Posted by leftdog 92 days ago (http://buckdogpolitics.blogspot.com)
Pipelines have already carried share of hot airBy Bruce Johnstone - Regina Leader-Post Aside from oil and gas, pipelines seem to be useful conduits for transporting another commodity we seem to have a surplus of - hot air.No sooner had Premier Brad Wall returned from his trip to Washington, D.C., last week, where he spoke to politicians and business leaders about the importance of approving the Keystone XL pipeline, he was blasting federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair for failing to defend Canada's interests in the U.S., namely promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.Wall accused Mulcair of leaving a "swath of destruction for the energy sector'' by telling Americans the Harper government was "playing people for fools'' by making claims about its environmental record and its stance on climate change.
Not content with charging Mulcair of "effectively betraying Canadian interests,'' Wall went on to tar newly elected provincial NDP leader Cam Broten with the same brush. "What Mulcair and the NDP are doing - with no objection from the Saskatchewan NDP or (its) new leader - is being quite destructive in terms of getting this important pipeline project approved.''
Broten responded with qualified support for Keystone XL: "If the National Energy Board approves it based on the triple bottom line of environmental, economic and social benefits, it's
something that we support,'' Broten said Tuesday. When Wall pointed out the NEB had approved the Keystone three years ago, Broten removed the qualification, saying he unequivocally supported Keystone XL.
Then, the Saskatchewan Tory caucus jumped into the fray and accused Mulcair of going to the U.S. to "talk down Canada and put narrow political interests ahead of job creation and economic growth in Saskatchewan." Borrowing a line from a recent Tory attack ad that "Mulcair's NDP has come out squarely against resource development, calling it a 'disease,'" the Tory caucus went on to say that "Mulcair's NDP continues to undermine our economy and national interests here in Saskatchewan and abroad."
Not to be outdone, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver slammed Mulcair for failing to support a project the government believes is critical to increasing energy exports and growing the economy. "It isn't helpful when a senior member of Parliament comes down there either directly or indirectly to speak against a project that is in Canada's national interest."
So what exactly did Mulcair say in Washington that has everybody's knickers in a knot? Was it a betrayal of our national interests? Turns out Mulcair didn't bring up Keystone directly, other than to say it was an American decision. But when asked, Mulcair said he believed that Keystone was exporting Canadian jobs - 40,000, according to some studies - and "that is a bad thing for Canada.''
Instead, Mulcair argued for an east-west pipeline that would create more jobs in Canada and reduce imports of crude oil. He also suggested that the Harper government's track record on the environment - pulling out of Kyoto, gutting environmental regulations and agencies, not meeting its GHG targets - make it less credible as a proponent of the environmental benefits of pipelines.It should be noted Mulcair's views are shared by many people, both here and in the U.S. The day he spoke in Washington, the New York Times editorialized that President Barack Obama should kill Keystone XL because of environmental concerns.
In recent days, thousands of Americans rallied in Washington to oppose the $7.6-billion project to bring 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil, mainly bitumen from Alberta, to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Besides, Mulcair is not the first opposition leader to disagree with government policy while in another country. In fact, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made many such statements as opposition leader.
Remember, as leader of the opposition, Mulcair has a job to do. It is not, as Wall, Oliver and the Tory caucus are suggesting, to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. His job is to articulate and defend his party's position, at home and abroad. Mulcair knew full well his speech to about 30 people in D.C. wouldn't make headlines in the U.S., but it would back home.
Finally, let's turn the political rhetoric down a notch or two. It's bad enough to have to listen to attack ads during an election campaign, let alone in non-election years.
Johnstone Is The Leader-Post's Financial Editor.© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post