What can we make of the PM’s performance on Keystone?

Paul Wells explains how Stephen Harper is mishandling the most important bilateral file

by Paul Wells

Sue Ogrocki/AP

The President of the United States laughs at Keystone XL job claims. From the transcript:

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.

Over at Politico Pro — where you get the really clever analyses — they found two top expert experts who said that when the President of the United States has a couple reporters over to giggle at the merits of a project, the project is a shoo-in. A third expert in the article, Charles Ebinger at Brookings, remains discouragingly literal-minded: he seems to think that when the President of the United States has a laugh about something, that means he’s not a fan.

“I’ve kind of done an about-face,” he said. “I think the president is very concerned about losing his environmental constituency going into the 2014 election season. I’m just not sure he’s really convinced we need [Keystone].”

The other two top expert experts remind me of some of the reaction in June, after Obama inserted a reference to Keystone and the “tar sands” into a global-warming speech that nobody was expecting to include a Keystone reference. Then too, some people took this as an encouraging sign. This is the Pépé Le Pew school of political analysis. Your lips, zay say non, but your eyes, zay say oui oui oui! 

Bruce Carson, who was Harper’s point man on resource exports and the environment before his dismissal from the PMO in 2011, sends out a daily digest of news analysis to a few Ottawa denizens. Here’s what he wrote this morning about the Obama NYT interview.

The President has been accused of a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. He knows the importance that Canada places on the approval of this project. He knows that the government has been waiting since before the last Presidential election for its approval. He knows what the energy situation is in North America and the US. He also knows the historically close relationship that Canada and the US have enjoyed over many decades. This is not how historically close neighbours treat one another, especially on a matter which is of vital economic importance to one of the neighbours. President Obama’s actions on Keystone and especially his deliberate interview on Saturday are not in keeping with the Canada-US historical relationship.

If the PM wants to save this project it is time for him to intervene and that means picking up the phone, have a frank conversation with the President, find out what needs to be done and then do it. That’s what leaders do. That’s what Prime Minister Mulroney did to land the FTA and the Acid Rain Treaty and it needs to be done now. When we are arguing about job numbers with the President of the United States, we are losing. When we are taking action on GHGs or pipeline safety or whatever it takes to land this project, we are winning. And goodness knows, Harper needs a win.

Carson’s advice is no longer sought by the prime minister, and it kind of shows. Since Obama’s big clanging yellow light of a speech, Harper has responded by putting the quietest wee mouse in cabinet, Leona Aglukkaq, in the environment post and then kicking her off the cabinet committee on the economy, on which her predecessor sat. That committee used to be called the “Committee on Economic Prosperity and Sustainable Growth.” Now it’s called the “Committee on Economic Prosperity.” See what they did there? Let me break this to you gently: they noticed at the U.S. Embassy.

Speaking of embassies, Canada’s man in Washington, Gary Doer, responded forcefully to Obama’s interview by… giving an interview to the CBC. That’ll change minds in Washington.

As colleague Erica Alini has noted, Obama is stopping short of a firm “no” on Keystone, but he is plainly no fan and he plainly thinks, because he keeps saying it, that “Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.” And how is the Prime Minister responding, on the most important bilateral file there is? He is digging Canada deeper, by the only criterion set and publicly repeated by the only man who can make this decision.

I do not believe Harper is this oblivious. I am trying to figure out how his behaviour makes sense, and honestly I can find only three possible answers:

1. He is wildly misreading the plain evidence of Obama’s repeated public statements on Keystone.

2. Or he has decided Obama cannot be persuaded of Keystone’s merit so there is no point trying. This would help explain why Sun News, heavily subsidized with government ads, feels it is at liberty to cover Obama like this.

3. Or he has decided to take the loss on Keystone, preferring to run on wounded pride rather than policy success in 2015. That sounds a little loopy, but I’m not ready to reject it. Arguably Harper has won more votes by carrying Canada’s rejection from the United Nations Security Council as a badge of honour than he would have won by merely succeeding. Spite sells.

In the old days, of course, Harper used to declare that what he couldn’t sell to the Americans he would simply sell to China. “I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent,” he said in 2011, after the first (of many!) Obama Keystone snub. How serious? Here are his 2013 speeches. See if you can find one that mentions China.




Browse

What can we make of the PM’s performance on Keystone?

