Obama reconsidered

‘I love this country,’ Obama told us in February. But that was then.

by The Editors

Obama reconsideredBarack Obama’s presidential victory was an exciting moment for Canadians as well as Americans; we too thrilled in the prospect of a new era in American politics. Half a year on, that excitement is wearing off. The recent evidence from Washington appears contrary to our best interests. Should we be changing our minds on Obama?

The decentralized nature of American politics means Obama can’t be blamed for everything the U.S. government does, but he bears responsibility for broad directions and wields significant powers of persuasion. How he uses these powers (or doesn’t) is significant. Take trade relations.

Obama campaigned as a protectionist and promised to rewrite NAFTA. Since his election, he has recanted somewhat and, to his credit, removed “Buy American” provisions from federal projects funded by his massive stimulus bill. Yet he has also stood aside as various state and local stimulus provisions have shut out Canadian bidders and erected de facto trade walls. This in turn has given rise to an equivalent “buy Canadian” movement here at home. Canadian federal and provincial politicians have put considerable effort into trying to stop this protectionist train wreck; Obama has done nothing.

On the environment, the proposed U.S. climate change legislation, Waxman-Markey, constitutes a major threat to Alberta’s massive oil sands, one of the key drivers of the Canadian economy, and ignores our efforts to improve it. The bill also threatens our ability to participate meaningfully in broader North American climate change policy.

Many Canadian provinces are participating in regional climate plans alongside U.S. states, designing a cross-border regional carbon trading plan. Yet such international co-operation could be nixed as Waxman-Markey proposes to pre-empt regional approaches in favour of a Washington-imposed solution. We will thus lose a say in the process.

There’s also the prospect that the environment and trade files will come together in a perfect storm for Canada. As-yet-undefined pollution permit rules under Waxman-Markey could be used to shelter American firms from imports under the guise of environmental regulation by U.S. protectionists during Obama’s watch.

Last year Maclean’s warned readers that they might view former U.S. president George W. Bush in a different light once he left. While Canadians generally had a low opinion of his tenure, Bush was in fact a strong and committed supporter of many causes dear to our national interest, including trade, open borders and energy. “We’ll miss him when he’s gone,” we wrote. It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.




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Obama reconsidered

  1. "On the environment, the proposed U.S. climate change legislation, Waxman-Markey, constitutes a major threat to Alberta's massive oil sands, one of the key drivers of the Canadian economy, and ignores our efforts to improve it."

    I'd like to ask the Maclean's editors exactly how we're trying to improve the tarsands (which is what their real name is). Do the editors view pouring money into a technology that may not even work for the tarsands (Carbon sequestration) as somehow being a) defined as an "effort" and b) worthy of not ignoring? Because, quite frankly, if that's all Canada is doing, then Waxman-Markey is right to ignore that.

  2. To begin, I for one don't miss George Bush. Not a bit.
    Although only a first step, the House passage of this bill will send a huge signal to the rest of the world – the U.S. is finally in the game. Ready to lead the effort to a more sustainable, more energy secure future. Countries that have resisted even modest reductions can no longer accuse the U.S. of merely talking and dictating to others what they would not themselves do. Canadian governments had years – both Liberals and Conservatives can share the blame – of dragging their heels on climate change. Harper and Co. have known for at least a year or more that Obama was serious and squandered opportunties to be proactive and thus have a greater say in the process of establishing emissions guidelines. At least now Harper will have to start doing something, rather than stalling, as he's done over the past three years. The solutions are mostly market driven – an approach that stimulates and rewards innovation – isn't that what capitalism is about? No, far from reconsidering Obama, I'm even more impressed.

