Everything about the behaviour of the Trudeau Liberal government suggests that they believe they have — at the maximum —about 22 months left to govern.How else would one explain little things like using foreign gatherings to announce major policy directions, rather than face the opposition in the the House of Commons? Or, even to find a friendly domestic audience: Not that I’m one to recommend David Suzuki, but even drinkie-poohs in Kitsilano with his eponymous foundation would at least have had the advantage of being a domestic audience for an announcement on emission caps if you must make one. Lord knows, the Suzuki people are ridiculously on-side!Of course, Minister Jonathan Wilkinson might say he stopped short of actually announcing emission caps but then if that’s so, what was the message supposed to mean?Then there’s Minister Steven Guilbeault heading off to Dubai, where he blindsided Premier Danielle Smith, Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz and the Alberta delegation with the news that Canada would cut methane emissions “by a minimum” of 75% by 2030.If climate change is your concern, fair enough. As an agent of global warning, methane is considerably more potent than carbon dioxide.However, when you’re abroad, you have to remember that whatever your domestic differences, you’re all on the same team in front of the foreigners. More to the point, Alberta is already doing it. And it would have cost him nothing to say so. Alberta has in fact reached federally-mandated methane reduction targets three years ahead of target. (Methane is notoriously a product of flaring and from leaks from the joints in pipelines and valves. This is therefore A Good Thing. It was also a Clever Thing: Flaring is a necessary part of safe production, so rather than the minister’s studied indifference, Alberta actually deserved a golden attaboy for meeting the target anyway.)Had Guilbeault thought to mention it, it might have earned him a little goodwill.However, such is his disdain for Alberta (and Saskatchewan, also up in arms over the same announcement, which it regards as a de facto production cut) that he chose to dig deeper the ditches that separate Ottawa and the West, rather than to build bridges across them.It is not as if Smith rejects the goal of carbon reduction, only the uneconomic and potentially dangerous haste with which Guilbeault seems to accomplish it.Indeed, as Smith complained after Guilbeault’s statement, whenever Ottawa sets an arbitrary target, they continue to raise the bar higher. He deserved the stinging rebuke he received.It is hard to resist therefore, the conclusion that the Liberals fear — with good reason — that they are headed for a repeat of the 2011 election that reduced them to a tiny and ineffective rump for four years, and that their response is to abandon procedure, rules, good faith and simply ram through whatever they feel is needed to reach the goals that they — almost alone among the nations of the world — still think are vital to the planet. The COP28 host, Sultan al Jaber, more than many of the delegates, captured the situation elegantly when he said that without fossil fuels, humanity would be “back into caves.” The fact that al Jaber is identified with the production end of the industry, rather than the activist and emotional side of the debate, suggests that he may in fact have a more realistic assessment of what’s actually at stake than they do.These Liberals are zealots, Mr. Guilbeault in particular, and appear to have lost their old ability to do politics — the reasonable bargaining between parties that produces something everybody can live with.Twenty-two months. And for the Liberals, that’s the best case scenario, the one that assumes NDP leader Jagmeet Singh can bear for that long the shame of laying down his reputation to support the prime minister for no apparent reward.Those attending the Conference of Parties 28 gathering in Dubai should be aware that in Canada, this austere assessment is widely shared. Anything therefore, that Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says should be considered by ‘the parties’ as aspirational, rather than predictive.It is likely that neither he nor the prime minister will be there in 23 months, to insist that their destructive agenda is continued.