  1. Thank god greener heads prevailed. Keystone is a nightmare for the climate, and with the new EPA chief, it’s likely doomed.

    Much wiser to follow BC’s example: http://t.co/07509eq0pD

    • Yes, we should follow BC’s example and ramp our mining of coal and ship more millions of tons out to Asia. What an excellent idea. Then we can be just like Obama who is signing fracking deals like crazy and shipping ever more coal to Asia. We can be environmental hero’s at home and help others continue to emit huge amounts of carbon from afar. How great is that? Meanwhile, maybe we can point fingers at others and laugh.

      • Why can’t everyone be just like Alberta.

        • Oh but that’s the rub. You are just like Alberta. You just pretend you aren’t. Your premier is ready to okay the Gateway pipeline as long as she gets a big enough cut of the money. You mine coal and ship it to Asia like there is no tomorrow. You have pipelines crossing our province and you pretend you’re environmentalists but as soon as the money is right you drop the act. In Alberta, we don’t have your pretentious attitude so you treat us with disdain, while all the while acting no differently than we do.

          • In Harper’s earlier days in politics, he was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. He had hired Wolfgang Droege and his Heritage Front as, security for Preston Manning.

            Harper had also tried to have Alberta, to separate from the rest of Canada.

            People of BC are very familiar with, Harper and the BC Liberals. The BC Liberals are, Harper’s satellite party.

          • You know, there are so many legitimate criticisms of Harper it makes me think you don’t have an ounce of intelligence when you have to resort to making up lies about him.

          • Making up lies – nothing you’re familiar with.

          • OK, so you’re defending his lies? Why do all Liberals think that lying is some type of desired character trait?

          • Like shooting fish in a barrel…

          • Who said I was a Liberal, you ditz? Still want some links?

          • You either agree with Rick Omen or you’re a Liberal – there are only two options.

          • You are absolutely brain dead and know absolutely nothing, what-so-ever. Would you like some links?

          • 18ditch – you’re just incorrect that Harper tried to have AB separate from the rest of Cda if you’re referring to the famous “firewall” letter. I’m not defending his current policies, but it’s sad when people post such rubbish. The “firewall” whether one agreed with it or not was about establishing a more independent place in Cda for AB, not leaving Cda. (I’ve read the letter unlike most that comment on it.) In fact it didn’t ask for much that Quebec didn’t already have at the time. What is virtually never, never, never, discussed is the context at the time and the actions of the Federal gov’t at the time. The letter was as much a reaction to frustration as it was anything else. If the letter had been written by Quebec nationalists it would still be celebrated. Unfortunately it was only written by some Albertans.

          • Harper did want to build a firewall around Alberta. I am just really sorry he didn’t have Alberta separate. To have Alberta free from Canada? Harper did have to have Alberta separate. Harper has nothing to say about Quebec separating, did he? Harper was reminded about Alberta too. If a province wants to be independent? What do they have to do? Hold the country at ransom, just as Quebec did, or what? Quite frankly, I don’t blame any province, wanting to get out of Harper’s Canada. That’s better than, being handed over to Communist China, is it not?This country isn’t Canada anymore anyhow. Harper has seen to that!!!

          • Please wipe the foam from your mouth, it’s distracting.

          • Did you mean to address that to Rick Omen?

        • Just to be clear I was being sarcastic – judging by some of the thumbs up it’s wasn’t obvious to everyone.

      • Not only that. Harper’s Omnibus Bill gives China permission to sue Canada if, anyone tries to block China’s huge inroads into our country.China sued and took, the 200 BC mining jobs from BC miners. Chinese miners earn, $800 per month. There are 18 mine permits on Vancouver Island. There are nine mines and mine expansions, going into Northern BC. There is no doubt just who, Harper will give those jobs to either.

        The Keystone remains to be seen. Obama has been very chilly towards Harper. Actually there are also other countries, that are very chilly towards Harper.

        • Hey, don’t kid yourself. Provinces get the money from their natural resources. If BC is replacing their own people with foreign workers who are making much less money, the provincial government is getting a bigger payday. That is how it works. When people are talking about this Cold Lake oil spill that is under the auspice of the Province of Alberta. It has nothing to do with the feds. Allison Redford, the Premier of Alberta needs to get it together with stepping down on these oil companies that are doing shoddy work. The BC premier knows exactly what is happening in her province and she is all for it. She is even okay with the Gateway pipeline if she gets a big cut of the money. Further, the BC people knowing that just gave her another big mandate.