  3. I don't know one person who sees Bush in a better light. As time goes by more of his treachery on his own country and the world is being revealed. The more we wish that his presidency had been over 8 years ago.__The first thing Obama should have done is brought Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to trial. __Obama is trying his best. Too bad the constraints keep him from getting the job done as soon as we'd all like.____B C Leonard__Toronto

  4. No one that I know misses George Bush. The treachery he placed on his own country and the world is being revealed every day and the more we wish he had gone 8 years ago.
    Obama's first act should have been to bring Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to trial, either at home or in the Hague.
    Obama has done his best under the circumstance. It's too bad the constraints he has to work under.

  5. The sophistry you see above is endemic to the liberal mentality: believing that because something is called a 'bill to fight climate change', it's actually a bill to fight climate change. But perhaps the flaw goes deeper, since 'climate change' was itself just political spin to try to cover the fact that 'global warming' was essentially disproven.

    And perhaps it's too much to ask that people who make something their cause actually keep up with the science behind it, or divest themselves of ideology. Then they might know about the large number of scientists who have taken a stance against the anthropogenic global warming religion; or the recent issue with the EPA blocking release of a report by one of their own staffers that showed that 'global warming' is a bunch of nonsense.

    Heck, you folks don't even appear to know that Greenpeace doesn't want the Waxman-Markey bill. Perhaps if you watched CSPAN and saw the blatant deal-making on the floor, where politicians sold their vote to be exempted from rules or to have 'anti-pollution' rules changed to include sources of pollution, you'd understand why.

  6. The sophistry you see above is endemic to the liberal mentality: believing that because something is called a 'bill to fight climate change', it's actually a bill to fight climate change. But perhaps the flaw goes deeper, since 'climate change' was itself just political spin to try to cover the fact that 'global warming' was essentially disproven.

    And perhaps it's too much to ask that people who make something their cause actually keep up with the science behind it, or divest themselves of ideology. Then they might know about the large number of scientists who have taken a stance against the anthropogenic global warming religion; or the recent issue with the EPA blocking release of a report by one of their own staffers that showed that 'global warming' is a bunch of nonsense.

    Heck, you folks don't even appear to know that Greenpeace doesn't want the Waxman-Markey bill. Perhaps if you watched CSPAN and saw the blatant deal-making on the floor, where politicians sold their vote to be exempted from rules or to have 'anti-pollution' rules changed to include sources of pollution, you'd understand why.

    The fact that you're "impressed" doesn't impress anyone but yourselves. You're uninformed idealogues, in the thrall of a used-car-salesman whose administration has been nothing but a disaster.

    As for as missing George Bush – it's hard to miss someone when their successor keeps every single one of their policies. Heck, Obama's even ramped up the 'air raiding of civilians'. His only new policy was to add insurmountable debt and take over a bunch of corporations. What a guy.

  7. I've been missing George Bush since the day he left office. Obama is a disaster. No surprise there though; this is the guy who reassured Canadans re his NAFTA statements that we should trust him because he's lying.

    It was refreshingly weird to have a White House occupant who meant what he said and generally showed mature judgement.

  8. If Obama's policies spell an end to the tar sands then so be it. It along with much of the other Carbon economy is an outdated and dirty technology. The sooner we move on to a post carbon economy and way of life the better.

    • Exactly! Once the roads are filled with electric cars we won't need oil anymore, the electric cars be charged up from magical green coal powerplants!! Yaaaaay!!!

    • Was going to by a horse but found out that they're carbon emitters when not in use too. Who knew? Seriously, what's the plan for all the batteries that green cars are requiring? Landfills or Third world recycling?

    • There is no "post carbon way of life", without carbon everything on the planet dies. We breathe out carbon, plants breathe it in and give us oxygen. I know they dont teach that in school to our kids anymore but its true. The more carbon, the more oxygen, the better it is for us. All this propaganda about carbon being a pollutant is the biggest political lie ever carried out against the people. Carbon is NOT evil. We need if anything MORE CARBON, crops would grow better. When dinosaurs were around there was much more carbon and oxygen, thats why life thrived everywhere. How will giving the government power over all aspects of human life, breathing, travelling, heating and cooling and paying more taxes save the environment?

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