Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pipelines and Narrow-Minded Thinking

Some Canadians have gotten upset about Obama not embracing the Keystone XL pipelines.  Some even see it as a defining issue in US-Canadian relations.  Michael Den Tandt suggests that the love affair between Canada and Obama is off:
But our love is unrequited. It always has been. And the indefinite shelving of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline linking Alberta’s oil sands with the Texas Gulf Coast, once considered a sure thing and now on life support thanks to Obama, is the incontrovertible evidence.
I guess one gets overwrought when one's heart is broken, but this is all kinds of silly.  I am shocked, shocked to find that Obama might just care about domestic politics more than Canadian jobs.  Has Obama deliberately dithered because different parts of his constituency disagree about the pipeline?  Perhaps.  Does this say anything about his love of Canada and all things maple-flavored?  Not really. 

Energy politics are complex at all times, much more so as climate change is harder and harder to deny.  Now that the courts have made this more complex still with land rights being tossed into the blender of complexities.  Obama cannot wave a magic wand and get the courts to rule the way he might want (if he had a clear preference). 

"It is a display of shallowness, cowardice and economic incompetence on a grand scale," says Den Tandt.  Wow.  I am calling this the overreach of the year until  probably tomorrow.  The pipeline is really, really important to the oil industry and to environmentalists.  To everyone else, it is probably not on their top ten list for why they love/hate/like/dislike/ignore/whatever the President of the U.S.

Could he have managed this issue better?  Maybe.  But delays to beyond the next mid-term election might just be good politics.  What is good politics is often frustrating.  For instance, I am frustrated that the Harper government's insistence on a balanced budget in 2015, due to an artificially created sense of crisis, is causing all kinds of damage.  But I understand why he is doing it, and I don't think Americans love him any more or less as a result.

Oh, and if President Obama was making decisions based on earning Canadian love, we would be questioning his motivations.  But if that was his goal, he would deny Sidney Crosby residency in the US, forcing him to play for a Canadian team (maybe even kick a few hockey teams out of the US and send them back to Canada as well). 

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