          • Wonder why Christy Clark complained about not getting enough money? The cut for BC, is totally asinine, it’s practically non-existent. Mind you, we all know Christy lies like hell. The tar sands does nothing for the people of BC, what-so-ever. People are even dumb enough to think, they can get jobs on the Enbridge. It was known Christy Clark was in favor of the Enbridge pipeline, right from day one. She works for Harper as did, Gordon Campbell before her. We also know Christy lied because, she is giving $16 billion of BC peoples tax dollars, towards an oil refinery near Kitimat Port. And just how, is that oil going to get to the refinery? Christy is a total ditz and a blatant liar, just as Harper is. Her economic action and her job action plan is non-existent, exactly like Harper’s is. Christy said, there would be 76,000 jobs in BC. There isn’t even six resource jobs. Christy supported Harper, on his giving the 200 BC mine jobs to Communist China.

            So because Alberta has the oil spills, means oil won’t spill from the pipelines in BC, or what? Oil spills anywhere in this country, are very bad news. Doesn’t matter a damn, if the oil is leaking in Alberta.

            Harper, Redford and Christy will likely have to bring over, their entire Red China army, to get the Enbridge into BC.

          • The people of BC just re-elected Christy with an overwhelming show of support. I don’t think they are as against her plans as you might claim.

          • Christy Clark out and out blatantly lied to be re-elected. Just as Gordon Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his elections too. Just as Harper did also. it must have escaped you? The BC Liberals work for Harper. This country is a, cesspool of corruption. BC is the most corrupt province in Canada. The BC Liberals are, Harper’s satellite party. The very first thing ditzy Christy did was, to give a big fat salary increase. Campbell had given his useless self a, $60,000 per year salary hike. How much of a raise should Christy give? Perhaps you can help her on that one? After all, Christy said, she has a balanced budget.

          • Are you saying that the people of BC are stupid? I don’t buy it. Everyone knows that the biggest predictor of future behavior is past behavior and they were fully aware of Christy Clark’s past behavior when they re-elected her to office as premier. A leopard doesn’t change its spots. They were thrilled when Ms. Clark and Ms. Redford got into a “cat fight” over oil money related to the Gateway pipeline. It has never been about the environment for the citizens of BC. It has always been about sticking it to Alberta. Never mind that BC has pipelines that run through Alberta and there have never been premiums paid for the products that flow through them. Neither do they pay for their logging trucks that use Alberta highways, etc.
            As for corruption. If you have done any reading, you will see it is rampant in many Canadian provinces and that despite this being common knowledge, Canadian citizens continue to vote for crooks. One of the most telling episodes in our history perhaps is the story of William Hawrelak who was the mayor of Edmonton in the 1960′s. While mayor, he was sent to jail for a dirty land deal. They re-elected him mayor many years later even though he was a convicted criminal. He died in office and they named one of the nicest parks in the city after him. Here in Canada, we love our corrupt officials even if we do complain mightily.

          • If you think the BC Liberals or Harper gives a damn about the environment, guess again. Christy denounced the Enbridge pipeline, to gain votes, She knew BC people are dead set against the Enbridge pipeline. So now? She is going to build a refinery? Of course she will agree with Redford and Harper. Ex BC Liberal Premier Grdon Campbell and Harper signed sneak deals regarding the Enbridge, right behind the people of BC’s backs. Same as Christy’s election lie of, 76,000 jobs. Go over and read, Grant G’s straightgoods web page. he exposed Christy Clark’s out and out blatant lies on the LNG. 76,000 jobs my @$$.

            Christy Clark even hired one of Harper’s henchmen, Boessenkool to work for her. He was forced to resign because of, some misconduct while drunk.

            We are all used to corrupt Politicians, there isn’t any that aren’t corrupt. When it comes to being a traitor to Canada, that’s another total issue. Harper has even been called, Treason Steven.

          • Gwyn Morgan helped her get the leadership. Also Preston Manning, They have their stooge.

          • Okay but somebody voted her in so she has a lot of supporters and this didn’t happen years ago either. Her mandate is fresh.

          • So Redford must have the same overwhelming support of voters. Funny, there seems to be a lot of criticism of her.

          • Yes, they supported her overwhelmingly at the voters booth despite knowing the crooked reputation of her government. Not much point in complaining after the fact that you got exactly what you voted for.

