Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Wrong Kind Of Attention

Last week, Toronto Star columnist Rick Salutin compared Joe Oliver to Willy Loman, the woefully misguided drummer in Arthur Miller's play, Death of A Salesman. In Canada's ongoing pipeline saga, Salutin wrote:

Resources Minister Joe Oliver is the Willy Loman of this drama, without Willy’s panache. His attacks on climate scientist James Hansen or Al Gore are ludicrous; those two lack any personal, financial interest for undermining Canadian oil; their sole motive, wrong-headed or not, is saving the planet. Weak sales strategy, minister.

Willy was not much of a salesman. But he was a legend in his own mind. And his inability to see who he was -- and the harm he caused -- was at the heart of Miller's tragedy. The Harper government's insistence -- from the beginning, and again last week at the Council on Foreign Relations -- that the Keystone Pipeline is a "no brainer"  has generated a continent wide backlash. On Friday, Rick Smith -- the Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute -- wrote, also in the Star:

Simply put, Big Oil is reaping what it sowed. In a country where due process is respected, where people want to have their say, the heavy-handedness and arrogance of oil companies and the Harper government turned a previously obscure environmental issue (I mean, who really paid any attention to pipelines up until the last year and a half?) into a much more potent concern regarding the erosion of democracy and fairness.

Like Willy, the Harperites believe they can sell anybody anything. But the truth is that they -- like Willy --  are pathetic salesmen. Stephen Harper continues to insist, like Willy's long suffering wife Linda, that "attention must finally be paid." The trouble is, it's the wrong kind of attention.


Rene said...

Oliver's simply a loud-mouth bully, Harper might as well name him Ambassador to Israel as that's the only subject Oliver seems familiar with.

He waged his entire election campaign on his commitment to Israel, how he's prepared to fight on their behalf no matter when, against no matter whom, and it doesn't matter why and accused his rivals of failure to make similar claims.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps Oliver will replace Baird in the rumored cabinet shuffle, Rene.

Diplomacy and the Harper government are mutually exclusive terms.