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.