The Commons: Keystone XL and Peter Penashue are both great

Stephen Harper champions a pipeline and the former MP for Labrador


Thomas Mulcair wanted to talk about tax havens and about how Kevin Page had been blocked from studying the issue and how the Canada Revenue Agency has apparently identified more than 8,000 “offshore tax cheats” (to use Mr. Mulcair’s phrasing). The Prime Minister wanted to talk about what a terrible thing Mr. Mulcair had done.

“I am rather surprised to be getting a question like this on the economy from the leader of the opposition after he travelled to Washington to fight against Canadian jobs,” Mr. Harper pleaded with a shrug and a shake of the head after offering a perfunctory sentence in response to the actual question asked.

“Shame!” called a voice from the Conservative side.

“The NDP can oppose Canadian jobs,” Mr. Harper concluded, “but on this side we are for Canadian jobs.”

The Conservatives stood to applaud their man’s clarification.

Mr. Mulcair ad-libbed a retort. ” Mr. Speaker, his project includes the export of 40,000 Canadian value-added jobs,” he declared, proceeding then to jab his finger toward the ground. “We will keep standing up for Canada.”

The New Democrats stood to applaud.

So we are split on the precise value to Canada of the Keystone XL pipeline—one of these men is categorically in favour, the other has his concerns; about half of the country sides with the former, a little less than that sides with the latter. Perhaps cap-and-trade, which both of these men have supported at one time or another and which the American president also happens to prefer, truly is the reasonable solution to this concern. If only Republicans didn’t control the House of Representatives and Mr. Harper hadn’t decided that what he once supported was the same as what he once opposed.

Instead, we come to what seems a defining fight for these two men.

Mr. Mulcair, now en francais, returned to his concerns about tax evasion. According to the main estimates, he noted, the budget of the Canada Revenue Agency was due to be cut by $100 million. Mr. Harper, in response, managed two sentences in French, before switching back to English, his preferred language for haranguing.

“It is very interesting,” Mr. Harper observed. “If the Liberal…”

Mr. Mulcair laughed at the Prime Minister’s stumble.

“If the leader of the NDP were so proud of the position he had taken,” Mr. Harper continued, “I wonder why we had to find out what he really said from leaks out of private meetings.”

This was apparently reference to Nancy Pelosi’s saying something that Mr. Mulcair is said to have not said himself.

“The fact is,” Mr. Harper now lectured, wagging his finger, “when we go to Washington or around the world, we promote Canadian jobs and we do it upfront and in the open.”

The Conservatives stood to applaud.

M. Mulcair proceeded, en francais, to hector the government side about the deficit and mortgages and job training. Mr. Harper offered two sentences en francais and then once more returned to English.

“Once again, this is a serious issue, “Mr. Harper declared. “We have created 950,000 jobs in Canada. What we understand in this country on this side of the House and what the leader of the NDP fails to understand is that trade with the United States is critical to creating jobs on both sides of the border. That is why we are for NAFTA, for trade and for job creation on this side of the House, unlike the NDP.”

He pumped a Clintonian fist and once more various Conservatives stood to cheer.

Here Mr. Mulcair stood and turned to face Mr. Harper directly. “Mr. Speaker,” he declared, pumping his own fist, “adding jobs by creating a sustainable economy is the future of our country.”

Now he stared the Prime Minister down and pumped his fist and pointed and wagged and lectured and leaned in and raised his voice. “If we do not learn how to add value to our natural resources here instead of shipping our jobs to the U.S., we will not get out of the mess they have created. There are 300,000 more unemployed today than when the crisis hit in 2008,” Mr. Mulcair ventured. “That’s the fact.”

Across the way, Mr. Harper smirked. The New Democrats cheered. And, as a result, Mr. Mulcair’s time expired before he could actually phrase a question.

Mr. Harper now presented his version of the facts. “Mr. Speaker, the manufacturers and exporters of this country say that the tax policies of the NDP alone would kill 200,000 jobs in that sector. The leader of the NDP’s view that our resource sectors are a disease upon the economy would kill millions more,” the Prime Minister testified, chopping his hand and pointing his finger.  “We have 950,000 new jobs created since the end of the recession. It is one of the best records in the world and Canadians will never sacrifice that to the extremism and ideology of the NDP.”

The Conservatives were delighted and cried out their joy. But Mr. Mulcair still had a question to ask. Actually, he had three.

“Mr. Speaker, Peter Penashue has finally resigned after breaking the law. The Prime Minister has to answer a simple question. If Penashue did nothing wrong, why did he resign? If he did something wrong, why is the Prime Minister allowing him to run again?” the NDP leader wondered aloud. “Will the Prime Minister commit right now to allow Elections Canada to conclude its investigation before calling the byelection in Labrador or is it that he is afraid of what illegal activities might come to light?”

Mr. Mulcair crooked his head to the right and stared down the Prime Minister as he stated his last query.

Mr. Harper offered that “Minister Penashue” (old job titles being hard to forget) had “done the right thing under difficult circumstances” (the acceptance of illegal donations now apparently qualifying as a hardship).

“He is prepared to take his record and be accountable to the people of Labrador, everything from defending the seal hunt to promoting the Lower Churchill project,” the Prime Minister explained.

Indeed, Mr. Penashue would seem to be altogether more than merely re-electable.

“This,” the Prime Minister declared, “is the best member of Parliament Labrador has ever had.”

If an MP who resigned amid election violations less than two years after being elected is the best MP that Labrador has ever had, then Labrador’s 64 years in the country would seem to have been rather underwhelming. Perhaps as recompense, we could offer to route Keystone through Goose Bay.