          • That is similar to how a lot of B.C. voters feel about Ms. Clark.

      • Right you are. I doubt this bunch ever does go over to those web sites.

  2. He wants it to drop off the radar screen because he’s tired of seeing that same picture of stacked pipe, everywhere, over and over.

    Get the photographer to take an end on shot – I bet there’s a few protesters living inside a number of sections by now.

  3. There’s an oil spill running through a forest and river in Alberta….from underground tar sands wells…and it’s been going on for over two months. Nobody appears to know how to stop it.

    In the meantime we are now reduced to parsing the president’s CHUCKLE for meaning.

    The word ‘foreshadowing’ springs to mind.

    • If his hands were tented at the time of the chuckle, well, it means something diabolical.

      (h/t Brett Leroy @Corner Gas)

      • Well he can’t twirl a moustache I guess. Heh.

        • Joe Oliver can grow one. Then he can play Oilcan Harry.

          • Ha…more in keeping, anyway.

    • I read the same Emily. Cold Lake is a military base and, the leak is on their firing range. However with Dictator Harper, greed trumps common sense every time. Harper has turned Canada into a, cesspool of corruption.

      It didn’t help Harper when he insulted, angered and threatened Obama. Harper told Obama, if he didn’t make up his mind on the Keystone, he would give all of the tar oil to China. And, China is already laughing all the way to the bank, on Harper’s stupidity.

      The U.S. and China detest each other. There are other counties who frown on, Harper bringing Communist China into Canada and all of the resources, for 31 years.

      Everyone I know, signed the petition against, Harper’s FIPA deal with China.

      • Didn’t realize it was there…..I’ve been on the Cold Lake firing range.

        Harper has insulted and angered a lot of people….including the Chinese, so he’s not doing Canada any good.

        However, China isn’t conmmunist and we definitely need a trade deal with them….as well as with India and the EU.

        • China is a Communist country, they are a shining example of Communism. There are no Human Rights in China, what-so-ever. The everyday Chinese people, work for the state. What do you call, Chinese Police opening up gunfire on protesting students?

          No-one minds trade with China. However, Harper’s FIPA deal with China means, China will be in Canada for, a minimum of 31 years. China is also buying up our Canadian farmland. There will be literally thousands of Chinese over here, to work our resources for 31 years. Much of China’s farmland is polluted as well as, 40% of their water. Dead pigs come floating down China’s rivers. China will need our food crops to feed themselves.

          Chinese resource workers earn, $800 per month. Good for you if you can live on Chinese wages, most Canadians can’t. $800 in this country, doesn’t even pay the rent.

          I think you should read about? China’s blood diamonds.

          Harper insulted some European countries, they detest Harper. Whether they relent and trade with Harper, remains to be seen.

          Now the Cons are after Harper to send, some of the senior Ministers to Europe, to do damage control. The Con Ministers were very afraid Harper would screw-up, and he did.

          • No, they aren’t communist, and haven’t been for a very long time.

            Communism is an economic system and has nothing to do with human rights. China has also been a civilization for 5000 years….waaaay longer than us. And we needn’t talk considering our FN reserves.

            What do I call police firing on protesting students? Kent state.

            And we have pollution in NA as well. The Cuyahoga river has caught fire 13 times

            Yes, we’ll have lots of Chinese here….we have lots of people here from all over the world. The Alberta tar sands has been featured in National Geographic

            So let’s not get all self-righteous here.

            Canada has 24 FIPAs….and none of them are doing us any harm, so relax.

          • Sorry. China’s ideology is still Communist. How about, 2,500 more Chinese miners to BC? How about Harper bringing China into the rich resources of the High Arctic. What about China taking the timber and mines on Vancouver Island?

            How about Chinese child labor, they only earn pennies a day? How about Chinese going to an apple factory for work? They have to sign a document, they won’t commit suicide. Would you like those working conditions in Canada?

            You are amazingly ignorant. Perhaps you should read of, China’s blood diamonds.

            You should also be, very careful for what you wish for.

          • Sorry it’s not. Hasn’t been in years.

            Do you even know what a FIPA is?

            Not by the sound of it.

            I deal with the Chinese on a daily basis….so kindly don’t do your Maudie Barlow {{{‘we’re all gonna die’}}} routine with me.

          • Oh for gawds sake, bugger-off. You are far too stupid for words.

