Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Canada and Iowa: Axis of Boredom

It’s not easy to decide which is more boring: thinking about what happened in Canada this year or thinking about what will happen in the Iowa caucuses next week.

Also, your pulse won’t quicken knowing that Texas Governor Rick Perry has been talking about Canada in Iowa. However, his ability to even get Canada wrong earned coverage in the New York Times and, for that, attention must be paid.

“The audiences at Mr. Perry’s events seemed somewhat unmoved by parts of his speech that talked about job creation. But when it came to energy and oil, they perked up.

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

“Later, the audience reacted again to Mr. Perry’s assertion that buying so much energy from foreign countries is “not good policy, it’s not good politics and frankly it’s un-American.”

Canada just had a good year internationally, winning awards for livability, hospitality, and governance, while being singled out as the developed world’s worst polluter by the people’s green court in Durban, South Africa. Canada also had a good year in Washington, signing security deals and dropping bombs for NATO in Libya and Afghanistan. But none of that was good enough for Rick Perry and the people of Clarinda, Iowa.

Americans are spending billions administering their northern border and cutting their own throats commercially at the same time—and they can’t be bothered to recognize Canada as a foreign country!

The “Clarinda Incident” is too small to hurt. Canadians are now too big for that. However, Perry won applause for saying something that is essentially true: since the Free Trade Agreement of 1988, Canada is no longer a foreign supplier of oil like any other.

Canada’s oil industry, its industrial infrastructure, and its energy policies and regulations are continentally integrated. A barrel of Alberta oil contracted by an American consumer is as secure and as reliable as a barrel of oil contracted from an Alaskan. Indeed, its transportation and environmental risks are actually less. As a strategic North American asset, oil in Alberta is as valuable as oil in Texas—and is incomparably more secure than oil contracted off-shore from any other sovereign state.

The border risk—the sovereignty risk—is all on the Canadian side. That’s why it hurts to laugh at Perry’s clumsy language. Harper can’t turn off Canadian oil over the Keystone pipeline dispute. Furthermore, he can’t divert additional volumes of Alberta oil to China for many years without first going through a terrible fight with Canadian environmentalists, First Nations, and British Columbia, Canada’s third largest province.

The “Clarinda Incident” ought to be a wake-up call about the cruel reality of US presidential politics. Through to the Christmas recess of 2012, Obama and other Washington leaders will be making promises and decisions that profoundly affect Canadians. Canadians, unlike the good citizens of Clarinda, however, will have no say.

Happy New Year.

No comments:

Post a Comment