A recently formed group called the ‘Coalition for a Better Future’ has outlined a plan to re-order and re-orient Canada’s economy from its current largely-free-market basis to one that is a more guided, government-directed venture. Its focus expands beyond such traditional business-oriented objectivess as promoting prosperity, economic growth, profits or rising standards of living. There is an additional and subtle focus on tackling ‘inequality’; ‘sustainability’; and various ESG, ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ notions, including forcibly transforming the energy sector and much more.
Ironically some of what is proposed is antithetical to Western values of individualism and freedom, and the largely decentralized, independent decision making of firms and individuals that has brought about immense prosperity. The focus on achieving Net Zero and otherwise cutting carbon dioxide production is an attack on cheap, reliable energy that successfully powers Canada’s modern, competitive, and high-income economy.
It could be that the initial impression of this coalition is incorrect, and that they are, actually, focused on improving, as they have stated, Canada’s recently dismal productivity and economic growth record, but their anti-energy ESG-tinged pronouncements seem ominous, for ESG is not the benign force its proponents claim it is. As they have several current or former high level private sector managers in their ranks, its stated aim of boosting productivity may be true, but it is unlikely to be their whole focus, which is worrying.
The essence of ESG is that the current order of society and the economy is discriminatory and destructive to the environment, minority ethnic and other groups, and more ‘fair’ outcomes to workers, consumers, and lower income citizens. It evades any responsibility that would more justifiably be that of local, provincial and federal governments to ensure that firms and all economic actors are behaving in ways that are honest, safe, clean, unabusive of market or the environment, and provide opportunities for all qualified employment and contractor or supplier applicants.
It presumes that, somehow, life, the economy and the world are being badly managed by currently dominant players. More community- or social-oriented groups or organizations can better manage our lives, businesses and economic activities, including consumer and energy choices, than we can as individuals: in other words: socialism or fascism, depending on the mix of state or state-directed channelling of permitted actions.
The jury may be out on the Coalition’s project; and it may yet provide useful guidance or ideas that work out for the better. However, the verdict is actually in, in a big way, on ESG itself, and it is a negative one. It is a formula for slower growth, lower living standards and smaller pensions.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has developed seven Policy Tip Sheets that introduce the public to the dangers of adherence to ESG doctrine, all available on the Centre’s website. The first one is an introduction to ESG basics; the second, the roles in ESG of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Ontario Securities Commission; the third, the effects of ESG on free markets; the fourth, a look at the primary architects of ESG; the fifth, the negative effects of ESG on food supply and agriculture; the sixth, the privacy threat of Central Bank Digital Currencies; and the seventh, ESG’s effects on the banking industry.
These tip sheets are easy to read and understand. They are Canadianized versions of original materials kindly shared by a sister organization and think tank, the Heartland Institute, to whom the Centre is enormously grateful for providing a strong template and foundation. ESG is a threat to our way of life and the dynamic and innovative nature of the free market economy. Readers and citizens are encouraged to learn more about it, via these tip sheets and other materials available in the public sphere, and to make it clear to politicians, bankers and investment managers that coerced, involuntary adoption of ESG is entirely not acceptable. Future prosperity and opportunity for this and later generations is very much at stake.