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Monte Solberg: Why Trudeau’s broken tree planting promise matters


Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau plants a tree with his sons at the Frank Conservation Area in Plainfield, Ont., October 6, 2019. Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press.

Everyone wants to save the Earth, but no one wants to help Mom do the dishes. – P.J. O’Rourke

Not all who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien

The reasons for the Trudeau government’s poor political standing are many. You don’t usually fall behind your chief opponent by 20 points for a single reason. But a key reason is that the prime minister and his team promise big but underdeliver. A towering symbol of this is their promise to plant two billion trees by 2031 to reduce GHGs. The program is off to a bad start.

By itself, not a big deal. Trees aren’t usually a ballot issue, but the tree program represents a pattern that is hard to ignore.

Last year in an audit, Canada’s environment commissioner, called out the tree planting program for failing to get timely agreements with the provinces, failing to get commitments through to 2031, not giving nurseries the certainty and time they need to start growing 350 million trees a year, and generally poor planning. The program didn’t even have annual tree planting targets. Where’s a deliverologist when you need one?

The report also noted, and this is infuriating, that in 78 sites where 10,000 or more trees were planted, they planted all the same species of tree, a monoculture. The commissioner noted in the bloodless language of the public service, that monocultures “do not support biodiversity and other benefits related to environmental and human well-being.” No kidding. Enhancing biodiversity is one of the key goals of the entire program. How could they get this so wrong?

There is more and it’s depressing reading.

Rudyard Griffiths: Our panicking elites


President Joe Biden during a presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. Gerald Herbert/AP Photo.

It is hard this past week not to wonder what is happening to Western political elites. From Biden’s debate debacle to Trudeau’s by-election blowout to Macron’s parliamentary election meltdown, everywhere, all at once, our governing elites seem to be in retreat if not collapse. It is the ideological equivalent of the Ernest Hemingway maxim about how we go bankrupt: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” Why is this occurring? And what does it say about the future of our elites?

Much of our thinking about why elites are facing a crisis of legitimacy is itself a narrative constructed by the leadership class in politics, government, and the media. The story is familiar to the reader. Elites today face powerful and destabilizing forces that are out of their control. They are battling mass disinformation and misinformation on social media. Foreign actors are manipulating and poisoning their democracies. Inflation has roiled voting publics, panicking them about rising prices and falling living standards. The “far-Right” is weaponizing migration for crass political purposes. Big corporations and their powerful lobbies are thwarting needed reforms. Climate change is the polycrisis of our time, destabilizing everything from the economy to geopolitics. And so on, and so on…

None of these claims, taken individually, is demonstrably false. But taken together, they show a persistent, if not intensifying, bias among our political elites to blame outside groups and forces for their failures, real or perceived.

This past week’s trifecta of elite blowups in the U.S., Canada, and France revealed just how deep the neurosis of “blame avoidance” currently is within the commanding heights of our politics, media, and governments. The consequences are far-reaching and will reverberate for months to come.

Exhibit “A” of the particular flavour of elite crisis we are now witnessing is last Thursday’s U.S. presidential debate.