          • In other words you haven’t a clue…you’re just into partisan blathering.

            And racism.

          • No twit. I have had a Chinese Canadian family as friends and neighbors. Why in the hell do you think the Chinese came over here you utter dunce? They come to get away from their rotten government. They are the last people that want, Communist China in this country. We have always deplored China’s Human Rights for their people. China is a very wealthy country and,.that’s how they treat their people? Wake the hell up. China is on the hot seat AGAIN. They have just been caught, ripping the people off for their wages, AGAIN. Every country China gets into, that country and the people are cheated. Only an idiot would want a country such as China, setting up shop on our Canadian soil. Wonder why, other countries kick China out of their territories? Not even another Communist country, would be stupid enough to give themselves to Communist China.

          • Oh riiiight….yer the guy with the Chinese neighbours from years ago, and you base your entire world view on them. LOL

            Well like I said Canada has been doing FIPAs since the 70s….and we have 24 of them now….lots more to come….so give your head a shake and stop being racist, You are, in fact, disgusting.

          • Do you work at being that obtuse or, does it just come naturally to you?

            There was no g.d. FIPA deal for China to be in Canada for 31 years. Don’t try to play that crap on me. You obviously didn’t know this was brought up in Parliament did you, you dumb twit. Now get lost I have no time for stupid idiots like you.

            From now on, you are on ignore.

          • Cute….but no cigar.

            You haven’t any idea about FIPAs….you’re just being racist and ignorant.

            I hope that’s a promise that you won’t talk to me again?

          • “Harper insulted some European countries, they detest Harper.”
            Get real. Most Europeans couldn’t pick Harper out of a police line-up.

  4. Harper isn’t a deal-maker. He hasn’t got that in his blood. Harper is an all-or-nothing, my way or the highway type. That’s why he can’t get anything done in Washington. In Washington, everything is a deal with trade-offs. It’s why the Northern Gateway projects failed so spectacularly in BC. It’s why federal-provincial relations have essentially evaporated. Harper is actually lousy at getting things done unless he can rule by fiat.

    • I’m not sure your point about fed-prov relations is totally correct. Looking at the last premiers’ meeting you see the typical gang-up on the feds and do nothing on areas where the Premiers could actually make something happen. Harper has long viewed these as a waste of time, and he has a point.

      Your main point about Harper not being a deal maker is a good one. Mulroney was the stereotypical deal maker and would like have gotten the pipeline and Euro trade deal by now. However, if these forums existed back then Mulroney would have been at least as unpopular in them as Harper is now.

      • BC can’t be included. The BC Liberals work for Harper, not for the people of BC.

        • Come on… If the BC gov’t rolled over for Harper as you say there would have been no opposition from the BC gov’t to NG…jeez…

          • What NG? do you mean Christy Clark’s LNG and 76,000 jobs? Good gawd, that was an election lie. That was exposed as a blatant lie. No doubt you think Christy has a signed deal from Asia? Go check out the straightgoods web site.

            Jeeez. We all knew this was a blatant lie from Christy, to be re-elected.

            CSIS even warned of China’s huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned because, Gordon Campbell had already given much of BC to Communist China. Harper’s sell out of Canada to China began, way back in Gordon Campbell’s reign of terror. Harper rewarded Campbell the post of, High Commissioner to the U.K. for doing Harper’s dirty work for him. Campbell thieved and sold everything out of BC, he got his dirty hands on.

            Harper is no Conservative. The BC Liberals work for Harper. We have a very good idea what, that motley outfit really is. We even call them, sweethearts.

          • NG – Northern Gateway. Glad to see you’re as sharp as usual. In siiimmmpppllleee speak it could have read, “If the BC gov’t rolled over for Harper as you say there would have been no opposition from the BC gov’t to Northern Gateway.”

      • Do you think those deals involved cash & paper bags?

    • Harper is a, one man dictatorship show. No-one is permitted to have an opinion. Harper controls the BC Liberals, always has. This is no different than how Harper’s team feel as, Harper’s trained Seals. Now Harper’s trained Seals are trying to have Harper send some senior Ministers to Europe, for damage control. They knew in the first place, Harper would fail. The Ministers should have put their foot down, and sent someone who knows how, to get along with others. It’s their own fault. At every meetings of Nations, Harper always manages to anger and insult every countries leaders attending.

