Listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announce his plans to prorogue Parliament and return with a new agenda for the country, it was clear that he expects to win the NDP over to support his government. Using phrases such as “build back better” and “green recovery” Trudeau signalled a progressive turn. And, like his 2015 election platform, an agenda that puts issues at the core of the NDP on the table.

This means that for the next few weeks, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have a serious chance to impact Canadian politics for the better. To do this, they need to put Canada’s climate ambition squarely on the bargaining table.

For that, they need to broach two big, connected issues. The first is that both building back better from COVID-19 and tackling the climate crisis will require a massive economic transformation in Canada. To achieve this kind of made-in-Canada Green New Deal requires a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels and massive government investment. Both of which are caught up in the second issue — the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In the time since Trudeau bought Trans Mountain, the climate crisis has only worsened. We’ve seen record-breaking high temperatures stack on top of one another, extreme weather events become the norm and long-warned-of feedback loops speed up warming beyond what most scientists had predicted.

On the scientific side, we’ve seen numerous reports, the IPCC 1.5 C report most notably, tell us that while we have a chance to meet this crisis, doing so requires a rapid transition away from fossil fuels.

Basically, we’ve learned that even if the Trudeau government was able to do some creative carbon math to try and rationalize Trans Mountain when they bought it, that math has been quickly made irrelevant by a rapidly warming world.

And that’s only part of the problem. Since its purchase, the cost of Trans Mountain to the public has also skyrocketed. Earlier this year, then-finance minister Bill Morneau revealed that the cost of the pipeline had more than doubled from $5.4 billion to $12.6 billion. That was before COVID-19 brought inevitable delays and disruption to the project, and a potentially higher price tag.

This is a problem because, at the end of the day, Canada’s COVID-19 recovery plan is going to have to be a choice. Either our government will choose to prioritize people and our planet, investing in things such as green jobs, Indigenous rights, and public health and education. Or, Justin Trudeau will choose to do what we’ve seen him do countless times before, signal progressive action before backing policies that maintain the status quo.

Trans Mountain is a microcosm of this choice. Either we spend billions of dollars helping people and communities weather the storm of COVID-19 and the coming recession, or we spend that money on a climate-wrecking pipeline.

In the last election, the NDP said they would be the party that held Trudeau’s feet to the fire. And, giving credit where credit is due, they have done so throughout this pandemic, winning concessions from the government that have truly helped most working people.

But right now, the NDP have a massive opportunity to do more than just win a few concessions. By putting Trans Mountain on the negotiating table, and drawing a bright line between a truly Just Recovery and a plan that continues to serve the interests a wealthy elite, they can help shift Canada onto a path that gives us the greatest chance of not only tackling this global health crisis, but the social, economic and climate crises we face.

Of course, convincing Justin Trudeau to defund Trans Mountain won’t happen overnight. But if the NDP brings the pipeline into their negotiations with Trudeau, it will force a national conversation about Canada’s post-pandemic priorities.

"Trans Mountain is a microcosm of this choice. Either we spend billions of dollars helping people and communities weather the storm of COVID-19 and the coming recession, or we spend that money on a climate-wrecking pipeline."

This is critical, since as we saw back in February when the cost of Trans Mountain rose, support for the project plummeted. One might hypothesize that, in the midst of a global pandemic, the public may be even less supportive of throwing billions at a pipeline instead of spending that money keeping our children, teachers and front-line workers safe.

This kind of scrutiny will only be possible with a political reckoning. And this kind of reckoning is exactly what the NDP have a chance to create, with Justin Trudeau counting on their vote of confidence in September. With everyday people being crushed under the weight of the economic, climate and social health crises we face, we can't afford to let this opportunity slip by.

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You must be joking. Jagmeet will never oppose a union. It's political suicide for him and his broke-ass NDP. Plus he has consistently supported CPC, and his party cannot afford an election. Dream on.

You got kids? Grandkids? You want a livable planet for them to live on after you're gone? We've had it pretty good, now how about our descendants? The time of fossil fuels is over.. It's time we turn our money and innovation toward developing renewable resources and stop subsidizing Big Oil.. Now! If Trudeau wants to stay in office, he'd better listen to the NDP and the Greens..

What is CPC, please?

Why oppose the union? Give the union workers a huge package--retraining, bridge money, guaranteed renewables-sector jobs at the other end. Give the union a strong voice in managing the whole process. The NDP shouldn't want to hose workers anyway--it's not their fault the jobs on offer come from corporate greedheads killing our future.

I am fascinated at the lightening quick NDP hater remarks in recent articles in the NO. Could they be trolls assigned to muddy the waters with generic hater kneejerk irrelevance ?

I appreciate the fact that NDP in BC is equivalent to red liberals here in ONtario where the NDP are an echo of leftish liberal chat but languishing under Horvath's complete inability to get any press or speak clearly of alternatives to corporate solutions. What about the three greens in BC? They are never heard from though they supposedly hold the balance of power. they are never quoted here in this climate emergency focussed paper?

