently worth less than the child’s toy Barrel of Monkeys, and the UCP government is hacking budget support for health, education, social welfare and more, Kenney is siphoning off $1.1 billion and potentially much more to keep an industry that’s already on life support alive for a few years more.

[Update] On April 2, Kenney followed Trump’s example and suspended reporting requirements for corporations under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act and the Public Lands Act.

Happy April Fool’s Day everyone.

One thought on “COVID-19: Conservative Governments Push Agendas While People Suffer”

  1. Without doubt, both Trump and Kenney are fighting for their political lives by doubling down on support from their base. Cynical moves like removing environmental regulations are par for the course for them. It’s exactly why they got themselves elected. However, this pandemic and the economic chaos it creates has focused the attention even of their base on how they manage it, and so far, they are not doing well. I cannot but expect that their base will erode. As one commentator said, all Joe Biden has to do to win is do nothing. Kenney has a longer time to redeem himself in than Trump does, but I expect there will be a severe reckoning for him as well. If $6/bbl oil lasts the rest of the year, the oilsands are dead, and the Alberta government budget with them. Kenney could be the first Alberta premier to introduce a sales tax. In that case, the NDP will be able to compete on a level playing field at last.

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