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Canada: Skating to Where the Puck Used To Be

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Good policy depends on knowing where the world is going. Favorite son Wayne Gretzky expressed it perfectly: I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. Canada has been skating to where the Gretzkyopportunities used to be under Stephen Harper. The reason is that he badly misunderstood how the world was changing.

A flood of technological and economic change has washed away the foundations of Mr Harper’s world view. If you look at all the assumptions that he has built his policies on you discover they have crumbled like sand. Here are just a few or the questions you might like to ask your nearest conservative.

Did you think it would be impossible to replace oil as the main energy source in transportation? Did you think no renewable source could compete with coal? Did you think solar power generation would always be costly? Or that of solar installations would stay well below the rate of growth of energy demand?

Did you think wind would never be a viable commercial source of energy? Did you think battery technology was improving so slowly that energy storage on a large scale would never be economic? Did you think the USA would never bring in CO2 emission restrictions? Or that China would never commit to reducing its CO2 emission growth? Did you think that US gasoline consumption would just keep growing? You probably never thought US, Canadian and British per-capita electricity consumption would finally peak and begin to drop.

Did you think that people would never react to the tens of thousands deaths caused by air pollution from coal plants? Did you think it was going to be easy to capture and store billions of tons of carbon dioxide from coal-fired electricity plants?

Did you think that divestment movement would have no impact? Did you think global warming would prove to be a hoax? Perhaps you thought that there would be no noticeable effects of climate change in your lifetime?

Did you think that the major car companies would never start producing electric vehicles? (You certainly never thought that the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year would be a high-speed, high power electric vehicle.) Did you think electric vehicles would always be more expensive to produce that gasoline-powered vehicles?

These errors form the basis of Canada’s ecological and economic policy over the last ten years. The LOST ten years.


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