Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why are people surprised by political expediency?

So, Michael Ignatieff has criticised a National Geographic article that was somewhat critical of the Alberta Oil Sands. He has actually defended the Oil Sands. The response from some Liberals has been surprise and consternation. How could he they ask?

What did they expect?

If they wanted a green leader many more Liberals should have supported the last one. He was greener than the Greens but he was subjected to the death of a thousand cuts by his own party and then dealt the final cut by an election, which he fought using a green initiative as the centrepiece of this campaign.

Some have said that he was defeated by the notion of a tax but that tax was in context of a green plan. Canadians consistantly stated that they were concerned about green issues up until that election but when it came time to really act on that concern they rejected the Liberal Green Shift in record numbers.

If anybody believes that the Liberals in general and Mr. Ignatieff in particular did not notice that outcome they are being really naive. The environment is dead as a winning political issue. That is particularly true now that we are in a recession that still shows no signs of easing up. The economy and jobs are what is on peoples minds and any political party or political leader that does not recognize that reality is not going to be very successful.

Development of the Alberta Oil Sands will be curtailed in the coming months but it will not be the result of any action by any politician, either on this side or the other side of the Canada/US border. It will be the result of lower oil prices and the continued credit crunch.

Which brings me to President Obama. Many Liberals are hoping that he will be the one to finally bring about change in the Oil Sands. He will introduce a hard cap-and-trade system they say that will cause Premier Stelmach's and Mr. Harper's heads to explode.

Don't count on it. Oh, he will probably make the proposal for one but it will still need to be approved by Congress.

We all know that a cap-and-trade system will cost business and industry alot of money. During an economic downturn it will not be too difficult for Big Oil and many other industries to argue that such a system would be too costly and a job killer. They will begin a lobbying and a public relations campaign, ironically, partially funded from the money from President Obama's stimulus package, aimed at Congress.

Every Congressman and a large number of Senators will be facing voters in less than two years. They will have the disadvantage of doing so during an economic downturn to begin with and any suggestion of them supporting a plan easily depicted as something that will make job losses worse is a non-starter.

By that election some of the lustre of the Obama Presidency will have worn off. It is inevitable and in order for President Obama to push through any kind of environmental package he will have to compromise. In other words, he will have to water down his principles for the sake of political expediency.

Political expediency on both sides of the border will prevail when it comes to the Oil Sands. Not much more that token measure will be enacted to curtail their development and Liberals better get used to that fact.

2 Comments:

Blogger Steve V said...

Dion couldn't sell beer on the beach, that was the problem. Quit blaming the party for his terrible ability to do retail politics effectively. That's the bottomline, everything else is just excuses. Love the guy, but keep it real.

February 26, 2009 7:34 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

Steve:

That answer is why I washed my hands of the Liberal Party months ago.

Certainly, Mr. Dion was not the best leader but his party never really gave him a chance either. They share much of the responsibility for that debacle and the fact most Liberals will not admit that shows that the party and many of its members do not have as much class as I thought they did.

Not that any of that really has anything to do with my post.

The environment is dead as a political issue for the foreseeable future. Mr. Ignatieff realizes that and he has adjusted. Good on him for recognizing that reality. He will suffer very little for it.

February 26, 2009 9:07 PM  

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