If there was any doubt that the Harper government is owned by the oil companies, Joe Oliver's rant last week against foreign "billionaire socialists" should put an end to any misconceptions. As Jeffrey Simpson points out, Oliver's oxymoron was yet another example of Harperian hypocrisy. Canadian money flooded Washington a year ago in support of the Keystone Pipeline:
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.”
Even more disturbing is the government's attempt to shut down the environmental assessment hearings. As is this government's practice, it seeks once again to tar its opponents. But they will not back down:
Sierra Club of Canada Executive Director John Bennett accused the government of engaging in an unprecedented effort to damage the credibility of the “mainstream” environmental movement.
Of the Northern Gateway hearings, Bennett said, “People are just exercising their democratic right to be heard on an issue that will impact all Canadians, present and future. The purpose of an environmental assessment is to ask tough questions and hear the answers. Why does Mr. Oliver so strongly object to this? Do we no longer live in a democracy? Do our citizens no longer have the right to ask tough questions and express their opinions?”
Bob Rae argues that the government's tactics are tantamount to interfering in a law case. But, as the recent passage of the bill to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board proves, the Harperites believe that the law is an ass -- unless they make the law. Oil is this government's lifeblood.