Image: Flickr/Mark Hill

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Star NDP candidate Linda McQuaig went off message for a brief moment on CBC TV on Friday and did the seemingly unthinkable in mainstream politics these days — she told the unvarnished truth!

McQuaig stated, completely correctly, that for Canada to hit its climate change targets “a lot of the oil sands oil may have to stay in the ground”; which is, of course, an obvious fact.

But facts and political narratives are not the same thing and all of the mainstream parties, the Greens included, indulge in the fiction of “sustainable” fossil fuel production and usage.

A fiction it remains, however.

Fossil fuel usage is literally destroying the worldCar culture may yet kill us all.

But in North America where this culture is deeply ingrained it is essentially forbidden to admit that we cannot tackle the looming catastrophe of climate change without ending car culture and without profound changes to fossil fuel usage and production. 

After her comments were reported all over the media as some type of fundamental heresy, Stephen Harper, of course, pounced on the comments claiming they showed the NDP has a “hidden agenda”.

Sadly, this is not at all the case.

The NDP  not only immediately distanced itself from her statement, but the NDP also, as much as any other party, perpetuates the fantasy that “economic growth” as it has been understood since the dawn of industrial civilization, and averting environmental disaster are compatible — which they are not.

For the record, though — and in the interests of reality — here is what McQuaig was talking about:

British researchers have concluded that most of Canada’s oilsands will have to be left in the ground, if the world gets serious about climate change.

The report, published in the journal Nature, says three-quarters of all Canada’s oil reserves and 85 per cent of its oilsands can’t be burned if the world wants to limit global warming. The report also concludes that no country’s Arctic energy resources can be developed if global temperature increases are to be kept manageable.

It adds that about one-quarter of Canada’s natural gas reserves and four-fifths of its coal would also have to be left in the ground.

Now we can pretend that this is not true, which is what our “leaders” and our society is doing, or we can grow up.

Either way, if we continue to fiddle with political fantasies while the planet burns, who was right about this will become very clear soon enough anyway. 

We can only hope that at that point it is not too late.

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Image: Flickr/Mark Hill