  5. As long as the price of oil doesn’t drop significantly market conditions will continue to make rail transport economically viable. The Keystone pipeline debate really comes down to whether you prefer oil to be transported by pipeline or by rail, and no one can argue that rail transport is safer.

    • Rail transport is safer.

      • You would say that, wouldn’t you?

        • I did. It’s in my contract.

  6. Kind of insulting to Leona Aglukkaq that Harper kicked her off the cabinet committee on the economy just after making her the Environment Minister. Why bother giving her the Environment file if he’s going to humiliate her like that?

    • Dictators really don’t care about their citizens. Harper cares about Harper and his own selfish goals and to hell with the people. Leona Aglukkaq must be on Harper’s enemy list.

      There are Canadians dumb enough to think, there are jobs for them building the Keystone. When Premier Redford visited the U.S. she promised to hire American War Vets, to build the Keystone on both sides of the border. She also said, she would bring American oil workers to work the tar sands.

    • It’s traditional – he’s humiliated every Environment Minister.

    • Well, I see this is turning into the CBC forum. Name calling about the PM if you dislike him, about JT or TM if you don’t like them. A point here is that she willingly took the job despite the removal from the cabinet committee. Also, anyone that’s followed politics in this country will know that the Env Minister wasn’t exactly inner circle under Chretien either. This country under multiple gov’ts have seen the Env Minister post as a secondary position. However, I guess name calling is easier.

      • Is that why Canadians are called eco-terrorists. How about, Canadians with the pedophiles? If you are into name calling? Head over to the NP. There people are, Libtards, Commies and all sorts of vulgar name calling, goes on over there.

        I have no idea this is a CBC forum? I have watched CBC and, they are the only station that has Politicians from every party on, for debates. To me that makes it interesting. You get to hear all sides from Politicians. I have seen CBC report, on both sides of the spectrum. Perhaps, you should go over to the Sun. You will like the Sun, perfect for you.

  7. We are being black mailed by Obama and Maclean’s blames Harper. Not surprised.

    • Um….a potential customer wanting a better deal is not ‘blackmail’. I thought you guys were big on capitalism?!

  8. Leading with the claim Politico is reliable makes this piece unrealiable.

    • Think you should read more closely rather than react. Paul gives a variety of sources and viewpoints and even Politico has differing views.

      • Ok

      • From Politico “Concessions by Canada could include an effort to capture and store the carbon dioxide generated by drilling in the oil sands, former White House environmental aide Elliot Diringer said Monday.” Canada conservatives are wasting how much a year in tax dollars to defy gravity by storing CO2 underground? Since they deny man made climate change and evolution I guess we should expect them to deny gravity.

    • Glad we’ve established that when I stick my tongue so far into my cheek that it comes out the other side, there’ll still be somebody who’ll miss the joke. I guess using the phrase “top expert experts” twice was too subtle.

      • Maybe you should use some sort of flashing emoticon…

      • My cognitive dissidence trumped my sarcasm detector. I reacted with out taking a bit of extra effort needed for reasoned thought. I’ll try to avoid doing it when I read what you write. I can only try. I loved your comment on Sun’s tax payer funding.

  9. Bruce Carson ! Bruce Carson ! He lives !!

  10. My money is on option 2.

    Really, how hard does this need to be “sold”? Economically it’s a slam dunk that Lebron James would be proud of. The only people against this are the environmentalists who are always against this stuff. The economic argument is made, and Harper isn’t going to try to go toe to toe on ideology with Obama.

    • The pipeline should be built. From the US perspective, I could see them using it as leverage to get Canada to put in place a carbon pricing regime. To flat out block it makes little sense.

  11. Frank Herbert answered the question a long time ago.

    “The spice must flow.” “The spice will flow.”

    Perhaps not in the way we think. We no Keystone XL, Canada may be able to create a new export-focused refining industry in BC and Montreal/NB, creating 1000′s of high-paying high-skilled refinery jobs. The “spice” will move by rail. Maybe a pipeline will be build down the MacKenzie Valley to export from the Arctic, allowing the NWT to free their land-locked oil. Maybe a pipeline via NWT and the Yukon to hook up with Alyeska in Alaska.

    Slowing the pace of oilsands development actually benefits Alberta in a lot of ways.

    I still think Obama approves Keystone XL. Keystone will lower gasoline prices in blue states (although it may raise them a bit in red states).

