Not a day went by during the 44th general election without the leaders of the cartel parties stating that they have the solution to the climate crisis. Climate change is wreaking havoc on the peoples of the world, while also endangering island nations, coastal communities and all forms of life on the planet.
For many decades now, the scientific community has been studying the issue of climate change and has documented the link between the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and the corresponding increase in the average global temperature. Fingers are being pointed at hydrocarbon emissions, in particular those created by fossil fuels.
All cartel parties in the House of Commons have come up with their solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They each have their own version of a plan to reduce over time the production of oil and gas. They quarrel over which party has the “best green plan,” echoed by local and national news media outlets, leaders’ press conferences, and even in so-called all-candidates’ debates.
One part of their plan that they all seem to agree on is replacing combustion engine vehicles with electrically powered vehicles (EVs). At first glance, it seems like a plan no one could disagree with, a bit of motherhood and apple pie.
Interestingly, these EVs are powered by high capacity batteries made mostly of lithium as well as nickel, graphite and cobalt to name but a few. Since 2017 the above are all part of what the U.S. administration has been defining as the 35 strategic minerals “critical to its national security”. These critical minerals are presented as part of the “green sustainable economy” and no discussion takes place on overall planned uses of these lithium batteries.
An article entitled “Viewpoint: Offshore Battery Production Poses Problems for Military” was published in the November 2018 issue of the U.S. magazine National Defense. Its author, Marc D. Gietter, a retired industrial engineer with the Tactical Shelters Branch of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), had this to say:
“Lithium batteries — both rechargeable and non rechargeable — have become ubiquitous in almost every weapon system used by the Defense Department. Although it is a relatively small consumer of lithium battery technologies when compared to the commercial market, the importance of these technologies cannot be understated.
“Just about every piece of man-portable electronic equipment crucial to the success of U.S. warfighters on the battlefield is powered by some form of lithium battery. The reliance on them is expected to grow exponentially as the next generation of weapons — such as new tactical ground vehicles, unmanned systems and directed energy weapons — are designed around the high energy density and low weight of a lithium battery technology.”
This military use is worrisome to Canadians who aspire to end the climate crisis, see a new direction for the economy which does not permit pollution, clear cutting and all the other practices which destroy the natural environment and cause catastrophes of various kinds. They are also opposed to the exploitation of natural resources to benefit war production. On the basis of their own aspirations, Canadians question and challenge the environmental platforms of the cartel parties.
The natural and social environment cannot live in harmony unless the people oppose government pay-the-rich schemes, as are presently taking place from coast to coast to coast. By relying on themselves, Canadians know what is required for a sustainable economy that provides for all, respects their rights and is human-centered.
Support the Climate Actions Organized in Canada and on a Global Basis! All Out to Humanize the Natural and Social Environment! No to the Integration of Canada into the U.S. War Economy!
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources said in its June 2021 report entitled From Mineral Exploration to Advanced Manufacturing Developing Value Chains for Critical Minerals in Canada that:
“Critical minerals are essential components of many new technologies, from low-greenhouse gas energy sources to electric vehicles to advances in cutting-edge sectors such as medicine, electronics, aerospace and defence.”
That same Committee underscored the importance of “securing a supply of critical minerals [ ] because access to these resources is not entirely stable and production is concentrated in a few countries, notably China.” It also said that “Canada could also pursue a “continental” approach to guarantee a supply of critical minerals in cooperation with the provinces and territories, as well as the United States.”
The same Committee made important key recommendations that are a call for more pay-the-rich schemes and the further integration of Canada into the “continental” U.S. war economy. Amongst those recommendations, we find the following first two:
That the Government of Canada work with the provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities and governments, the mining industry and research and education institutions to develop a strategic vision for developing Canada’s critical minerals industry;
That the Government of Canada renew its support for the Canadian mining sector so that it can take advantage of the many opportunities offered by developing critical minerals and recognize their unique contribution to advanced technologies and the energy transition by:
– increasing its capacity to carry out geoscience work
– expanding the scope of financial and tax measures
– investing in transportation and communication infrastructure in remote and Northern regions.”
