Kenney government uses rhetorical hammer to nail David Suzuki
Pass Prime Minister Trudeau, there is a new villain in Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s sights: David Suzuki, Canada’s octogenarian environmental activist.
On Tuesday, Kenney launched a verbal attack on Suzuki that included a two-hour debate in the Legislature in which government members called the science broadcaster, among other things, “potential eco-terrorist.”
United Conservative members, front and rear, lined up in support of a government motion that condemned Suzuki’s recent comments on pipelines as well as “any comment calling for the intentional destruction of energy infrastructure” and “unequivocally condemns the incentives to violent ecological terrorism. “
What drove Kenney and his caucus into such a frenzy was a comment Suzuki made to a reporter during a protest against Extinction Rebellion in Victoria last weekend about the need to do more to combat the climate change.
âWe’re in a deep, deep doo-doo,â Suzuki said. âThis is what we have come to. The next step after that, pipelines are going to explode if our leaders are not careful what is going on. “
Suzuki later told another reporter that he was not advocating violence. His comment certainly sounds like a warning, not a threat – a prediction of potential violence, not an incitement to violence.
However, the Government of Alberta looked at the quote like a drowning man and grabbing a lifeline. This, for Kenney, was proof that Suzuki – an environmental hero to many – was not just an environmental activist but one who supported environmental terrorism, or in the terminology of Government Motion 104, “eco-terrorism “.
âAnything that can be interpreted as encouraging the explosion of pipelines as an act of environmental activism is incredibly irresponsible and shameful,â said Energy Minister Sonya Savage. “This is an incitement to violence, and David Suzuki should apologize wholeheartedly.”
You could certainly argue that Suzuki should have chosen his words more carefully. Even the David Suzuki Foundation has distanced itself from its founder’s quote: âWhen David speaks in public, he speaks for himself – not for the David Suzuki Foundationâ.
You could also argue that Suzuki can be a bit of a selfish blower infatuated with his own rhetoric. But it could also describe government deputies and their own language on Tuesday.
Savage, for example, stretched rhetoric and logic like silly putty to the point that she seemed to suggest that not only are there groups that openly advocate violence against Alberta’s oil and gas industry, but that ‘they are well funded by shady organizations. âWho funds these organizations that lead to acts of violence? Who encourages it? Savage wondered. âThis is beyond sabotage and vandalism; it is terrorism. Foreign funding of these terrorist organizations is something we should be looking at. “
It was the same partisan paranoia that launched the government-sponsored Allan inquiry into anti-Alberta activity that went over budget, on schedule and under-execution.
Environment Minister Jason Nixon used his own take on Suzuki’s comments to criticize new Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley with an argument of guilt by association because they supported or were supported by Suzuki at some point in their careers.
Suzuki, for example, had backed Notley’s carbon tax five years ago when she was prime minister.
In Nixon’s rhetoric, Notley’s NDP “appreciated David Suzuki’s support for his job-killing carbon tax and for the climate change policies that have wreaked havoc across the province and ultimately account, in parts of this country, using the support of an organization whose founder and namesake used language that incites violence or demands violence in some way when it comes to pipelines.
If there is a prize for the most convoluted and / or tenuous rhetoric from the Alberta legislature, let me be the first to nominate Jason Nixon. And, by the way, a report by the Government of Alberta found that the provincial carbon tax had a negligible effect on the provincial economy.
The government’s rhetoric against Suzuki got so hot at times that the acting president had to step in and warn MPs: a bridge too far. I call on all members to be careful with the language they use in this place.
Undoubtedly sensing the pressure from the government side of the assembly to say something, several NDP MPs also criticized Suzuki’s comments, with MP Kathleen Ganley saying, âI condemn the use of violence or incitement to violence. violence to make a point as well as the risky and potentially dangerous comments by David Suzuki reported by the National Post.
But Ganley also pointed to the source of Suzuki’s frustration which led to his “doo-doo” comment. Too often, she said, governments do not do enough to tackle climate change: âWe have to work hard to deal with the realities of climate change. This is the hard work this government has refused to do.
On Tuesday, the Alberta government was only interested in the easy work of partisan politics with its inflated condemnation of David Suzuki – and by extension anyone connected to Suzuki over the years.
This has undoubtedly benefited the Government of Alberta and helped to piss off its Conservative base.
But maybe the next time they want to spend two hours condemning something, they could turn to their own uneven climate change record.
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