Philip Cross writes at Financial Post Canada The real threat to democracy. Excerpts in italics with my bolds
Having failed at the ballot box, millennial climate activists will
pursue any means to impose their will on society
There are a number of important outcomes from Monday’s election in Quebec. Two of the most important are the eclipse of Quebec’s traditional political parties by new ones, including the Conservative Party of Quebec, and the growing gap between voters in Montreal and the rest of Quebec. But the feature I want to emphasize is the failure of the radical Québec Solidaire (QS) party to significantly expand its base.
Québec Solidaire based its campaign on the environment. It emphasized the existential threat of climate change that teenage activist Greta Thunberg trumpeted at a much-publicized 2019 rally in Montreal where she made the empty boast, “We are changing the world.” QS co-leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called this election “the last chance” to stop climate change, as if Quebec’s actions could have any significant impact on global emissions.
The failure of Québec Solidaire to mobilize more support shows that even Quebec’s supposedly progressive electorate does not support the wholesale reshaping of our society and economy to combat climate change. The Green Party similarly failed to make the case for environmental supremacy at the federal level, seeing its share of the vote halved in the 2021 election from its already low level of six per cent.
Unfortunately, the failure of parties focused on the environment and climate change to win at the ballot box does not deter activists from looking for other means to impose their views on society. The mainstream media portrays the authoritarianism of populist movements such as Donald Trump’s as the greatest threat to democracy today. But this ignores how environmental groups resort to government regulations and lawsuits to circumvent the popular will and achieve their own goals.
Having failed to make their case in the political arena, environmentalists increasingly are asking the courts to impose restrictions that voters have not supported. In a current case (Mathur v Ontario) six teenagers are asking the Ontario Superior Court to agree that climate change is violating their rights and order the government to implement measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions — even though Ontario only accounts for 0.3 per cent of global emissions. The Supreme Court of Canada recently refused even to hear a similar class action lawsuit from another group of young people.
It is unfathomable that courts would agree to usurp government authority and dictate energy consumption, which is the basis of our civilisation and our economy. Yet not one peep has been heard from the media about the anti-democratic nature of this initiative. Instead, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault lauded the youths involved in the Supreme Court lawsuit for their “passion” instead of criticizing their attempt to circumvent the democratic process and subjugate Parliament’s will to the courts.
In her book Paradoxes of Prosperity, University of Cambridge economics professor Diane Coyle notes a fundamental difference between the protest movements of the 1960s and those of today’s millennials. Dissidents in the 1960s were fundamentally anti-authoritarian and libertarian, looking for ways to increase personal freedom and individual choice. Millennial movements, by contrast, especially among environmentalists, have a prescriptive agenda they want to impose on others. Columbia University historian Kim Phillips-Fein observed in her book, Invisible Hands, that environmentalists have long been “hostile to the very institutional framework of a free society.” Young people are especially likely to attach diminished importance to democracy: in a 2017 poll only a third of American youths agreed it is important to live in a democracy while 18 per cent said they would welcome a military dictatorship.
Political parties with radical and draconian environmental goals have clearly failed to win significant support from the electorate. What is different and worrisome for the future of democracy is the growing willingness of millennial social movements to impose their narrow agenda on the public by any other means available. The real threat to democracy today is, not the populist right-wing movements that preoccupy mainstream media, but the attempt of frustrated environmentalists to circumvent elections.