On August 2, The New York Times dedicated its entire Sunday magazine to just one article about climate change. Released to a fanfare of adjacent videos, live events, and educational tools, the article argued that in the late 1980s, "we" had "our" chance to deal with climate change, and "we" blew it.
But as Naomi Klein detailed in her acerbic takedown of the piece in The Intercept, blaming diffuse behavioural change instead of institutional power for failing to confront climate change isn't just shoddy analysis, it's dangerous. Not only does this line of argument free the fossil fuel industry, neoliberal policies, and pipeline-loving politicians from responsibility, but it also undermines the very real grassroots effort organizing in opposition to the very real capitalist, extractivist apparatus.
So, what happens when we're all equally to blame for climate change? What happens when mainstream media cobbles together a history of climate change policy that ignores the neoliberal explosion of the late 1980s? The murky logic of these arguments opens up all sorts of bizarre possibilities. Including the one where, as Justin Trudeau’s government pretends, the wholesale destruction of our environment is compatible with reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities and First Nations.
This, of course, is patently false. Land rights and the extraction of natural resources have always been at the heart of settler colonialism. Terra nullius is just another way of saying "there is money to be made out there, folks!" And as Joyce Green and Gina Starblanket point out in their story about the Trudeau government’s legislation on a Recognition of Rights Framework for Indigenous Rights, laws and policies that bypass land rights will, at best, never be more than attempts to appease and abate, and at worst, attempts to "cage" and "neutralize" Indigenous claims to sovereignty.
We can’t sit around waiting for Trudeau’s government to listen and heed -- they’re not interested in a politics of liberation, of real material change. Theirs is a politics of fashion, of lip service, of popularity. And importantly, of capital.
For real reporting on reconciliation and climate change, read Duncan Cameron on Trudeau’s "retail politics" in British Columbia, where he faces massive opposition to his government’s recent buyout of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline project.
Read Emma Lui on how Nestlé is still pumping water -- 3.6 million litres a day, to be exact -- from the Aberfoyle well in Ontario, despite an expired permit and lack of free, prior, and informed consent of First Nations like Six Nations of the Grand River.
And read June Chua’s interview with the writers of a tar sands travelogue that’s one part comic book, one part investigative journalism.
In other rabble news
As the world erupted this summer in opposition to the violence of the U.S. family separation saga, Canadians began to parse the ways in which our immigration system is founded on equally oppressive, albeit perhaps more insidious, principles. From the Safe Third Country Agreement and the Designated Country of Origin list to immigration detention and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Canada’s immigration laws leverage bureaucratic processes to label some people and families -- usually working-class, racialized, and Indigenous families -- as "illegal." Read why Nisha Toomey and Sharmeen Khan, members of No One Is Illegal-Toronto, believe the slogan "families belong together" should be amended to simply "families belong."
Is Canada "back," as Justin Trudeau proclaimed in 2015? Answering that question, the theme of this year’s annual conference of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), necessitates a critical perspective on the policies and impact of bodies like Global Affairs Canada. But as Yves Engler outlines this week, NGOs like CCIC and the academics responsible for the independent assessment of Canada’s international affairs are funded by the very foreign policy apparatus they purportedly hold to account. Read Engler’s brief history of the Canadian international development complex in this week’s blogs.
Sophia Reuss is rabble.ca's Assistant Editor.
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