Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's The Oil, Stupid



The Harper government's budget is all about oil. The changes in environmental assessment and employment insurance are all about goosing Canada's petroleum exports. As an economist, Stephen Harper supposedly learned something about the wisdom of diversification. "But," Lawrence Martin writes,

in the past decade, the clock has been turned back. Because of a boom in the oil and gas sector and a range of other factors, the economy has reverted toward being a staples-driven enterprise. “In July, 2011, unprocessed and semi-processed resource exports accounted for two-thirds of Canada’s total exports, the highest in decades,” [economist Jim] Stanford wrote. “Compare that to 1999, when finished goods made up almost 60 per cent of our exports.” 

As is the case in so many areas, the Harper government is hell bent on marching backwards -- and they will smear anyone who questions the wisdom of returning the Canadian economy to the nineteen century. Stanford writes that oil has become the driving force behind a new McCarthyism:

These diatribes against anyone who even acknowledges potential downsides or side-effects of the bitumen boom seem to herald a new, dangerous tendency in Canada’s political culture.  Opposing a bitumen-exporting pipeline in Canada these days makes you a foreign-financed subversive.  And it seems that questioning the economic effects of the bitumen export strategy makes you equally seditious.  I call this “energy McCarthyism,” and it should be rejected forcefully not just by those concerned with Canada’s deindustrialization and staples dependency, but by those worried about the quality of our democracy.

Peter Lougheed knew that Alberta's oil should be used to build a diversified economy. When Stephen Harper looks at the Canadian economy, all he sees is oil. He assumes that anyone who does not share his vision is stupid. He's got it backwards.

4 comments:

DFH said...

'tis so. One trick pony Con, con.

Anonymous said...

The cynic in me wants to believe they are smarter than most of us give them credit for (and consequently much more evil...)

My thoughts go like this -

The world is going to have to cut back on carbon energy usage...

But we have a lot of it...

Lets sell all we can before the rules are enforced...

Also, prepare to cheat once the rules are in place...

BemusedLurker (Someone has to say it out loud...)

Owen Gray said...

I suppose -- as Bill Clinton said -- it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

I'm quite prepared to give these guys I marks for cynicism. And perhaps cynicism is a synonym for "smart." But, on the other hand, the smartest guys in the room brought us the financial crisis of 2008.

In the end, it all depends on how far and how broadly one sees. The Harper Party suffers from tunnel vision.

Owen Gray said...

They do, indeed, know one trick, DF. And they only know the words to one song.

Despite the claims they make, they are not very bright.