On March 31, I was filled with rage after waking up to the news that Jason Kenney is handing close to $6 billion ($1.1B US in equity and the rest in guaranteed credit) to the Keystone XL pipeline in the midst of a global pandemic. The announcement comes just two days after he laid off 26,000 public education workers on a Saturday afternoon.
Then, a couple of hours later during his daily press conference, Justin Trudeau defended the continued construction of the TransMountain pipeline. While telling millions of Canadians to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, he had the nerve to justify cramming thousands of oil workers into man camps on unceded Indigenous lands.
Let’s be clear. There is no way that either of these projects can be built without risking further spread of COVID-19 to workers, rural communities, and the Indigenous nations whose territories they pass through.
To top it all off, these decisions to prop up oil and gas companies are coming not only at a time when oil is worth next to nothing, but at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are worried about paying their April rent and while health care workers across the country are struggling to get the equipment they need to protect themselves.
Right now, millions of people across Alberta, Canada, and around the world are stepping up to have each others’ backs, and we expect our governments to do the same. But instead of supporting working people, they’re making the shameful decision to bail out Big Oil billionaires.
That’s why my organization, 350.org, has published five principles for a just recovery from COVID-19. Responses at every level must uphold these five principles:
- Put people’s health first, no exceptions.
- Provide economic relief directly to the people.
- Help our workers and communities, not corporate executives.
- Create resilience for future crises.
- Build solidarity and community across borders – do not empower authoritarians.
Sign onto them here to speak up in support of providing relief to people, workers and communities not fossil fuel companies.
Choices we make today will shape our society, economy, health, and climate for decades to come.
I honestly can’t say what went through Jason Kenney or Justin Trudeau’s minds when they made their respective decisions.
I do know that we can’t make it out of this crisis by worsening the compounding crises of climate change and economic inequality. When I talk to my family, friends, and neighbours, they all agree — priority number one right now must be to save lives and help one another through this pandemic.
If you agree, add your name to the five principles for a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we can make it through this.
Emma Jackson is a Canadian Field Organizer for 350.org. Formerly based in New Brunswick, Emma is now living in amiskwacîwâskahikan, Treaty 6 Territory. This story was originally posted on 350.org and is published here with permission.