Need to know: Joe Oliver’s sort-of charm offensive

The Natural Resources Minister needs to win aboriginal hearts and minds


Adrian Wyld/CP

The story
It’s not exactly a charm offensive, but Joe Oliver’s posturing on energy development seems to half-signal some measure of positivity between his office and the myriad aboriginal groups that have a stake in the natural resources beneath the earth’s surface. Sort of.

Earlier this year, the government appointed Doug Eyford, a Vancouver lawyer, to sound out aboriginal concerns about western pipeline development. He reported directly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. On Dec. 5, Eyford filed his report. He insisted that the feds, if they hope to reach any common ground with indigenous groups, should work “to build trust with Aboriginal Canadians, to foster their inclusion into the economy, and to advance the reconciliation of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in Canadian society.” Play nice, be genuine, act in good faith, be respectful.

Oliver, the Natural Resources Minister, said the government would listen to the report’s recommendations. This morning, The Globe and Mail reports that Oliver’s defending his government’s record with aboriginals. “There is more constructive dialogue than there might appear to be,” he said, enumerating the number of aboriginal leaders he’s met this year. Oliver, of course, doesn’t mention the number of aboriginal leaders who won’t sit in the same room with him, nor will he address the unresolved issues—namely, most of the issues—that arose during the Idle No More movement. But there’s always room for growth.

This afternoon, the National Energy Board’s joint review panel releases its final report on the Northern Gateway pipeline. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair will, under no circumstances, support the proposed pipeline. If the panel has no problem with Northern Gateway, the NDP leader will lash out at the unfairness of the process and claim the new pipes are being forced on an unhappy public. If the panel quibbles, Mulcair might listen, if only to further condemn a hapless government.

Oliver can only hope that, no matter the NEB’s conclusions, any lingering concerns can be addressed and he can find just enough aboriginal support to claim some kind of moral authority to move ahead with the project. It will be messy, as it has been. But nothing else is new for this governing party, which, after a nasty few months, could really use a win.

The stat
20: The number of aboriginal chiefs and elders Oliver has met in 2013

The quote
“I’m finding overwhelmingly but not universally that there is a real desire to move forward generally and in some cases on specific projects—people don’t want to miss an opportunity.” —Oliver, on aboriginal interest in energy development


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail The U.S. Federal Reserve will ease its ongoing economic stimulus.
National Post
A train rolled through Lac-Mégantic, Que., for the first time since July.
Toronto Star Reporter Daniel Dale dropped his defamation suit against Rob Ford.
Ottawa Citizen Wooden buildings are vulnerable to fire during construction.
CBC News The National Energy Board will release its Northern Gateway report.
CTV News A jury will return its verdict into the Ashley Smith inquest.
National Newswatch Military brass are worried about budget cuts on national defence.


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THE GLOBAL South Sudan. Rebel militia loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar overtook Bor, the capital of Jonglei state. The government continued to accuse Machar of attempting a coup d’etat last week, charges he denies. Salva Kiir, president of the fledgling nation, said he’s open to talks with Machar.


Need to know: Joe Oliver’s sort-of charm offensive

  1. There’s an old agricultual age saying that Harper is about to realize….chickens do come home to roost.

  2. I hate to be that guy, but Mulcair is the leader of the NDP, not the NDO. :)

    • But you clearly are that guy. What does it mean?

      • Some men are born pedantic d*cks. Others have pedantic d*ckishness thrust upon them.

        • I was thinking it might be gift.

    • Maclean’s has crowdsourced its proofreading. Those of us who want properly spelled and punctuated reading material must carry the load ourselves. (Thanks, Sean.)

    • New Democrat Opposition leader?

  3. “Play nice, be genuine, act in good faith, be respectful.”

    So basically, don’t be yourselves.

    • But I think they can do it; for some reason it just isn’t the default mode. I sometimes wonder if they actually get some amount of pleasure from tweaking opponents. It’s not a style that I find endearing or admirable, but that’s just me.

      • It isn’t just you. It’s just about every FN on the coast. Methinks Joe O is building his castle on the sand.

  4. This “saga” makes a good case for converting Canada to a republic. Then Harper, being elected to the post of President in 2011 could have appointed Doug Eyford to the post of Secretary of Natural Resources. Instead, with our inferior system, Harper had limited options, and was stuck appointing Oliver to head that department.

  5. Three thoughts on this:

    1. Lest it become normalized, let’s remember that this sort of analysis used be handled by the Ministry of the Environment, before Harper handed it over the NEB.

    2. “Play nice, be genuine, act in good faith, be respectful.” I’m afraid you lost the entire government at “good faith.”

    3. Joe Oliver can fornicate himself with an iron stick.

    • 1) Is well worth recalling from the mists of time pre Harper era. I fondly recall the debate we almost but not quite had over that.
      2) Is a given
      3) Be kind now, Joe is a bit of a fossil himself.

  6. Political incompetence on this file seems to follow Joe around like a cloud. I imagine he has some pull here, so why would he permit the NEB to release their report in Calgary? That is like another poke in the eye with a sharp stick if you’re one of those BCers who might be wavering. And i imagine its like a red rag to a bull if you’re one of those coastal chiefs he purports to charm.

    • Joe Oliver’s birth name was Joe Btfsplk.

  7. Successful development is a two way street.

    If Oliver is expected to play nice, be genuine, act in good faith and be respectful, then Canadians can expect the very same from the native community, no?

    • “the native community”.

      Really? There’s just the one?

    • “… then Canadians can expect the very same from the native community, no?”

      Which they can only do by agreeing to the pipeline?

      • Of course. Isn’t that obvious? [ just saving you some work FV]

    • Er, not exactly. Joe is the seller here FV. The buyer is always allowed to kick the tires and send them back if he doesn’t want or need them, no?

    • Don’t use the term Canadians when the group you actually mean is Reform-Canadians. The rest of us had no issues and didn’t think it was smart to call the FNs names and belittle them at every opportunity. But Stevie and the Knuckledraggers just love them stereotypes and loved beating up on FNs for no reason and for purely nasty reasons and to appease the base.
      If the FNs decide to tell the fools who are in power to get to ****, then this government has no-one to blame but themselves.

    • I expect those behaviours from Oliver and the native community.

      Further, I expect those behaviours from both sides regardless of how well the “other” side is meeting that goal.

  8. Is it my job to carry my neighbours’ pipelines? I don’t think so.

    • Zing!

    • Nicely done.

    • I don’t know, but we carry some of yours. Just being neighbourly and all!

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