If you love Canada, do you also have to love Keystone XL? - Macleans.ca

If you love Canada, do you also have to love Keystone XL?

Thomas Mulcair goes to Washington and upsets Conservatives

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Thomas Mulcair has gone to Washington and criticized the Harper government’s environmental policies and questioned the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline and this has upset Brad Wall, Ed Fast, Joe Oliver, James Moore and Michelle Rempel.

The “national interest,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

Premier Wall and the Harper government (and the Saskatchewan NDP) believe Canada would be better off with the Keystone XL pipeline. Thus, championing the pipeline is speaking in the national interest. The NDP’s position on Keystone XL, conversely, seems to be that the oil would be better put to use in Canada and that there need to be better policies governing the environmental impacts of the oil sands. Along those lines, Mr. Mulcair would probably argue that he is speaking in the national interest.

So is Keystone XL in the national interest? Shawn McCarthy looks at Mr. Mulcair’s logic on job creation. And Clare Demerse looks at the Harper government’s environmental record. President Obama, meanwhile, allegedly thinks “the Canadians” are going to get rich.

As for how an opposition leader should speak when abroad, that’s also a tricky matter. When Mr. Harper went to Washington in 2005, he criticized the Liberal government for not spending enough on defence, peacekeeping and foreign aid, spoke with the President about the possibility of missile defence and, at a news conference, suggested the Liberals were associating with groups that had terrorist affiliations. He probably could have claimed to have been speaking in the national interest in each case.