Good Sunday Morning!
It has been another dreadful grief-stricken week of the ongoing tragedy and horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas, but we have to continue our work wherever and however we can.
This week will my last in Ottawa for this parliamentary session. It will be busy with the Finance Minister delivering the Fall Economic Statement on Tuesday, November 21. The Green Party gets an advance look in the “lock up” Tuesday morning, so Mike, JP and I, plus team members, will quietly analyze and dissect the embargoed text and work together preparing our response. Pretty predictably, it is likely to focus on confronting the affordability crisis, so I worry if there will be much if any focus on the climate crisis and the unravelling of global stability. Peace must be at the heart for our work. Climate action cannot wait.
Regular legislative work continues as I press for changes to protect the Salish Sea from the routine despoilation from freighter anchorages. Sadly, Bill C-33 gave us little scope, but I will be presenting and arguing for my amendments in Transportation Committee tomorrow. Fingers crossed for any improvements.
This weekend I was in Kitchener Centre campaigning for Aislinn Clancy, our Green candidate in the upcoming provincial by-election. The Kitchener Centre vote is on November 30. Fingers and toes crossed! Her lawn signs are everywhere! On Friday night, I attended a moving candlelight vigil for climate action. Saturday, Aislinn and I walked together with both great Ontario Mikes – Morrice and Schreiner – in the Santa Clause parade, then went door to door to great response. Last night was the nomination meeting and celebration of two years with Mike Morrice as the first Ontario Green MP! All so very encouraging!
Next Sunday will find John and me on the train to New York City to attend an international meeting of parliamentarians in support of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
By November 29, we will be airborne for the long flight to Dubai for COP28 and the UNFCCC climate talks. More in next week’s letter as to why and how I still think it is important to work at the international level in these COP sessions.
On Tuesday, Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement is likely to mention government efforts to cut spending, but we still need pharmacare and more programmes to eradicate poverty. Funds to cover those costs will be found in excess profit taxes on fossil fuels, as well as banking and insurance. We need a wealth tax on the billionaire class. When looking at places our government should cut spending – an exercise we used to call “Green Scissors” – the list is long. Cancel the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, with costs heading towards the $31 billion mark, fulfil the long stale-dated promise to end the billions of subsidies to Fossil Fuels. Cancel subsidies to so-called “Carbon Capture and Storage” over-hyped and underperforming. Sorry this article is behind a paywall, but was the most recent article I could find and it’s from a business friendly source: Bloomberg.
“In recent years, however, energy modelers like the IEA have added increasing amounts of CCS to their medium-term scenarios because countries and companies are moving too slowly on reducing emissions. If the world is going to have any shot of reaching the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, it’s going to need more and more CCS. And such has been the delay, that carbon capture technologies will also have to be deployed to remove CO2 directly from the air to undo some of the damage already caused. At the upcoming COP28 climate summit, organized by the oil exporting United Arab Emirates, there’s widespread expectation that the global oil industry will be encouraged to double down on deployment.
“But what’s happening with prior buildouts contradicts the forecasters’ increasingly hopeful reliance on CCS as a climate tool. A new Bloomberg Green investigation reveals that the world’s largest carbon capture plant, built in Texas by Occidental Petroleum Corp., never operated at more than a third of its capacity in more than a decade of operation.” Carbon Capture Desperately Needs a Reality Check After Lost Decade.
We need to cancel federal funds to so-called “Small Modular reactors”, an over-marketed non-solution to climate change. The media has swallowed the latest nuclear snake oil hook, line, and sinker. No such reactors are producing commercial electricity anywhere on earth. The farthest along in the US, planned for Idaho Falls, was canceled this week. In Canada, as I have mentioned in this letter before, the big corporate pusher is SMRs, with a key role in building the proposed nuclear plants, is SNC Lavelin, now renamed AtkinsRéalis. SNC Lavalin changing its name to AtkinsRéalis in effort to shed parts of its past.
Another place to cut is in money to consulting firms. I just finished a stellar expose of the world’s most powerful global consulting firm with claims to be the most prestigious – McKinsey and Company. The book, When McKinsey Comes to Town, by New York Times journalists Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe, is a deeply shocking piece of work.