If there is one thing we can count on it is the corporate mainstream press telling us how unrealistic and useless the NDP are, while in cognitive dissonance land, folks who never question that view of the NDP think Tommy Douglas, medicare and universal pensions rank constantly as things Canadians are most proud of. People should refresh their memories of the vile, hysterical, mean and violent things said about the NDP and Douglas when they did "whacked out " things like oppose Spanish fascism and Hitler in the 30's.
I continue to remind myself that nobody screams "the sky os falling" louder than rich smug corporations.

The BC NDP has always taken a strong "no" to TransMountain. I recall a West Coast Indigenous leader (personally) and not speaking for the Coast Protectors endorsing Jagmeet Singh in 2019. When Ecojustice went before the Supreme Court of Canada over "protection of land and water", I believe the BC Provincial Government may have alsi participated with "intervenor" status. Unfortunately, the top Court dismissed the challenge - based on the lack of such protection in the Canadian Constitution.

Yes, the federal NDP have been at the forefront for introducing the Green New Deal. Let's envision some positive, good faith policy aspects in advance of the opening of Parliament come September 23, 2020.

Please remember that the BC NDP party is now separate from the federal NDP party.

That'd have been the CCF ... which was only a part of what became the NDP in a merger. I remember CCF election signs in my little BC village ... and then the pleasant face on the CCF campaign posters gave way to another face, and the label "NDP." I'm *old*, yes ... but not so old I remember the 30s!
There've been a few Conservative/BigOil sympathizers here, mainly woefully uninformed or misinformed, whose only real complaint has been that NO publishes the side of the story that mainstream media doesn't.
And likely they're among those who've worked for Big Oil, or still do. Either in the oil fields, or online. I have some sympathy with the plight of the former: not many jobs you can get with a Grade 10 education that pay over $200K a year.
I hope they've bought subscriptions.

The Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline should be brought to a graceful death because we should not be constructing any new fossil-fuel infrastructure.

As well, it makes no economic sense; it is being built to transport heavy oil (diluted bitumen) to tidewater, to load on tankers, and ship to international markets. The existing pipeline can and has done that, but never to its capacity to do so. The existing pipeline is used for other purposes, mainly transporting light oil to refineries in Washington State, despite the National Energy Board granting some priority access to the tanker terminal. The last tanker load to the USA left on April 7. Since then a flurry of eight tankers went China as a result of the oil price collapse, the last on June 11; and one tanker left on June 20 for St. John, New Brunswick. It is now over two months later and no more tankers have loaded. For detailed documentation send an e-mail to me at huntley{at}sfu.ca.

How the oil companies expect to sell heavy oil internationally is a mystery. They should be required to submit a new economic case for building the pipeline.

This is good information on actual shipments. Thank you.

Indeed, 400 tankers a year from the TMX spigot to Asia (TM website) which will supposedly pay premium prices for a low a quality product with trans oceanic shipping costs on top ... are these prognosticators from Mars?

The saddest outcome could still come to pass, that somehow the feds get the pipe done by 2024 over vociferous opposition and great electoral risk (the Conservatives will build it), topping $13B, and just in time to ride the market demand slide downward due to electric vehicles entering global economy big time by every major car maker. And the chances will still exist that a tanker will defy the corporate risk assessment minimizers an hit Tumbo Island, with the resulting environmental disaster translating over years in court to many more tens of billions in damages through international lawsuits.

That outcome must be avoided, of course, and one way would be by increasing the conditions the NDP hold over the Liberals without taking them down in a non-confidence vote. Liberal support is now higher since the last election because of their good management of the pandemic (at least by comparison to the US and other countries with high case counts), therein they will probably get a majority in a snap election. What this tells us is that co-operation and working together more closely is key instead of making verbal threats and issuing needless negativity.

Thinking long term in this vein could result in better policy with respect to decarbonization (new Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland remarkably does not shy away from that word) and environmental justice than sticking to the traditional adversarial shouts and insults across the House floor, which could lead to the crowning of Erin O'Toole as PM if it gets bad.

The NDP and Liberals should start talking about a coalition.

Mr. Fenton has this exactly right. The NDP has a huge opportunity to cancel the TMX project for many reasons as the writer has explained. The other critical piece is to redirect funding to a Green Deal investment in Alberta's economy - not to win votes as the Liberals' purchase of the pipeline didn't do so, but to support average Albertans including young people who need a new economy post-fossil fuels, and the rest of Canadians who need climate change action.

In a recent study, climate scientist Drew Shindell says that the USA can pay for the transition away from fossil fuels from the savings ALONE in health care costs caused by pollutants from those fuels.
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/8/12/21361498/climate-ch...
This is a real game-changer to the here and now as this pollution is local and immediate, whereas the CO2 causing climate change is a shared global problem with its worst effects still in the future.