    • You’re an economist. Explain in little words how a globally fungible commodity drops locally in price because of a small uptick in supply. Is Keystone oil a discount oil? Will we sell it through President’s Choice?

  12. He may not be that oblivious, but he certainly can be that pigheaded. He’s definitely not one to be the bigger man and pick up the phone.

    He really strikes me as a man who hasn’t grown up since he was a sullen, insecure teenager.

    • He probably tortures kittens too.

      • Well there is a secret dungeon under Langevin for those who have a radical ideological agenda and use funds from foreign special interests to undermine Canada.

        • Just wait till Harper is removed from office. Then the mass graves will be uncovered.

  13. Harper Government attacks Suzuki Foundation, PMO allows Sun News personal character attacks on Suzuki to pound away month by month. Suzuki good pal of Gore, Gore real good pal of Kerry, Kerry in charge of file and right in Obama’s ear. Gary Doer launches attack on the intellectual integrity of The President of the United States of America.

    Then there was Joe “Mr Diplomat” Oliver on environmentalists:

    “These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”

    • Actually. Harper undermined himself. No-one trusts Harper, no-one believes Harper, not even other countries do. Other countries don’t like Oliver either, nor Baird.

      Oliver is just another of Harper’s henchmen, he too is a name caller just as Harper is. What happened to Oliver and Harper’s RCMP eco-terrorist squads?

      • Yes, everybody everywhere hates all Conservative’s. Got it.

        • No. Only some provinces detest Harper. He certainly knows which provinces they are.

          • Isn’t it interesting how every single person in each province has the same political views? So that, for instance, every single person in Alberta is a Harper-loving Conservative, while conversely, every single person in Quebe is a Harper-hating Pequiste?

        • Wondering who I’m supposed to hate in Alberta: Redford or Smith or sigh! both?

          • You don’t have to worry about being on Harper’s enemy list, do you? Most people in this neck of the woods want to find out how to make it onto, Harper’s enemy list.

          • You better go hide under your bed then, because Harper’s secret police goons are coming to get you. Be very very afraid.

        • Don’t worry, you are not on one of the Conservatives’ Enemy Lists.

          • Yes, I believe you have to be considered important in order to get on.

          • He should be in the Harper Hall of Fame.

  14. If everything was rosy and safe, and Canadians are to be expected to BELIEVE every positive outcome from this pipeline project, here is a simple solution that should satisfy everyone.
    PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!

    As the Lac Megantic tragedy shows, seems responsibility for paying for clean up costs, compensating victims etc will NOT come from the company responsible, instead taxpayers will be forced to pay.

    So perhaps Keystone should be forced to put $500 million per year in trust, repayable after the pipeline has been decommisioned. Since there is also a HUGE disparity between the number of jobs promised, if it gets the OK, then it is expected to pay a penalty of say $50k for each worker if it doesn’t reach the 50,000 jobs promised.

    There should be no issues with these proposals because the pipelines are safe, and the Harper Gov has been touting the 50,000 jobs this project has been promised to create..

    If everything has been a lie, I doubt if this would be reasonable to consider, but if everything has been true then Keystone should have no problems fulfilling this social contract? NO?

    • Brilliant idea, fining companies for not “creating jobs”. Do you even have the most basic understanding of how a company works?

      • Sure do, and I KNOW how the Harper government works too. Giving Companies big tax breaks with expectations that they use the “breaks” to create jobs, which have failed to materialize. Spend TAXPAYER money LOBBYING for this pipeline, because of the “promise” of all the jobs that Keystone and Harper Gov have said will result. So, If Harper and Keystone want to get this approved based on lies, then there should be a penalty for lying to people. If they ain’t lying there will be no fine, if they are… that is $50k per year by the way, for each job promised but not given!

        • When Premier Redford visited the U.S. She had promised to hire American war Vets to build the pipeline, on both sides of the border. She also said, she would hire American oil workers to, also work the tar sands.

          Harper economic plan and job action plans, have never made it off the Hockey Night in Canada billboard. That is a huge waste of our tax dollars for jobs, that don’t even exist.

          Christy Clark did the same to BC tax payers. She campaigned on 76,000 jobs. There are no jobs. people are attending those job fairs, however they apply for jobs that aren’t even there. The BC Liberals work for Harper. We can see Christy’s government is, exactly the same as Harper’s. All lies and spin.

