Climate change. inflation. Reconciliation among the indigenous people. These are undoubtedly complex political problems. Complex for political experts and downright mystical for everyone else, because addressing it causes a torrent of unintended consequences across the entire Canadian economy.
One might wonder how we are supposed to solve the problem of climate change when addressing it leads to higher prices for consumer goods. Or how are we supposed to support indigenous reconciliation if our government is unable to implement effective and sustainable climate change policy.
However, with a change of perspective, different narratives emerge that provide an opportunity to address these common challenges. The complexity and interconnectedness of our biggest challenges can be a strong point. It can lead to thinking outside the box, with new and innovative solutions finally moving us forward in these critical areas where there has been very little progress so far.
But to open up this opportunity, we must move away from the short-term thinking typical of most politicians focused on winning the next election. We must move away from the politicization of these challenges and away from narratives that constantly bring us the same bad results.
Many Aboriginal people like me follow the Seven Generations Philosophy of Thinking. Its basic idea is that the decision you make today needs to benefit people seven generations from now. In a democracy like ours, this is much further into the future than the next elections in three years or less. If we apply this idea to our most important challenges – climate change, inflation, and indigenous reconciliation – we can look beyond the popular narratives and focus on the real problems. We can talk about climate change without demonizing an entire industry. We can see that stifling the energy industry with new emissions ceilings will drive up consumer prices, fuel inflation, increase unemployment, and create uncontrollable heating and electricity costs, all of which combined will result in an across-the-board cut across society for our group. The standard of living. Many Indigenous peoples in particular will suffer from the emissions cap approach proposed by Environment Secretary Stephen Gelbolt, to the detriment of our quest for economic independence, self-determination and sustainable community infrastructure – the three pillars that define Indigenous economic reconciliation.
Looking at Canada’s challenges holistically and respecting their interdependence will allow us to find solutions that make a positive difference in all of these areas.
Approximately 14,000 self-proclaimed Indigenous people work in the Canadian oil and gas industry. Their incomes benefit their families and communities across the country, allowing significant progress to be made in areas that address the poverty and inequality that indigenous peoples suffer from.
With billions of dollars invested over the past decades, the same energy companies that facilitate economic independence and self-determination for all of these indigenous communities have become global leaders in clean energy production. They have lowered greenhouse gas emissions – unlike companies in any other country – and are leading the way to innovative carbon technology solutions that will finally make achieving Canada’s emissions targets possible.
However, the federal government intends to further limit these companies’ ability to compete with other global players by implementing an unreasonable new emissions cap.
The implementation of this policy proposal will have many negative consequences. Consumer prices will rise even more. 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 reconciliation among the indigenous population, something the Liberal government presumably cares deeply about, will become increasingly difficult.
All of this can make it difficult to compete with the United States and build our carbon technology ecosystem to reduce global emissions. If we don’t coordinate our policies, and use incentives instead, we will be left behind.
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The authors of this legislation either don’t see the importance of their emissions cap proposal for Indigenous people, or they don’t care. Honestly, both are possible, but the latter seems to be the most likely. They say they spoke to some Aboriginal people, ignoring the diversity of our society and following the false narrative that all Aboriginals are against energy projects.
Regardless of the logic, when all is said and done, 14,000 Aboriginal people, their families and their communities will suffer the outcome – without ever being given the opportunity to express themselves. Instead, Ottawa will decide, and Aboriginal communities will face the consequences of linear thinking applied by a patriarchal government contemplating short-term policy frameworks.
Rather than applying visual thinking that would benefit future generations of Canadians, the government is taking steps to further block progress to satisfy voter demographics. Solving the greenwashing policy on climate change will harm indigenous and non-indigenous people alike, today, tomorrow and seven generations from now.
Dil Swambe is president of the National Coalition of Presidents, dedicated to defeating reserve poverty, and a member of the Samson Cree First Nation.