Keystone Kops

Sometimes, we worry about our fellow Canadians.

Like now, for example. Just a few days ago, the Americans decided to make no decision about the so-called Keystone Pipeline. Their non-decision has effectively scuttled the pipeline for the time being and perhaps for a long time.

Some Canadians reacted to the Keystone un-decision like, well, Keystone Kops. As with the Vaudevillian troupe that bore that name, some folks ran around in circles, colliding into each other, colliding into walls, colliding into microphones.

One of them was newly minted federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

He was shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Like plenty of Canadians, I’ve never met Oliver, but I’ve heard him on the radio quite a few times. Unlike most of the Stephen Harper cabinet, Oliver elected for the first time in May’s election in a Toronto-area riding wasn’t deathly afraid of speaking to the CBC.

I have it on good authority that many CBC journalists like him because (a) he is an intelligent, moderate and an easy interview, and (b) he acknowledges their existence. Personally, I thought he sounded like a pretty reasonable fellow and even said so to a few mortified Conservatives.

Anyway, when the Keystone non-decision was non-made, here’s what Oliver said: “I think if it’s delayed too long then the project could, you know, fall off. And the economic viability of any project could be undermined by excessive delay. This wasn’t helpful.”

It also wasn’t a surprise, Joe. Not even a little bit. And the fact that you and your boss are insinuating it was Stephen Harper, on the weekend in Hawaii, also whispered to President Barack Obama that was he taken aback and disappointed is a load of hooey. It’s B.S.

In case it has escaped your notice, it’s a presidential election year, Joe.

Obama has been hammered by a faltering economy and the Republicans seem to be on the rebound, even if a lot of their presidential candidates are certifiable. If he is to be re-elected, Obama needs every lucky break he can get.

Contrary to what Harper claimed in Hawaii, Keystone XL doesn’t “make sense” to Obama at all. It is the sort of thing that could render his presidency a one-term affair, in fact.

Here are the fundamentals. They’re facts.

One, Keystone XL is a great, big pipeline stretching from the oilsands in Alberta’s northeast to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. The three-feet-diameter pipelines — there’s a few of them­ ­— are to be rolled out in different phases and snake through a number of American states. One of them will run across a huge aquifer in Nebraska.

Two, plenty of folks ranging from Republican politicians to Hollywood stars, have come out, hard, against the pipeline. They say it could end up polluting water and soil, and hurt wildlife. They also don’t like the oilsands all that much and haven’t been persuaded in the slightest by the “ethical oil” bunkum.

Three, IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR, JOE. If Obama did what you wanted him to do, he’d be a goner. And, if you’re as smart as I’ve been told you are, why’d you serve up this foul-smelling plate of stew during an election year?

Like I say, Keystone Kops. It fits.

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