Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gee, what "foreign interests" were behind Harper's killing of the Wheat Board?

The cry of opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline by "foreign interests" has become Stephen Harper's chief rallying call to steam roll its approval.

Gee, what "foreign interests" do you suppose were behind Harper's decision to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board? No party benefits more from that decision than "foreign interests" such as American agri-giants like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), on whose board Brian Mulroney sits.

‘Foreign money’ is a hypocritical diversion
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

It has been rich, even comic, to listen to the Harper government blasting away at “foreign money,” “radical groups” and Hollywood movie stars for interfering in the environmental review of the Northern Gateway pipeline that’s just starting.

Of course, such people and their money have entered the fray in Canada. It isn’t the first time (think of U.S. interventions against cutting old-growth forests in B.C.) and it won’t be the last. We live in a global world, and we share a continent with the U.S. (and Mexico) where one country’s decisions can affect the continent and planet.

Think back to last year, and the ones before that. TransCanada Pipelines sought U.S. approval for the Keystone XL pipeline to ship oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Regulatory hearings were required. Ultimately, the State Department (read: President Barack Obama’s administration) had to decide.

To influence U.S. opinion, both at the level of legislators and the general public, Canadian companies poured untold millions into the fray. They papered Washington with lobbyists, including someone who was once high up in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination and two former U.S. ambassadors to Canada. The Harper government put Canada’s entire diplomatic apparatus in the U.S. behind the Keystone campaign. The Prime Minister himself went to the U.S. and declared approval of Keystone a “no-brainer.”

These “radicals” (that is, Canadian business-at-any-cost types) and “foreign money” (read: Canadian dollars) intervened directly in the U.S. regulatory and political processes, as “foreign” interests often do to further their economic advantage. So to hear Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Prime Minister Stephen Harper railing against “foreign” (read: American) intervention in the Gateway hearings is, shall we say, a bit rich. What’s sauce for the goose really should be sauce for the gander.

The Harper government also took great public offence at the Obama administration’s decision to delay its verdict on Keystone pending further environmental studies in Nebraska, despite proponents changing the route. Mr. Harper hinted darkly that, if Americans didn’t want Canada’s oil, then someone else – presumably the Chinese – would.

The Obama administration’s decision was correctly interpreted by the Harper government as being all about U.S. presidential politics. Environmentalists had been very pro-Obama in the last election, and they’d been disappointed by his environmental record. The Keystone delay was largely about appeasing them, however temporarily. How shocking!

About as shocking as the Harper government’s rejection of BHP Billiton’s proposed takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. For a government committed to an open-door policy for foreign investment, whose Foreign Investment Review Agency had been a paper tiger under the Conservatives, what could possibly have persuaded the Harper government to reject the BHP takeover, and at the last moment?

Politics, of course. The then-minority Conservatives, facing an election, feared losing as many as half a dozen seats in Saskatchewan. To save those seats, the Harper government swallowed its principles and stiffed BHP. How shocking!

The government rightly decries the length of some environmental hearings. But the opposition to the Gateway pipeline isn’t largely foreign inspired. That argument is a hypocritical diversion – hypocritical, given Canadian interventions in U.S. decisions. The main opposition comes from the multiplicity of aboriginal groups.

The National Energy Board will eventually rubber-stamp the project. It always does, but not until years of hearings – unless the Harper government changes the legislation. Even then, legal challenges will go all the way to the Supreme Court. That court has issued an opaque ruling obliging governments and private interests to consult aboriginals before using land to which they’ve claimed title.

Since B.C. aboriginals have claimed the entire province, sometimes with overlapping claims, and since the B.C. commission supposed to settle land claims has been almost a total bust, the Gateway pipeline has entered the impenetrable thickets of aboriginal politics, title and law – meaning it won’t be built for a very long time, if at all.


Bruce Benson said...

The low life that is Steven Harper has aligned his interests only to foreign interests. Stevie and the Steam Rollers couldn't give a rats ass for Canadians or Canadian business except for businesses owned by foreigners. He will not be happy until he has sold off the works making more Canadians serfs in their own country. So does this not make Harper a traitor? Ah but like McDonalds, Canadians are still lovin it.

Dr Mike said...

Right on Bruce....

These guys salivated over foreign money when it came to takeover deals like the present mess with Caterpillar US here in London. These 700+ jobs are toast & heading south.

What a precedent setting disaster , & we will suffer for it.

Dr Mike Popovich

Brent Fullard said...

Not to mention the many foreign takeovers of Canadian income trusts (like the $5billion takeover of Prime West Energy by middle eastern Abu Dhabi Energy) as a DIRECT RESULT of Stephen Harper's income trust tax policy.

What a hypocritical fool, this Stephen Harporcrite!

Anonymous said...

I had quite a large investment in Prime West and Harvest Energy--all in my RRSP account. I had planned to be receiving income from that by now,but no such luck. I wonder who is next to be bought out? BB