Beggar thy neighbour

In an article in the Calgary Sun, David Akin reports that Vancouver Mayor (and formed NDP MLA) Gregor Robertson, who campaigned for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is visiting Ottawa and is looking to collect … by asking the prime minister “to spike a project that see more Alberta crude shipped to export markets through the Port of Vancouver.

1297844124374_ORIGINALMr Akin goes on to explain that: “Robertson wants Trudeau and his cabinet to reject a $6.8-billion project put forward by pipeline operator Kinder Morgan to vastly expand its existing TransMountain pipeline, which is already shipping Alberta crude to the Port of Vancouver … [but] … if Trudeau wants to count Robertson [as] one of his best buds, Trudeau will likely have to annoy some other new political friends on the other side of the Rockies: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. They’ve been arguing that getting crude to the Pacific is vital for Alberta and Canada’s economic interests.

justin-trudeau-naheed-nenshiMeanwhile, over in the Globe and Mail, Shawn McCarthy reports that “Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Monday accused his Vancouver counterpart, Gregor Robertson, of fear-mongering over the latter’s high-profile campaign to block an oil pipeline project that many in Alberta see as crucial to the province’s economic well-being.

So what is a selfie-snapping, ‘I love everybody,’ Sunny Ways prime minister to do when regional “beggar they neighbour” politics ~ classic NIMBYism ~ rears its very ugly head? How will he, how can he reconcile the competing imperatives? And, I suspect that both Mayors Nenshi and Robertson are expressing very, very popular views in their respective regions.

justin-trudeau-liberal-leader-federal-election-2015At times Prime Minister Trudeau seemed to be not so much campaigning against oil as he was leading a children’s crusade against the whole of the industrial world, but, eventually, and maybe now is the time, it will prove impossible to keep all those balls in the air. He must either support getting Alberta’s oil to the world markets ~ something the Chinese appear to be insisting upon as a condition for a free trade deal ~ or he has to appease the enviro-left; I really cannot see how he can do both. One has to feel a little sorry for our hapless leader: he’s spending money like a drunken sailor in order to appease the Kathleen Wynne cabal that got him elected, and that means he really needs the kind of economic kickstart that a Chinese free trade deal would provide, but he captured the youth-left vote with his green promises and he needs them in 2019 if he is not going to be a one-term wonder.

It seems pretty clear, to me, that:

  • We, Canada (no matter who governs it), need pipelines to both coasts ~ and the Kinder Morgan line is the least problematical at this time;
  • We, Canada, writ large, again, do want to protect our environment ~ hell’s bells, we Conservatives ought not to be proposing anything but the safest, most environmentally sound ways to get our resources to the world markets; but
  • We remain a country of distant, disconnected regions, each with its own priorities and so”beggar they neighbour” politics is part of our political landscape because we are not, really, neighbours at all ~ we are more like condominium dwellers: we share a space without really knowing or caring much about one another.

A national leader ~ and it must be pretty clear to everyone who has read my ramblings that I do not believe Justin Trudeau is a leader of any sort ~  must be ready, willing and able to bring Canadians together and convince local and regional political magnates that beggar they neighbour politics is destructive to everyone.

The question is, who is that leader?

One of these people, I think …

… that’s right, you see some Liberals and Conservatives in there. There are a lot of good Liberals out there and the notion of a “natural governing party” is one we need to throw away. We, Liberals and Conservatives, must provide Canada with consistent good government and neither party can do it for too long … each will get old and tired and will need a spell on the opposition benches to renew its ideas.

The first idea that needs changing is that beggar they neighbour politics is acceptable in Canada.

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