  15. Despite Keystone delays, TransCanada has been busy expanding existing networks and removing bottlenecks to the tune of an additional million barrels a day into the US. Perhaps Keystone isn’t as big a deal in the grand scheme of things as some think.

    • The Keystone isn’t a big deal for the U.S. They have their own huge oil fields, they can rival Saudi for oil sales. Perhaps, Obama will develop their own oil fields. The tar sands oil, was for resale on Obama’s part anyway.

  16. Google Rossi E-Cat, Defkalion Green Technology, Hyperion. LENR. You, too, will learn the probable cause for Obama’s reluctance to embrace KXL.

  17. So just to recap. Our government comes to power and decides to basically stay in lock step with American environmental policy so that our respective industries are on a level playing field with each other.
    When American is talking Cap and Trade, we’re talking Cap and Trade. When America switched to a sector by sector regulatory approach, we copy and pasted their regulations (such as they are).
    And at the end of the day the United States thinks we aren’t doing enough in terms of reducing our GHG emissions.
    I’m not sure if I should find this ironic, humorous or infuriating.

    • How about, all of the above? Have you ever read? Harper gives a speech in New York at, the Council of Foreign Relations. This was Sept 25/2007

  18. Another possibility is that Obama has already privately told Harper that Keystone XL will be approved but has to say a few anti-Keystone XL things in order to prepare his US supporters for the shock of disappointment and has asked Harper to not make a big deal about it while Obama says the things he feels he has to say. Nothing in Harpers demeanour or body language suggests he is panicking about a Keystone XL denial.

  19. I’ll add a 4th one that’s admittedly out in left field. Harper actually wants Trudeau to win in 15 ( if he can’t and the other alternative is Mulcair) JT is for keystone, all he needs to do now is stop equivocating on a carbon tax.
    Honestly, the guy is baffling(Harper ) Sometimes I think he makes policy on where his mood is at that particular point in time. I’ll pick the third door then in that case.

  20. “I do not believe Harper is this oblivious. I am trying to figure out how his behaviour makes sense …”

    My guess is as good as anybody else’s so I’ll venture a guess at what the PM must be thinking: that Obama is a fracking hypocrite, with his preachy pronouncements on the environment, while his country continues to be one of the largest spewers of GHG emissions, second only to China, not because of any virtue but because the country that once led the world is in a spiral of bankruptcy, not only economic but also moral.

    However, the reality is that because the US is our important trading partner, the PM has to put on a poker face & swallow the hypocrite’s criticism without the called for, if vulgar, reply: STFU, Bo.

  21. Harper has been pushing the projects to get the oil to the west coast. That’s the right approach.

  22. Harpo is a street corner punk to most of the world, except to a handful foreign overLords that absolute giggle with delight at Harpo. The street corner punk regime alienated many with its frivolous big-mouthery ( Harpo’s hard core base are easily impressed ) Harpo meddled in the US elections. Now Harpo is paying for his street corner punk behaviour. Sweat, Harpo, sweat.

    • Story is about Obama Hater

  23. The answer is quite simple…Harper is in over his head! He has been running such a bad government that at times has been rogue, that now that he is unable to run a paper route.

  24. You mean “Canada’s advice is no longer sought by the President”?

  25. Carson the Con was Harper’spoint man on this. No wonder Con credibility is down the tubes.

  26. Just wait until the next president then. Hopefully then, saner heads will be able to prevail. No point in trying to appease this president who would doom the entire economy if he had the power to.

  27. OK, now that the snipping etc has settled down, I would like to say I quite enjoyed this column. Well done, Paul. It gave me something to reflect on.

    It’s a live and learn world. However, I’m often concerned that the current PM (much like Chrétien) has a set MO that excludes reflection and personal adjustment. It was the eventual undoing of Jean after a pretty good run. It may be the undoing of Stephen after a pretty good run. Thanks for the column.

  28. On the way back from Tobin Lake this weekend, passed a US train pulling crude cars south. The oil will move, whether it is a conventional pipeline, or a segmented pipeline pulled by locomotive down track, or segmented pipeline pulled down the road by truck. It really is that simple. Pick the safest option if you are smart, or do whatever ignorance dictates, your choice.

    • This was Ambassador’s Doer latest tact – this crap is coming your way whether you like it nor so you might as well accept the supposedly least worst option. I just don’t think, in the history of persuasion, this is a winning approach.

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