Barack Obama has been signalling that the Keystone Pipeline is not all it's cracked up to be. In a recent interview in the New York Times, he said that the argument that Keystone will be a big job creator is a myth. In reality, it may only produce 2,000 immediate jobs and 50 to 100 long term ones. Tasha Kheiriddin writes that, if Keystone goes down, the dream of a Conservative political hegemony will go down with it:
Pipelines represent the key to a Western Canadian century – and the Tories’ dreams of political hegemony. Just like opening up the St. Lawrence Seaway boosted Central Canada at the expense of the Maritimes in the last century, so enriching the West would reduce Ontario and Quebec’s interests, both economic and political.
Oil is the Conservative lifeblood. Without it, the present government will die. But, Mr. Harper has already shot himself and his party in the foot. Obama has also signalled that if Canada had a better record of looking out for environmental interests, Keystone would be an easier sell. And, if Obama kills Keystone, there will be ripples throughout North America:
If Obama kiboshes Keystone, its impact will nonetheless be significant, due to two factors: symbolism and timing. On a symbolic level, American environmentalists would embrace a Keystone rejection as a sign that pipelines can be defeated. The decision would energize their movement and encourage their Canadian brethren to fight similar projects with renewed vigour. As in the United States, their votes would matter, as evidenced by the British Columbia government’s recent rejection of Northern Gateway in its current form, due to concerns over Enbridge’s ability to clean up spills.
Harper has ignored the first rule of economics: a strong economy is a diversified economy. He has put all his eggs in the pipeline basket. If the Keystone dream dies, so do all the other Conservative pipe dreams.