This week, the beloved Jimmy Carter became the first former American President to take a stance against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sand to refineries in the United States. His opposition did a lot to further his international reputation. Americans always knew he was history’s greatest monster, and now Canadians know too.
It didn’t take long for Stephen Harper, Canada’s ethical oil salesman, to set the record straight. As soon as he opened his mouth, the rhetoric began flowing as thick and as fast as dilbit from a hole in a pipeline. With skin as pale, eyes as grey, and a voice as chilling as the Ghost of Crisis Past, he cautioned that Jimmy should remember the 1979 oil shock, and think of how nice it would have been to have a secure supply of oil from a stable country like Canada. He was so busy trumpeting Canadian stability that Harper neglected to mention that Canada nearly fell victim to a coup d’état in 2008. But there’s no need to seek out the devil in these details- they are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. This point is that Canada has oil, and that everyone else needs it.
Carter may not have realized he was waking a sleeping dragon. Ok, let’s be honest, at the rate Harper has been sending out his salesman and advertising Canadian tar to American buyers there is no way we could say the dragon was sleeping. So let’s revise…Carter may not have realized Canada’s Prime Minister is a dragon. Polls suggest that the vast majority of Canadians wish they could be so innocent.
In any case, Carter should keep his 89-year-old nose out of Canada’s business. We as a country are perfectly capable of deciding what we want to sell and to whom we want to sell it. We also reserve the right to force the United States to buy as much of our tar as we are willing to sell. Further, and perhaps more importantly, we don’t need another slimy politician weighing in on everything we do. For the last two months we’ve endured Pierre Poilievre telling over 100 000 of us that it should be harder to vote in 2015, so perhaps it’s understandable that we don’t want anymore smart-ass words of wisdom.
But if we can manage, it might be worth considering Carter’s advice. Harper told Carter that Keystone XL is the right choice because it would provide the U.S. with enough oil to weather a storm. The problem with Harper’s logic is that the U.S. already has enough oil to weather a storm. There is more than enough dirty, dirty oil to go around. In fact, there is so much oil that Canada has to sell much of what it exports to the U.S. at a price significantly below the global average rate. The reason Canada wants Keystone XL built is so that we can sell more tar, even if at a lower price, in order to boost revenues. In other words, our Prime Minister is using an imaginary problem to try to sell a pipeline to an old man. Great- he’s managed to wrap elder abuse and investment fraud into a neat little package. Don’t be surprised if he lights that package on fire on your doorstep. And definitely don’t use your nice shoes to stamp it out.