Climate change. Inflation. Indigenous reconciliation. These are undoubtedly complex policy problems. Complex to policy follies and downright mystical to everyone else, as addressing it will set off an avalanche of unintended consequences across Canada’s economy.
You might be wondering how we’re going to solve climate change if we’re tackling it, driving up the prices of consumer goods. Or how we should support indigenous reconciliation if our government is unable to implement effective and sustainable climate policies.
However, with a change of perspective, several stories emerge that offer the opportunity to tackle these combined challenges. The complexity and interconnectedness of our greatest challenges can be a strength. It can lead to thinking outside the box, with new and innovative solutions that will finally help us move forward in these critical areas where so little progress has been made so far.
But to take advantage of this opportunity, we need to move away from the short-termism typical of most politicians, focused on winning an upcoming election. We need to get rid of the politicking of these challenges and break with the stories that constantly give us the same, bad results.
Many indigenous people like me follow the philosophy of seven generations of thinking. The main idea is that a decision you make today should benefit people across seven generations. In a democracy like ours, that’s much further into the future than the next election in three years or less. If we apply this idea to our key challenges – climate change, inflation and indigenous reconciliation – we can look beyond popular stories and focus on the real issues. We can talk about climate change without going down on an entire industry. We can see that further suffocating the energy industry with new emissions caps will drive up the price of consumer goods, fuel inflation, increase unemployment and create uncontrollable heating and electricity costs, all of which would result in an overall social downturn. of our standard of living. Many Indigenous people in particular would suffer from Environment Secretary Steven Guilbeault’s proposed emissions cap approach, which would jeopardize our quest for economic independence, self-determination and sustainable community infrastructure – the three pillars that define Indigenous economic reconciliation.
By taking a holistic view of Canada’s challenges and respecting their interconnectedness, we could finally find solutions that make a positive difference in all of these areas.
Nearly 14,000 self-identified indigenous people work for Canada’s oil and gas industry. Their income benefits their families and communities across the country, enabling significant progress in areas that address the poverty and inequality of indigenous peoples.
With billions of dollars invested over the decades, the same energy companies that enable economic independence and self-determination for all these indigenous communities have become world leaders in producing clean energy. They have reduced greenhouse gas emissions – unlike companies in any other country – and are leading the way towards innovative carbon technology solutions that will finally make it possible to meet Canada’s emissions targets.
Yet the federal government wants to further limit the ability of these companies to compete with other global players by introducing a new, unreasonable emission cap.
The implementation of this policy proposal will have many negative consequences. Consumer prices will continue to rise. Our economy will suffer more. Investments in carbon technology will become less likely, making climate change an even greater threat to all of us. And indigenous reconciliation, something the Liberal government supposedly cares about, will become even harder to achieve.
All of this could make it harder to compete with the United States and build out our carbon technology ecosystem to reduce global emissions. If we don’t harmonize our policies and use incentives instead, we’ll be left behind.
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The authors of this legislation do not see or care about the relevance of their proposal for an emissions cap for indigenous peoples. Frankly, both are possible, but the latter seems more likely. They say they have spoken to some Indigenous people, ignoring the diversity of our community and following the false story that all Indigenous people are against energy projects.
Regardless of the reasoning, when all is said and done, 14,000 indigenous people, their families and their communities will suffer from the outcome – without ever having been given a chance to express themselves. Instead, Ottawa will decide, and indigenous communities will face the consequences of linear thinking practiced by a paternalistic government that thinks in short-term political boxes.
Rather than visionary thinking that will benefit future generations of Canadians, the government is taking steps to further inhibit progress to appease voter demographics. Her ‘greenwashing’ climate change policy solution will hurt indigenous and non-indigenous people alike, today, tomorrow and seven generations from now.
Dale Swampy is the chairman of the National Coalition of Chiefs, committed to eradicating poverty on the reservation, and a member of the Samson Cree First Nation.