As the pendulum swings

It appears that Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Notley have gotten the right balance between economics and the environment because both extremes, the far right and far left, are frothing at the mouth.
The far right wanted it all—three pipelines, no carbon tax and the continuation of coal –fired power generating plants. The far left wanted it all as well – no new pipelines, coal-fired electricity plants decommissioned immediately, carbon tax and the oil sands mothballed.
Both extremes do not believe in compromise. In their own minds, they are absolutely right and the other guys are absolutely wrong.
Truth be known, both are absolutely wrong in a democratic governing context.
In her book, “History’s People”, Canadian bestselling author, Margaret MacMillan reminds us again of the words of our longest serving Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, “The extreme man is always more or less dangerous, but nowhere more so than in politics.”  “In a country like ours it is particularly true that the art of government is largely one of seeking to reconcile rather than exaggerate differences—to come as near as possible to the happy mean”, said King.
Today in a world of ‘me first’ there seems no longer the possibility of a happy mean, but instead success as a politician could be defined as both extremes equally mad at you.
Does it hurt individuals and small businesses in the short term to have a carbon levy?  Of course it does. Does it hurt employees of coal-fired power plants and nearby communities? Absolutely. Does it hurt future generations if we keep on heads in the sand?  Unquestionably.  All change has winners and losers, but we can’t just step out of this world and do our own thing. We are connected whether we like it or not.
Don’t think the industrial revolution didn’t hurt real people, but we all love our cars today.  Don’t be surprised that more people will be hurt as the world fully automates even more jobs, including truck driving.  Yet humans do have the brain power and ability to adapt and change. If we choose not to, however, history has never been kind to those who fight or deny new realities.
Then there’s the far left that seems not to have a clue that a civil, democratic government is sustained only when the majority of its people are working and in the middle class. It’s a fantasy to think that we can just shut down the entire oil sector in Alberta and not expect anarchy to follow.
The decisions by Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Notley might cost each of them the next election because in a post-empathy, post-truth era, compromise is seen as a weakness, not a strength. Today it is winners take all and the losers get what they deserve—nothing!
It’s too bad we don’t learn from history because the opposite is the proven winning strategy in a healthy democracy. But alas, the pendulum keeps swinging.

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