In a clear warning shot across President Obama’s bow, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper voiced the strongly-held view of millions of Canadians.
If Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta oilfields to the US Gulf Coast, Harper clearly stated, “My view is that you don’t take no, for an answer.”
In other words, Harper pulled a “Dirty Harry,” and challenged Obama, by saying in effect, “President Obama, go ahead, cancel Canada’s Keystone pipeline, and make our day!”
Harper conveyed these strong comments recently in New York at a Canadian American Business Council meeting.
When referring to a possible negative response from Obama, Harper said. “We haven’t had that, but if we were to get that, it won’t be final. This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward…The logic behind this project is simply overwhelming.”
Harper added that politics has cast doubt on whether the pipeline will be approved, but Harper is optimistic it will be approved.
“Ultimately, over time, bad politics make bad policy,” he added. “The president has always assured me that he will a make decision that’s in what he believes is in the best interests of the United States based on the facts. I think the facts are clear.”
Predictably, Harper was criticized in Huffington Post, by former Liberal leader Bob Rae.
Bob Rae had the gall to publicly criticize Harper for saying out loud, what has been patently obvious even to the most uninformed voter on both sides of the American/Canadian border.
That the decision of whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline, is first, last and foremost, all about politics!
Like Harper, Rae is a career politician. He eats, sleeps and breathes politics 24/7.
Rae should know politics when he sees it.
But as a partisan Liberal politician, Rae could not help but take a cheap political shot at Harper, for standing up to the most powerful political leader in the world in New York and speaking truth to power.
And for Harper essentially exposing Obama as a weak, dithering and befuddled leader of the once great United States.
“Mr. Harper’s outburst in New York about Keystone is particularly strange. Former Ambassador Jacobson used to talk publicly about a U.S. ‘process.’ But now Mr. Harper has declared that it’s all politics. One can only guess what the administration thinks of a prime minister who saunters into New York and effectively bad mouths the American administration and environmental process. Lester Pearson was picked up by the lapels by LBJ for less.”
I would like to see the slight Obama pick up the portly Harper by his lapels. That would be “must-see TV” for me on CNN.
As to the whether this endless ongoing review of the Keystone pipeline is a non partisan, scientific, fact-based, apolitical environmental process, that ship sailed way back in 2010.
At that time, the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated that although the State Department had not completed its full analysis, Clinton was ready to sign off on approving the Keystone pipeline, way back in 2010!
But as the CNN article argues, pro-environment donors and organizations warned Obama in 2011, over 12 months prior to the 2012 Presidential election, that unless Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline, he would not be able to count on the donations of large pro environment donors and the organizational strength of large pro environment groups, for his re-election efforts.
So for largely political reasons, and in order to retain his pro-environment base, Obama punted the Keystone decision to after the 2012 Presidential election.
In early March, 2013, I wrote in the Huffington Post that the US State Department released a draft environment impact statement on the Keystone pipeline project.
This report concluded “the approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or in the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”
This State Department report concluded that the oil-sands producers would eventually find new routes to markets, including the growing use of rail cars to transport crude oil around North America.
Since the issuance of that report, that is what has happened in the last six months.
In short, the pipeline will have minimal impact on the global emissions of greenhouse gases, because the oil will alternatively be transported by rail and other pipelines east and west to market. In addition, in the absence of Canadian oil, the US would still have to rely on imported Venezuelan oil, which also produces greenhouse gases.
Notwithstanding the clear conclusions of this State Department report, Obama’s wealthy eco-supporters in Hollywood, California and New York, and many Democratic environmental groups continued to oppose Keystone.
As a result, Obama has become immobilized by indecision, much like Obama’s “on again, off again” befuddled non-military response to Syria numerously crossing Obama’s chemical weapons’ red line.
There have been over five years of determined and diplomatic lobbying by Canadian oil companies, TransCanada Corporation, the Canadian pipeline company, the governments of Alberta and Canada. And despite the support of many Democratic labor unions and Democratic and Republican representatives, Obama still dithers, afraid to make a decision.
Harper has concluded that Obama cannot be trusted. If he rejects Keystone, so be it.
Harper should be commended for speaking truthfully to Obama and the US, that Canada’s oil and gas industry is critical to Canada’s future prosperity. And that Harper will continue to fight to transport Alberta oil to the US regardless whether Obama rejects Keystone.
In a few years, Harper will still be prime minister. Obama will have faded into history.
Harper correctly concludes that the next American President will have the cojones and smarts to approve Keystone for the sake of retaining a reliable and critical source of American energy, for American national security and for growing the American economy.