Mr. Obama, it’s the economy, stupid

pipe

Why is this significant? Jobs, the economy and the political base. Both Canada and the United States would benefit tremendously if the Keystone pipeline project were approved. Thousands of jobs would be created in the United States if the administration were to give it the go-ahead. In Canada, it goes without saying that we would share the windfall of the economic benefits.

The hitch, however, is the political base of the governments in our respective countries. For Mr. Obama, he has calculated that despite a backdrop of a fragile underemployed American economy, the environmentalist base is vocal enough that it could make things tricky for his re-election. In Canada, the opposition is more of a passive nuisance on this. TO be sure, we are facing down not only the American left on this issue for Keystone, but delays and filibustering of the process at home threatens development of the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast.

Interestingly, the Canadian political tone has switched from one of defence (playing the shield on an issue) to one of offense (playing the sword). For Mr. Harper, a deliberate re-positioning on energy and the environment is becoming clear as Canada steers away from the Kyoto protocol and from paying lip service to action on the ‘green’ file. The government is indeed finding its confidence to push back on the environmental lobby and this is a marked change from just two years ago. Of course, this confidence comes from Parliamentary stability via a majority mandate. Mr. Obama, on the other hand is glueing together the pieces of his fractured base as he faces a tough fight this year.

Two politicians, one confident, the other fragile. Two positions on energy policy and economic development.

It is in Canada’s economic interest to drive up the political cost of delay and deferral on Keystone to help President Obama appreciate that lost jobs in the US comes at a greater price than upsetting another shard of his fractured base.

  • CanadianSense

    Canadian voters backed the Conservatives on Canadian exceptionalism.  The #MSM and left have not been able to understand the seismic shift on May 2.

  • http://harebell.wordpress.com/ harebell

    You do realise that even that doyen of rapacious capitalism Mitt Romney has recently endorsed Obama’s record on the US economy  and unemployment? Whereas the trend from recent Canadian unemployment figures is in the opposite direction.
    Given the starting positions both leaders found themselves in when they assumed control only one record would really be cause for concern.
    Confidence is no substitute for reality.

  • http://www.theseymourstandard.com/ M. Seymour

    Obama must have been tortured with this being forced on him. With the wide eyed radical environmentalists on one side, and the the labour movement on the other – both of which are needed to support him in the upcoming election – it was a no win situation.

    I do think that he chose poorly though. Environmentalists can be loud and obnoxious, but an improved economy and energy security would have done far more to win over the moderates and undecided voters.

    It is hopeful that Mr. Harper continues to set the narrative and hopefully the Northern Gateway Pipeline can proceed smoothly.

  • Anonymous

    The original Keystone pipeline route was ill-considered. Trans-Canada themselves compounded the local US opposition to the pipeline by being heavy-handed with individual US landowners, most of them otherwise die-hard conservatives. Way to go, TC.

    A pipeline is going to be built, have no fear, but if it’s going to take another year or two to get it right, well so be it. The US won’t be freezing in the dark, and they’ll still have underpriced gas, never fear.

    It is in Canada’s economic interest to drive up the political cost of
    delay and deferral on Keystone to help President Obama appreciate that
    lost jobs in the US comes at a greater price than upsetting another
    shard of his fractured base.

    It’s only in Canada’s interest to make trouble over Keystone if you believe we have nothing else but cheap oil to offer the US the world. The longer we are governed by the CPC, the truer that will be, but in the meantime we still have enough economic diversity and a few remaining shreds of international credibility that blindly meddling in US politics could ultimately hurt us more than help us.

    (The thought of a capricious, disorganized, philandering thrice-married
    (yet Catholic) wingnut toilet-brush like Gingrich emerging as the GOP presidential nominee is restoring hope to millions of progressives, but let’s not count the chickens yet. Still, do you really wanna piss off Obama when he’s enroute to another 4 years?)