In at least one way, Stephen Harper is absolutely consistent: He is the author of his own misery. That was apparent in 2008, when he almost brought his government down by removing public funding for political parties. It was apparent again last week when the Supreme Court reminded Harper that, if he wanted to reform the Senate, he would have to play by constitutional rules.
And, Robert Asselin writes, it was apparent when Barack Obama decided to delay approval of the Keystone Pipeline. Harper has only himself to blame:
Back in November 2008, President-elect Obama issued a statement: “Few challenges facing America — and the world — are more urgent than combating
climate change. Many of you are working to confront this challenge … but too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office.”
Obama sent a signal from the beginning of his administration that climate change would be on his agenda. But Harper isn't good at picking up on signals from other people:
Knowing the oilsands were a tough sale for the Obama administration because of their obvious environmental footprint, what did the Harper government
offerto make Keystone acceptable?
Not much. The Harper government came to the table with no real substantive offering. After eight years in office, Harper still hasn’t put forward meaningful greenhouse gas emission regulations or policies that would make Canada a world leader in research, clean technologies and energy innovation. Instead, his government bought massive ads in D.C. subway stations to argue Canada is a stable, friendly country that has a lot of oil to
Prime Minister Harper’s approach to selling the Obama administration on Keystone amounts to this: We have a lot of oil, so do yourself a favour and take it. And if you don’t take ours, you’ll be stuck with Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and a lot of unstable countries.
The prime minister, in effect, told Obama that -- when it came to energy -- Canada was in the driver's seat. He did not foresee that the Americans would look for new sources of energy within their own borders. And he did not foresee the enormous backlash against Keystone within those borders.
Foresight isn't one of Harper's strengths. He didn't foresee the financial meltdown of 2008. His spin machine likes to trumpet the message that one of his strengths is standing by his principles. But perhaps it has nothing to do with principles.
Perhaps it's just stupidity.