One of my favourite economists and truth tellers, Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Stiglitz had this to say after reading it:
“Bogdanich and Forsythe show how McKinsey, rather than optimizing social welfare, optimizes corporate profits and greed. In doing so the Firm has become a super spreader of corporate misdeed and contributed to America’s growing inequality problem. Hypocrisy, avarice, ridiculous power points, aiding and abetting the world’s polluters and drug companies. Every page made my blood boil as I read about McKinsey’s flawed reasoning and the vast profits made from ethically dubious work for governments, polluting companies and big pharma.”
McKinsey received $2.2 million over nine years from the Harper administration. Under the Trudeau Liberals the amount ballooned to over $100 million.
I am really curious about how McKinsey’s managing partner Dominic Barton became Canada’s ambassador to China. His starting point in achieving power in Canadian politics was under Stephen Harper who appointed him to the Advisory Council on Public Service. In 2016, Bill Morneau brought him in as a key economic advisor to Canada.
Digging in, the policy directions taken by Canada on issues from the Infrastructure Bank to Immigration policy bear evidence of significant influence from the McKinsey consultants and contractors we were paying. The whole thing is troubling – to put it mildly.
Dominic Barton is Canadian, moving here as a child with parents fleeing Idi Amin’s Uganda where he was born. Barton is credited with helping free the two Michaels, a claim a recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal rejects. He is widely quoted as supporting climate action, despite McKinsey’s general reputation to the contrary. The company has done lots of work for coal companies, including notably Teck. Barton served as Global Managing Director of McKinsey from 2009-2018, thus not in time periods directly implicated in McKinsey’s plan to “turbocharge” opioid sales for clients in Big Pharma, nor to McKinsey’s role in their client Enron’s frauds. It does put him in the time frame of McKinsey’s role in the South African corruption scandal now before the courts. Barton was also managing director through the deepening and cozy relationship with the Saudis. One McKinsey contract involved identifying, through social media, the critics of the Saudi regime, such as Khashoggi. On Saudi critic of the kingdom living in Montreal, Omar Abdulaziz, was told that McKinsey had been monitoring his social media posts and Youtube, critical of Saudi government policy, and sending reports to the Saudi government. Khashoggi contacted Abdulaziz to take on the Saudi internet trolls and work together against the regime, and then he was murdered. Abdulaziz has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to sue McKinsey.
One of the stunning things in the chronicles of a company responsible for recommending deep cuts in staffing in companies from Disney to Walmart to U.S. Steel – decisions that led to deaths and deepened misery, to “off-shoring” decimating the American middle class as corporate profits bloated, in all of this, McKinsey as a management consulting firm wrapped itself in the language of “values” and putting the client first. Whatever damage is done, and massive damage there is, KcKinsey never gets nailed.
The value of one consulting firm’s federal contracts has skyrocketed under the Trudeau government. By the time Trudeau appointed Barton as Canada’s ambassador to China, just as McKinsey was cozy with the Saudis, Barton had built a profitable base in the PRC. Barton was living in Shanghai and developed a client base among the PRC’s state-owned enterprises. He even gave speeches promoting China’s Belt and Road strategy, the government of the Peoples Republic of China’s plans to link the world through massive infrastructure projects, significantly expanding the PRC’s geopolitical power.
I am baffled and angry that the work of the Government of Canada was contracted out at a higher cost than if our professional civil service, from its heyday of excellence, had done the work. There are many more questions to be answered, and I will keep digging. Running through the core of the deep and disturbing corporate takeover of public life is a recent tolerance and even celebration of greed.
I keep trying to imagine how we, as Greens, can campaign for a return to values – not Pierre Poilievre and his version of “Common Sense” – but to basic common decency, to a restoration of the shared commitment to the well-being of all, to the common wealth and the Common Good. Can we change just that one letter? – remove the D from GREED and make it GREEN….
For now, apologies for such a long letter, but thanks for helping me try to shape these thoughts by writing you on this Sunday morning!
Have a great week!
Love and thanks,