Nothing just about government’s “Just Transition” for north

Amidst the peak of a global pandemic, when many Canadians are hurting from illness, isolation, financial hardship, and record level uncertainty of the future, the Government of Canada quietly rolled out an announcement that proved they are tone-deaf to the working class who built this country.

The announcement proclaimed the government was interested in hearing from you on the topic of “Just Transition” of natural resource workers and communities impacted by the federal government’s intention to shut them down.

Oh, you didn’t hear about it? We’re not surprised.

The announcement was made in June, nearly four months ago. And the quietness with which it was rolled out suggests they didn’t want you to hear about it… or for you to think too much about what it means for you either.

The government describes “Just Transition” as a principle determined to see that displaced resource workers are treated fairly as the government slowly eliminates the industries that provide jobs.

Hold on Ottawa. We think you missed a step in this decision-making process; but again, why should we be surprised. The working people of this country are seldom included in the decisions that directly affect them. We are always last to know.

Make no mistake, the decision to phase out resource industries, towns and workers has been made. The federal government’s ‘Just Transition’ exercise isn’t an engagement; it’s a decision.

The words “Just Transition” are simply flowery marketing to lull you into believing you have a choice in the matter. You don’t.

The federal government is targeting what they deem high carbon industries first. So, if you work in British Columbia’s hydrocarbon sector, mining, agriculture, or what are deemed ‘heavy emitter’ processing plants you should be preparing yourself for the decisions that have been made without you.

Northern BC will be most directly hit and first impacted. It will take a bit of time, but the trickle-down means urban centres will eventually feel the impact as demand for natural resource industry services and supplies dry up.

Introducing this at a time when Canadian workers are needing certainty and recovery is a calculated and callous act. “Just Transition” is just nice wording for poverty and unemployment.

The North Matters, as a citizen-led group, will be engaging Ottawa on this. We have questions for them:

• What is “just” about a decision that throws families further into turmoil and uncertainty?

• What is “just” about putting the planet’s leading sources of GHG reducing capacity in jeopardy?

• What is “just” about ripping economic reconciliation away from First Nations communities who are finally gaining independence through partnering in natural resource development?

You can participate too by visiting the Natural Resource Canadas website: www.rncanengagenrcan.ca/en/collections/just-transition.

Steve Simons and The North Matters Team