All of this is taken from the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership that the Biden administration and the Trudeau government agreed to on February 24, 2021, from which the Biden administration issued Executive Order 14017 on America’s Supply Chains that same day. Among other things, it states that:
“The Secretary of Defense (as the National Defense Stockpile Manager), in consultation with the heads of appropriate agencies, shall submit a report identifying risks in the supply chain for critical minerals and other identified strategic materials, including rare earth elements (as determined by the Secretary of Defense), and policy recommendations to address these risks. The report shall also describe and update work done pursuant to Executive Order 13953 of September 30, 2020 (Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain From Reliance on Critical Minerals From Foreign Adversaries and Supporting the Domestic Mining and Processing Industries).”
In its 250-page follow-up report entitled Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad-based Growth, 100-Day Reviews under Executive Order 14017, the White House writes on the issue of critical minerals:
“Given the importance of lithium batteries to the warfighter, assured sources of critical minerals and materials and both domestic and allied capability for lithium cell and battery manufacturing are critical to U.S. national security. The supply chain security of minerals, materials, cells, and battery components is of concern today.”
Quebec and Canadian provinces and territories already have many sites used for the extraction of critical minerals for the U.S. war industry such as nickel, cobalt, scandium, uranium, etc.
The Quebec, provincial and territorial governments, along with the federal government, are already bending over backwards to supply the mining oligopolies with the infrastructure and kinds of subsidies and tax breaks the private interests are demanding.
The party-dominated system of representative democracy was the subject of discussion at meetings across the country during the 44th general election. Many expressed interest in the MLPC’s opposition to party government. People raised many examples of the problems they see with the current set-up, from the discredited proceedings of the House of Commons to the fact that the platform on which a party is elected can be thrown out of the window while also declaring it has a “mandate” to rule.
At one get-together with MLPC leader Anna Di Carlo, a participant asked whether proposals to allow “free votes” by Members of Parliament might be a solution. Anna shared her knowledge about proposals that have been made in the direction of lessening party control of the House of Commons, with some adopted but never really implemented, such as party caucus members exercising control over the party leader.
“It doesn’t seem that the upper echelons of the parties in the House want to let go of their control and allow for Members of Parliament either to speak in their own name or vote on their own,” she noted. “More than that,” she said, “all the talk about how the role of political parties in the House of Commons undermines the role of Members of Parliament begs the question: if party domination in the House of Commons is doing a disservice to that institution, why is the same conclusion not drawn about the elections themselves?”
The discussion went on to examine how and why parties said to be political don’t involve people in politics and have actually become a block to political representation and political participation by any definition of the terms. One participant noted that in their experience, “political involvement” only means being asked to put a sign on a lawn during the election, being asked for money and to vote.
Anna shared the findings of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform thirty years ago based on interviews with officials from electoral district associations.
“An NDP official told the Royal Commission that if people knock on their door between elections, ‘we wouldn’t know what to do with them,'” she said. She pointed out that membership in the parties with seats in the House of Commons has become increasingly insignificant. It only gets counted during leadership races when factional infighting is at a peak.
Even the tiny number of people who are registered with the cartel parties don’t have a say in the policies they adopt. Many times resolutions put forward by members or local riding associations at Conventions never even make it to the floor. “Even the traditional involvement of local members selecting candidates has been largely destroyed,” Anna pointed out.
Participants found what has happened to local riding associations to be an eye-opener.
“The problem of people being fed up with the cartel parties, how they work both among the people, during elections, between elections and in the House of Commons is a long-standing problem,” Anna said. She pointed out that as far back as 1991, a Royal Commission reported that 87 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “Parties confuse the issues.”
The absence of ways for people to participate in decision-making not just during elections but in the periods between as well is a problem that must be solved, the MLPC points out. Opposition to the system of party government is an important place to start.