With his cabinet’s second approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has either proved the Liberal Party of Canada’s old mojo is still intact or blown it all to smithereens.
It’s too soon to tell.
Alberta Conservatives and their legion of media cheerleaders obviously feared the first explanation was the truth, that Mr. Trudeau had somehow found the magic middle on this contentious issue and voters throughout the land would soon be flocking back to his side.
Why else would they be so cranky about an outcome that should have been easy for them to portray as a huge victory for their side?
Rather than celebrate, the Conservative commentariat spent the afternoon carping and moaning that Mr. Trudeau didn’t really mean it (a patently false narrative), that he didn’t go far enough and drop other legislation they don’t like (an argument you can make, I guess, but so what?), or that he didn’t look cheerful enough at his news conference in Ottawa.
The latter point is just pathetic. What was the prime minister supposed to do? Dance a jig? If he’d done that, these nabobs of negativity would have complained he was nothing but a flaky drama teacher!
The general tone was set by the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid, who had the cheek to publish his attack on the prime minister for doing what the columnist had demanded before the decision had even been announced. “Ottawa won’t deserve Alberta’s thanks for pipeline OK,” barked the headline, neatly summarizing this province’s inevitably ungracious reaction to anything Mr. Trudeau does.
But the idea yesterday’s decision was a strategic masterstroke by the Liberals, long faces and all, is based on the assumption there is a middle left in Canada, and that we’re not becoming as polarized as Donald Trump’s America thanks to the efforts of those now-worried conservative bloviators.
It certainly assumes that no one is paying any attention any more to what Mr. Trudeau said the last time his cabinet approved the TMX, back on Nov. 29, 2016 – to wit, that “we could not have approved this project without the leadership of Premier (Rachel) Notley and Alberta’s climate leadership plan.”
“We said that major pipelines could only get built if we had a price on carbon and strong environmental protection in place,” Mr. Trudeau said then. His assembled cabinet ministers that day, then including Jody Wilson-Reybould, didn’t look all that cheerful either, whatever that meant.
For those who do remember such things, this would suggest that Liberal talk is as cheap as gasoline in Edmonton after Premier Jason Kenney tore up the NDP’s carbon levy.
And there are plenty of people in parts of Canada that, unlike Alberta and Saskatchewan, are inclined to vote Liberal in a pinch, who now likely won’t.
They won’t vote for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives either, of course. But this does suggest that if Jagmeet Singh and the NDP can’t come up soon with a compelling pitch, a lot of them are going to vote for Elizabeth May’s Green Party of Canada, perhaps providing it with the breakthrough Ms. May keeps predicting.
Well, like I say, it’s too soon to tell. I’ve been wrong about this stuff before, but you’d have to put me in the group that wonders if Mr. Trudeau has just blown it all to smithereens.
Two things are guaranteed, though:
- Building a bigger pipeline to “new markets” via the West Coast will never raise the price of Alberta bitumen as long as the law of supply and demand remains in effect.
- Shipping more bitumen from Alberta’s tarsands through a bigger pipe to whatever markets will buy it will not lower Canada’s carbon emissions.
St. Albert MP threatens to sue former classmates over allegations
The CBC reported yesterday that Conservative Michael Cooper was threatening to sue two of his former law school classmates for publicly alleging the St. Albert-Edmonton MP once made disparaging comments about immigrants from places insufficiently steeped in Judeo-Christian values.
But first the CBC reported the two other lawyers’ allegations at length, a story you can read for yourselves here. The lawyers quoted by the CBC said they decided to go public after reading of Mr. Cooper’s behaviour before the House of Commons Justice Committee on May 28.
Mr. Cooper told the CBC he recalled the class discussion 11 years ago, but denied making the comments. “I have instructed my counsel to take all necessary legal measures,” he warned.
Politically alert residents of Mr. Cooper’s riding are advised to keep an eye on how the threatened legal action unfolds. Threatening to sue for defamation can be a tricky strategy for politicians, as Justin Trudeau discovered recently when he said he planned to sue Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer for comments he made during the days of the SNC-Lavalin brouhaha was bedeviling the prime minister.
Mr. Scheer, of course, was the understanding boss who gently tapped Mr. Cooper on the wrist in late May for his offensive performance before the Justice Committee, in which he read into the record the anti-Muslim screed of the terrorist who murdered 51 people in March as they prayed in their mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand yesterday, a judge sentenced a Christchurch white supremacist to 21 months in prison for sharing a banned video of the terrorist attack. New Zealand has also banned publication the terrorist’s rambling manifesto, the one Mr. Cooper read to the committee.