The Commons: Keystone XL and Peter Penashue are both great

  1. Mulcair is completely lost. “Exporting jobs” is such an easy to discredit lie, I’m amazed that he’s sticking with it. I mean, you’d have to be pretty stupid to believe that a project that creates jobs in Canada and in the US is “exporting” jobs. Would Mulcair insist that KXL be built exclusively by Canadians? Would the refineries that will be getting our bitumen have to be staffed by Canadians? I understand that there’s some spin to be expected out of political messaging, but this is just plain dumb.

    • I’m not saying i agree with the ndp line on export of jobs entirely. But is it really possible that you actually don’t understand what Mulcair is getting at?… I think it is.

      I’m hesitant to ask just how you propose to easily discredit this lie, since you evidently don’t even understand it.

      • When KXL is built, how many Canadian jobs will be lost? Zero? If Zero jobs are lost, how are we “exporting jobs”? It’s not rocket science.

        • Ever heard of the concept of opportunity cost? That is what Mulcair is talking about…as i understand him anyway.

        • If KXL is built, rules of NAFTA will never give precedence to shipping refined bitumen to the US over raw bitumen if we ever decide to build refineries in this country that would create countless jobs (I don’t place a # because the estimates used are for skilled jobs, does not account for every other job that comes along with it, essentially much higher than the proclaimed gain from the pipeline alone).
          The Conservatives are not thinking like a government with the responsibilities of a Federal Nation, they are acting like an industry, and should be focused on national sustainability not temporary bottom line. Typical and continual mistakes from Harper Inc.
          As for a personal note: no, it’s not rocket science, it is administrative competence, something the Conservative government as never had.

    • I can’t understand why conservative (small c) leaning people can’t understand the basics of dirty oil. Not only is it more costly to extract, it is also more polluting in the process. Then when it is refined (which is also more polluting than refining other forms of oil) it continues to pollute by every automobile driver in the world. Now, since every automobile driver in the world (including me to a lesser extent) doesn’t seem to realize that he is helping to drive this world into a hopeless future, then we may as well help Canadians earn a living while doing so. By exporting the dirty Alberta oil down into the States where it is refined and exported, we are, as Mulcair suggests, also exporting jobs. Jobs, that would be created by sending the dirty oil to Eastern Canada where it would be refined by established refineries, creating jobs, and sold to Canadians in Eastern Canada, instead of (as we are now doing) importing oil from the Middle East. Now is that so difficult?

      • One qualifier: we would likely have to refit or build a new refinery, as I don’t think any of the Eastern refineries are currently capable of refining bitumen. But then, the refit/build means even more (short-term) job creation :-)

        • Nobodies going to build or refit a refinery in Canada any time soon. The world has all the refining capacity that it needs. There’s a reason why politicians are the only ones talking about it as if it were a possibility.

      • If a job is created in America and not Canada, that is not “exporting a job”. To “export” something, it has to exist in Canada first. By your logic, everything that’s imported into Canada comes from an “exported job”.

        • It is not that difficult. If you have a resource in your country, for example a mineral, or a tree, if you simply mine the mineral, or cut down that tree, and then send them on to another country, to be finished into an end product that could have been done in your own country, then you are exporting a job. Read briguyhfx’s reply. He is being facetious, of course, but he is making the same point.
          Add to that: If the Americans are building a car (from steel that we sent to them :)), and they allow Canadians to build parts for that car instead of doing the whole thing themselves, they are exporting jobs to Canada. I can’t make it any simpler than that. And that is what Mulcair is saying about exporting jobs in the oil industry to the United States.

          • *Sigh* Except it can’t be done in Canada. All of our refineries operate at capacity. So someone would have to build a new refinery. If that were economically viable, the private sector would have done it, rather than shutting down half of Canada’s refineries. So, that would leave the government to build it. They’d sink $10B into a refinery that would create a couple hundred jobs. Thats $50M/job created in an industry that’s in perpetual contraction and makes very little money. So most likely in 10 years when the government’s refinery is finally finished being built, they’ve squeezed a couple of private sector refineries out of the country, and their tax revenue with them, spent $10B, and we’re exporting refined petroleum products, made no money in the process, and we’d still need a bloody pipeline to the US to export our refined product.

            In short, we’re out over $10B with nothing to show for it except for a couple hundred jobs that aren’t economically sustainable, and we’ve delayed building a pipeline for ten years that could have been exporting bitumen at basically the same net profit to Canada as the refined product the entire time.


    • Canada has a long, proud history of exporting raw goods, letting other people manufacture finished goods, and then buying those finished goods back at a significant mark-up. We are, at heart, hewers of logs and drawers of water. Anyone who would fight to build a manufacturing tradition in Canada is clearly opposed to our history of a people who only gain value from primary resources. Such traitors.

  2. Hey, I’m ok with letting Mulcair do the supporting of the carbon tax and letting him do the objecting to the Keystone pipeline

    And I’m ok with letting Harper do the supporting of the Keystone pipeline and letting him do the objecting of the carbon tax.

    Hey, the Canadian voter will ultimately decide. It won’t be easy………. Lol

    • Whaaat zat…clearly one of us has been drinking.

  3. Let Harper run Mr. Penashue again.

    And have the Canadian Parties refuse to partake in the sham election Harper is promoting that will have to be with a vote strike in Labrador by the voters and the Idle No More Movement backing up the polling stations.

    Harper wants democracy war lets give him one…enough of this jack booting all over Canada.

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