Despite different family trees and social pretensions, centrist social democrats and centrist liberals in Canada offer the same opposition and alternative vision to Stephen Harper’s Canada.
Style-wise, of course, they still see things differently. Liberals strain to be exciting; social democrats fret about sounding respectable and being well mannered. Social democrat politesse is especially important when visiting Washington. Certainly, according to Paul Koring in his Globe piece, “Mulcair to sidestep Keystone on U.S. Trip,” that appears to be New Democrat Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair’s biggest concern.
Here’s his prepared line on the only Canadian issue that presently interests Washingtonians:
“My position is that the Americans are going to sort themselves out (on Keystone) based on their own rules,” he said Sunday in a telephone interview, declining to offer either clear support for the pipeline that will funnel Alberta oil-sands crude to Texas refineries or urge it be rejected, as demanded by U.S. environmental groups.”
Rather than offend unilateralist impulses in progressive circles in Washington by alluding to Canada-US trade interests and formal covenants, he wants to educate Americans on the NDP’s “vision for the future,” including that 19th-century habit of subsidizing east-west capital projects to make Canada secure and (presumably) not reliant on Americans and their precious rules.
This message will bore Americans and will play very poorly back in Canada.
No American in Washington who’ll be listing to Thomas Mulcair won’t already know that numerous Canadian politicians and flush patriotic bankers are talking up multi-billion dollar east-west infrastructure projects—nation-building ideas that economics didn’t favor in the past.
From coast to coast, they remain worth studying, but, commercially, not—yet—are worth doing.
On the other hand, the Keystone XL Project has already been financed privately, has oil suppliers and customers, and has the immediate capacity to restore confidence in Alberta’s economy and Canada’s relationship with the United States—without compromising joint work on a gimmick-light, North American Climate Change strategy.
When talking about energy options, Thomas Muclair should know that it’s first necessary to make sense to those who are energy literate—and have an immediate interest in the issue. Unless gasoline prices at the pump are rising, the millions who smile when he repeats nationalist bromides will be smiling for Justin tomorrow.