Braid: Steven Guilbeault's latest command – no new roads for all the electric cars

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The Trudeau Liberals are building one special road for themselves — a political superhighway to nowhere.

They will not fund it, however, because the government now denies federal money for any new road or highway in Canada.

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Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault announced this Monday via video link to Montreal.

The policy is so far out on the crazy edge of climate activism that it was easy to confuse his own Twitter account with the one that parodies him every day.

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There should be an official slogan for this policy, maybe “get this show off the road,” or “where the rubber hits the tundra.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford snapped. “I’m gobsmacked. He doesn’t care that you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I do. We’re building roads and highways, with or without a cent from the feds.”

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said: “Does this minister understand that most Canadians don’t live in downtown Montreal?

“Most of us can’t just head out the door in the snow and rain and just walk 10 kilometres to work each day.

“Can we return to the real world, Minister @s _guilbeault?

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The Liberals are trying to ban new roads in the second largest nation on earth after Russia, where these days you can even retreat from Moscow on a road.

Guilbeault says the national road system is just fine the way it is and must not expand.

“The analysis we have done is that the network is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have.

“And thanks to a mix of investment in active and public transit, and in territorial planning and densification, we can very well achieve our goals of economic, social and human development without more enlargement of the road network.”

The money saved by not building roads, he said, can be used to fight climate change.

On Wednesday, Guilbeault tried to walk back his comments, saying he was only referring to large projects. But that’s not the overarching picture he drew with his comments Monday.

His road announcement was breathtaking enough, but Guilbeault wasn’t done.

He went on to warn that electric vehicles — the beating artificial heart of Liberal climate action — are not the answer.

Overestimating their capacity to affect climate change is “an error, a false utopia that will let us down over the long run . . . We must stop thinking that electric cars will solve all our problems.”

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If Canadians really think that, it’s because Ottawa is pouring billions into battery plants and electric vehicle manufacture, while mandating an eventual end to sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Now, Guilbeault veers in a new direction. There won’t be any new roads for the electric cars the government is spending fortunes to create.

Guilbeault doesn’t just say Ottawa will not help build new roads. He discourages provinces and municipalities from building them, too.

Once again, the Liberals’ deeper plans go far beyond what they’ve previously said.

Guilbeault’s language (“our goals of economic, social and human development”) show the core of this effort to transform Canada, step by step.

The escalating policies are now starting to collide with each other illogically.

The government encourages immigration and population growth. That means more communities and growing demand for roads and other services — more goods and people moving by truck and car from one population centre to another.

But Liberal policies are more suitable for a stagnant nation actively discouraged from growing, or a very small country — Liechtenstein, say, or Monaco.

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Canada is a rural nation by geography if not by population. Roads are an eternal political issue. Farmers and communities are always lobbying for new ones and upgrades.

In northern Alberta, to cite just one of many examples from rural Canada, governments have tried for decades to build a road connection directly from the Grande Prairie area, on the west side of the province, to Fort McMurray on the east side.

“The lack of connections in northern Alberta is reducing economic opportunities, reducing quality of life expectations, and keeping families and friends apart,” Alberta’s Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Minister Brian Jean said last year.

That’s the rural reality that can affect how people vote.

What does Guilbeault brag about? Spending $400 million to encourage self-propulsion by roller-blades, snowshoes, cross-country skis, e-bikes and wheelchairs.

All that is just fine, as far as it travels. But a ban on new roads won’t get the Liberals far in an election campaign.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

X: @DonBraid

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