David Suzuki on energy is like Canada’s Donald Trump – except it’s hardly funny
David Suzuki on energy is like Canada’s Donald Trump
By Bill Whitelaw
Sept. 28, 2016, 7:05 a.m.
Dear, oh dear…what to do with David Suzuki?
He’s the lead in the same style surreal drama south of the border that is currently fascinating Canadians.
Suzuki on stage plays Canada’s mainstream media like a cheap fiddle. He’s the master square dance caller when he wants them to do-si-do around his views of the country’s petroleum sector.
He lays out for media consumption outlandish and provocative declarations, like his most recent assertion that Saskatchewan is in a carbon crisis and that its premier is a carbon denier.
It brings to mind last fall’s feat of fancy: comparing the oilsands sector to 19th-century southern slavers based on the flimsiest of links. That tenuous tie: both slavers and oilsands supporters put economic arguments in front of moral imperatives in defending their industries.
What? Oilsands operators are just like southern slavers? Who knew?
Why, you can hear the whips crack north of Fort Mac all the way to Calgary.
What headlines! What soundbites!
Even social media can’t make this stuff up.
The media laps it up like free soup at a service club luncheon.
Now he’s stirring things up in Saskatchewan.
Here’s the problem: when you have a go-to source like a Suzuki, each time he’s interviewed, the “outlandish threshold” is set higher because, after all, who wants to hear the same old, same old.
In many respects, Suzuki talking these days is somewhat akin to Donald Trump debating himself: rich in metaphor, poor in fact.
Indeed, Suzuki is so secure in the delusion he has ordinary Canadians in his camp, he can just say what he says and no one steps up to say, “Hey…wait a minute…”
It is actually kind of sad.
Suzuki was once a commentator worthy of the gravitas he was legitimately accorded. He heightened consciousness at critical junctures and gave the environmental movement a much-needed credibility.
He was once iconic. No longer.
At a time when the nation needs builders around the critical debates Canadians need to have about energy, the environment and the economy, Suzuki is a destructive, not productive, force.
Suzuki’s utility as even an imagined check on the petroleum sector’s imagined evils, has a tainted, detrimental quality to it.
He’s turned into a querulous old armchair critic, a relic of environmental discourses of days gone by. Young Canadians seeking role models to define how they will approach climate and carbon should look for alternatives.
Media, which is still itself sorting out where it wants to land on the environment, exacerbates the problem by treating him with the “respect” accorded old curmudgeons who are still capable of pounding the floor with their walking sticks to get attention.
Of course, the interviewers ask him the “tough” questions but like Donald Trump, Suzuki dances and deflects and Teflons his way through the discussion because, he is, after all, David Suzuki.
What the media should understand, if its various forms want to build their own credibility with Canadians, and play a productive and responsible mediating role, is that some people just don’t deserve time in front of a microphone.
It’s not censorship. It’s good judgment to know when someone is adding value to critical discourses — or when they’re eroding them.
It’s astonishing then to see Canadians show such consternation at presidential events south of the border when we have our own lamentable laugh-fest north of the 49th.
Except it’s hardly funny.