Next month, the Harper government will announce its decision on the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Murray Dobbin writes:
The momentum of opposition to the pipeline -- and perhaps more importantly, to the hundreds of supertankers that would move tar sands bitumen to Asia -- is clearly growing in both B.C. and the rest of Canada. This makes Harper's absolute dedication to the oil industry and his dogged commitment to the pipeline in particular, tantamount to a suicide pact. This is a pipeline that will never be built. It is already dead. But don't assume Harper sees that. His decision, as many of them are, will be a war between his highly touted strategic genius and his narcissistic impulses -- revealed by a pattern of rejecting defeat until reality can no longer be denied.
Harper only sees reality when it's too late. The result has been a legacy of disastrous decisions:
The government's one rational economic effort, its $14-billion infrastructure program, is in such disarray that a whole construction season may well be lost due to confusion amongst municipalities regarding how to access it.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is a disaster for many reasons. One is that the promised (and politically critical) reforms to the program are being cited as a major stumbling block to trade deals with Europe and India. Both include generous provisions for European and Indian companies to import their own nationals to work in businesses they establish here. Cuts to the TFWP are generating complaints.
To add to the government's woes, the latest StatsCan jobs report for April showed a net loss of 29,000 jobs. And it was the composition of those losses that should have the Harperium sweating. All of the job losses were concentrated in full-time employment. An increase in low-paying jobs actually made the situation look better than it was. Losses in the highest paid sectors were serious: "…finance, insurance and real estate (down 19,000), professional, scientific and technical services (down 10,000), natural resources (down 7,000) and utilities (down 5,000)...
Approval of Northern Gateway will only add to that disastrous legacy. A wiser politician would know when to fold his cards and walk away. But Harper is not that kind of politician:
He is a huge risk taker. But risk taking is not in itself a virtue. Indeed, some of the biggest risk takers are psychopaths, and you certainly wouldn't want one of those running your country. A recent study out of Vanderbilt University "… shows that people with psychopathic tendencies (like aggression, lack of empathy, lack of fear) are more prone to take excessive risk without considering the consequences," reports Business Insider, "It's not just that they don't appreciate the potential threat, but that the anticipation or motivation for reward overwhelms those concerns."
In the end, approving Northern Gateway may result in Harper's political suicide. Those with inflated egos are more likely to walk off cliffs, assuming that someone or something will cushion the fall.