Canada’s National Observer is thrilled to announce our lead columnist Max Fawcett has won a National Newspaper Award for column writing.

Winning the Mary Ann Shadd Cary Award for column writing is not easy; this category gets more nominations than any other and Max was up against the largest news organizations in Canada. The award is a tribute to Max’s distinct voice, crisp writing and informed analysis, qualities that shine in all his work.

While you are no doubt familiar with Max’s no-holds-barred columns and feisty Twitter (now X) feed, you may not be acquainted with his softer side. So, instead of waxing on about what a congenial, generous colleague he is, I thought I would share his acceptance speech, which sheds some light on a different facet of his personality.

“It was an honour to be nominated, but let me tell you: it’s a joy to win.

“I want to thank my editor, Adrienne Tanner, my copy gurus Shelley Wallis and Dana Filek-Gibson, and my publisher Linda Solomon Wood for giving me all the support a columnist could need. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined the Observer a few years back, and I’m sure they felt the same about me, but it’s clearly been a fruitful relationship.

“I also want to thank my first boss in journalism, the late Ruth Kelly, who taught me to love magazines and Alberta and tried to teach me a few things about patience, discipline, and which fights are and aren’t worth picking. I’m still working on that last one.

“Finally, I want to thank my family, and especially my wife, for helping me lead a life that brings me so much happiness. I have always been too opinionated for my own good. But at last, it's starting to pay off.”

We are beyond proud of Max and in case you missed them, here are his winning entries, which include an examination of the Conservative attacks on the federal government’s climate policy, the federal Liberals’ carbon tax communication problems and the war on expertise.

Keep reading

Congratulations. Well deserved.

Yes, three cheers for Max Fawcett.
Who else can bounce back and forth between several contrary positions with such nimble grace?
Act as cheerleader for new oilsands export pipelines on "the country's most trusted voice in climate journalism"?
Promote O&G industry's false climate solutions like carbon capture — rejected by all ENGOs?
Hold the two main federal parties to glaring double standards without so much as a wink?
And serve up bad political advice week after week for free?
Amazing feats of acrobatics.

A longtime supporter of carbon pricing, Fawcett now urges the Trudeau Liberals to abandon their signature climate policy:

1) "Conservatives tweet while Canada burns" (National Observer, Aug 22 2023)
Fawcett: "Will Canadians in Ontario and Quebec want to give Poilievre free rein to 'axe the tax' and effectively hand premiers like Smith and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe a free pass to pollute at will? And are they really prepared to go backwards on climate change right as the rest of the world accelerates ahead with their own policies and plans?
"I won’t pretend to know the answer here. But I know that’s terrain the Liberals would much rather be fighting the next election on — and Poilievre’s Conservatives would desperately like to avoid."

2) "The carbon tax is dead. Climate policy doesn’t have to be" (National Observer, March 20 2024)
Fawcett: "If the Trudeau Liberals don’t cut this increasingly heavy political anchor loose, it’s going to drag them even further underwater.
"… Trudeau may even want to fall on his carbon tax sword, perhaps thinking that it will somehow escape his own fate the way the GST did a generation before. But if he has one last trick in his political bag that can fundamentally change the political mood the way his pledge to run deficits did in 2015, this is probably it. Kill the carbon tax and live to fight another day."

Only a month later, Fawcett was back supporting the carbon 'tax'. Talk about whiplash.
3) "Justin Trudeau should say yes to a carbon tax showdown" (National Observer, April 11 2024)
"It’s time for Trudeau to serve up something much more substantial: a televised national climate conference. … The prime minister should convene this conference over the summer when MPs aren’t distracted by the federal budget or any other legislative priorities — and when the impacts of climate change are most visible and obvious to Canadians. He should summon a roster of experts, from economics to environmental scientists, to explain precisely how the federal carbon tax works."

Fawcett's policy advice is absurd, of course.
As Fawcett himself observed, "Poilievre would become even more insufferably smug, and he'd spend months serving up the supposed victory to his anti-climate policy supporters."
Cancelling the carbon levy now would hand simply hand a big victory to Poilievre and Conservative premiers in thrall to the fossil fuel industry.
Politically pointless. The Liberals cannot save themselves by axing the tax.
If you hand Conservatives the victory on carbon pricing, do you think they will stop there? No, they will just proceed to attack the next climate policy, and the one after that. Opening the door to total defeat on climate policy in Canada.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"

Fawcett's support for O&G export pipelines — premised on a bright future for fossil fuels — comes as no surprise. The former editor of Alberta Oil Magazine and Liberal Party cheerleader has argued for the Trans Mountain Expansion project and taxpayer-funded carbon capture:
-"Should the government kill the Trans Mountain pipeline project?" (National Observer, Feb 22 2022)
-"Steven Guilbeault leads Canada through the hard choices on the road to net-zero" (April 18 2022)
-"Suncor goes back to the future with its new CEO. Are its net-zero ambitions next?" (Feb 22 2023)
If Fawcett has a climate plan, it is a plan to fail. Something the Trudeau Liberals and Poilievre Conservatives also have in common.

Fawcett criticizes Conservatives for "protecting the oil and gas industry’s status quo than the people and communities its emissions put at risk", but he has yet to acknowledge that the Liberals prove little different on this score. As Fawcett notes, under the Liberals, the O&G industry is enjoying record profits on record production.
While the Conservatives "cover their shame with the fig leaf of “technology”, the heroic Liberals buy and build "climate" pipelines and funnel billions of tax dollars into the O&G industry's fake climate solutions: carbon capture (CCS), SMRs (small nuclear reactors), and blue hydrogen. How many billions will the Liberals sink into EV and battery plants?

The Liberals are the party who insist that Canada needs to sell more fossil fuels to fund climate action.
Trudeau: "I took a lot of grief across the country for buying a pipeline. But I knew that if we want to be able to pay for the innovation, the transformation of our economy to be greener, to be cleaner, we need to get the best possible price for our oil products now, and that means getting out across the Pacific. That meant twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline.
"That's why we bought the pipeline, because it was good for Alberta and it's good for the country."
"Braid: Trudeau doesn't look like a Prime Minister who's ready to quit" (Calgary Herald, 21-Feb-24)

So why is a fossil-fuel dinosaur on the wrong side of science and history given prime real estate on the front page of The Observer — "the country's most trusted voice in climate journalism"?
If the former editor of Alberta Oil Magazine is "setting the agenda on the climate conversation", that is a real problem.
If I want to read fossil-fuel propaganda, I will turn to Postmedia newspapers. I do not wish to read CAPP's talking points on The Observer, much less pay for their propagation.

Well, good for him. I often disagree with Mr. Fawcett, but he writes well and he can be counted on to write about things that are worth writing about. Even if I don't see eye to eye with his take, in an era when so many people just avoid the important topics, just taking them on becomes valuable. A man worth arguing with.

Congratulations Max! Well deserved. In this age of oversimplification and skimming the surface of issues, your work truly stands out above the rest. I really enjoy your columns because i know you have looked at the entire picture and are letting the reader see all of it. For that i am very appreciative.

Congrats too