Preston Manning is the founder of the Manning Centre.
It was George Santayana who observed that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The current gyrations of the Trudeau government on the energy/environment front may well provide further proof of the truth of that statement.
Historical fact: Shortly after Trudeau the First was elected in 1968, on a wave of Trudeau-mania, the government was obliged to address a crisis – the OPEC crisis involving a sudden quadrupling of oil prices.
Present reality: Trudeau the Second is elected in 2015, on a wave of Trudeau-mania, and also feels itself obliged to address a crisis – global warming.
Historical fact: The government of Pierre Trudeau responded to the oil crisis by doing what all governments are instinctively inclined to do. It instituted a tax – the Petroleum and Gas Revenue Tax (PGRT) − which eventually moved $100-billion from the petroleum-producing provinces to the federal treasury and the consuming provinces.
Present reality: The government of Justin Trudeau responds to its crisis by doing exactly the same thing. It institutes a tax – the carbon tax, with provision for it to grow and spread to all provincial jurisdictions.
Historical fact: The government of Trudeau the First decides that it needs to become a direct player in the energy sector and acquires private-sector assets via a newly created Crown corporation – Petro-Canada. It also appoints a good Liberal, Maurice Strong, as president and CEO.
Present reality: The government of Trudeau the Second decides that it needs to become a direct player in the energy sector and buys the Kinder Morgan pipeline company, now a de-facto Crown corporation. No doubt its future CEO will also need to be a good Liberal and the company will be given a more politically correct name. (Some wag has suggested calling it Hinder Horgan.)
Historical fact: Trudeau the First promised that Petro-Canada would eventually be sold at a profit to the benefit of the Canadian taxpayer and returned in great shape to the private sector. (When Petro-Canada was eventually privatized, its share price fell from $13 to $8, its first-year loss was $603-million, and 6,000 of its 11,000-person work force lost their jobs.)
Present reality: Both Trudeau the Second and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, based on their vast experience in the corporate world, have indicated that Kinder Morgan will eventually be sold at a profit to the benefit of the taxpayers who financed its acquisition and returned in great shape to the private sector.
Historical fact: The Liberal Party of Trudeau the First went from holding 154 seats (27 of them in the West) in the 28th Parliament elected in 1968 and forming a majority government, to holding only 40 seats (just two of them in the West) in the 33rd Parliament elected in 1984 as the electorate passed judgment on its National Energy Program.
Future Reality? The Liberal Party of Trudeau the Second won 184 seats (29 of them in the West) in the 2015 election, to form a majority government. If history continues to repeat itself, the Liberal Party of Trudeau the Second may well be reduced again to opposition status after the 2019 federal election – as the electorate passes judgment on its bungled management of the energy/environment interface.
Lesson: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.