A 2016 rabble blog piece on Justin Trudeau's "over-promising" drew hot comments.

Jeffrey Simpson, now retired as columnist for The Globe and Mail would write at year’s end about what he got right — and where he had been wrong. I intend to try something similar in this blog posting.

Most of my 21 posts with rabble in 2016 attracted just a few comments, but one abut Justin Trudeau and another about climate change deniers attracted numerous replies. Often writing about the deniers is like kicking a hornet’s nest — they come after you in swarms. On rabble, however, it was not the deniers but rather their critics who were most prominent in reply and for that I am thankful. 

In the interests of honest information exchange, I refer climate-change deniers to another piece of damning evidence against their position. It is contained in an investigative article just published in the New York Review of Books. It describes how thousands of scientists in the employ of ExxonMobil have warned their bosses for decades that climate change is real and that its consequences will be dramatic. In fact, their conclusions are similar to that of scientists at NASA and elsewhere. And despite that, ExxonMobil has regularly given money — usually through right-wing think tanks — to groups of climate-change deniers. The intent is to sow confusion and buy time to profit from exploiting their carbon reserves.

Katharine Hayhoe on climate 

In another post, however, it was I who made a comment that was ill-considered and unfair. I wrote about Katharine Hayhoe, a scientist, evangelical Christian and Canadian who teaches at Texas Tech University. She’s very good at speaking to church goers about climate change in terms that they understand, and she’s gaining a positive reputation for doing so. My conclusion was that while she’s doing important work, it’s less effective than that accomplished by people who organize rallies to send politicians an activist message. A rabble reader posted the following comment: “You have created a false dichotomy. People who hear a message from the pews can also put their feet in the street. The U.S. civil rights movement is a perfect example.” That was an appropriate comment. I had been wrong and uncharitable. 

Justin Trudeau’s honeymoon

Another one of my rabble posts, about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political honeymoon, drew a lot of hot mail. In that January post, I gave Trudeau credit for an important shift in tone from that of the Conservative government that preceded his. But I also said that he had “over-promised” in the election campaign and that he would inevitably “under-deliver” in policy terms. In a number of the comments,
I was criticized for being too hasty in my judgment.

That’s fair enough. But today, the Liberals are 14 months into their mandate. More recently, Trudeau gave a lengthy news conference, talking about the year that was. Neil Macdonald, a veteran and crusty CBC journalist, described it this way: “Justin Trudeau manages to say less than most of his predecessors, and takes longer to do it. Listening to him is like trying to drink cappuccino foam.” So on that note, let’s just wait to see what Trudeau does in 2017. And to all a good night.

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