Peter Foster’s book How Dare You! skewers a long list of Halloweenish characters who for two decades have dominated key areas of public policy
Through more than 20 years as FP Comment editor and columnist at the National Post, one of the many pleasures and challenges has been my role as mentor and sage to upcoming young columnists in need of guidance. Andrew Coyne. Jonathan Kay. Jack Mintz. Many others. Coyne and Kay have often strayed and wandered into the climate wilderness. But that is certainly not the case with Peter Foster.
For each of those 20-plus years, Foster has held firm to the basic principles of market economics and to the enlightenment ideas of Adam Smith. In the introduction to his 2014 book, Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism, Foster wrote that “Smith is my constant reference point throughout the voyage of investigation and reflection.”
Smith makes a few appearances in Foster’s new book, How Dare You!, but the 18th-century economic theorist and moral philosopher is only called in occasionally but effectively to skewer a long list of Halloweenish characters who for two decades have dominated key areas of public policy, from climate change to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.
Lined up for tricks are the likes of Al Gore, David Suzuki, Tim Flannery, Maurice Strong, Mark Carney, Justin Trudeau, Klaus Schwab, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, the Pope — and Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist whose 2019 emotional “how dare you!” speech before the United Nations explains the title. Foster says the phrase “reflects the self-righteous authoritarian intolerance of the climate industrial complex and its mouthpieces.”
How Dare You! is Foster’s 10th book, but his first collection of non-book writing. Book-length assemblies of daily newspaper columns run the risk of reading like stale records of yesterday’s events. Not so with How Dare You!, a collection of the best of Foster’s columns craftily organized chronologically within different subject chapters.
A good example is the chapter that relates to Thunberg, titled “Pre-teen traumatic stress disorder.” The chapter opens with a July 1999, column — before Greta was born — headlined “Save the children from green education,” in which Foster goes after Agenda 21 and the Rio Earth Summit for proposing that all children should be indoctrinated about the environment and sustainable development “throughout their schooling.”
In 2007, Foster wrote of his daughter and her Grade 6 class being shown Al Gore’s apocalyptic PG movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Another column explores a Morgan Stanley Investment Foundation use of children to stage a policy session at a G8 meeting in Germany. “The political manipulation of children is age-old and disgraceful,” wrote Foster in 2007. “It has become particularly egregious during the modern age of environmental hysteria.”
Foster has more fun with Pope Francis, Mark Carney and David Suzuki than with Thunberg. A chapter sub-section, titled “Pope Francis: Papal Bull,” contains pointed commentary on assorted Papal declarations and concludes with the idea that the Pope sounds like “the theological wing of the Occupy movement.” A 2014 column asks “Is God green?” and in 2015 Foster declared the Vatican’s climate encyclical “The Pope’s Eco-munist Manifesto.” […]
As a bonus, How Dare You!, which is published by the London-based Global Warming Policy Forum, enhances Foster’s wit with a collection of original and equally cutting illustrations by Josh, the British cartoonist, who cleverly captures the spirit of the columns — including the caricature below of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.