It’s not easy for modest Canadian understatement to get attention when the other side claims that their President must side with the "survival of the planet" and nail those polluters up in Canada.
The leaders and campaign strategists of the American Climate Change movement have chosen Fort McMurray, Alberta, as their Selma, Alabama. Never has a protest movement employed as urgent language against the principle business of one boomtown. Never has American advocacy sounded so brave and asked so little of fellow Americans in their 50 states.
That said, in those undramatic moments when Obama was thinking about how he will explain himself to history, Obama would be well-served to read Derek Burney and Fen Osler Hampson’s quiet Canadian case for not blocking the Keystone XL project.
Ticket to North American energy independence was published this morning in the Globe and Mail. The following two sentences almost laughably understate the commercial and North American case for not interfering with a project that has passed US environmental scrutiny—nationally and in affected western states.
“Under NAFTA, Canada provided security of oil supply to the U.S., including supply on a pro rata basis in times of shortage, in exchange for security of demand. No other oil supplier has made a similar commitment to the U.S.”
That “security of demand” is at stake in your decision, Mr. President.
If Canadian governments and Canadians and Americans who invest in Canada can’t be reasonably sure that they have equal access to American consumers, Canada and the partnership will be the poorer; Canada will remain tied to your fate, but not as one who can trust you.
Canada, it’s true, didn’t get a free trade agreement that could've be compromised by future protectionist congresses. That’s probably unattainable so long as we remain entirely separate democracies.
Nevertheless, Canadian businesses have every right to expect that an intelligent second-term President will not hold Canadian energy business to a different, higher standard than American businesses—and make it relatively easier for Venezuela, Congo, and Saudi Arabia’s energy suppliers to do business in the United States.