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Embracing Nexen Deal? Trudeau Prefers Shock Factor to Leadership

Posted: 11/20/2012 12:53 pm

Why do political handlers confuse contrarianism with "substance"?

The Justin Trudeau campaign, keen to put to bed allegations of its candidate being a lightweight, just put out an opinion piece embracing the takeover of Nexen by China's state owned CNOOC.

Unexpected, eh? It must therefore be substantive.

It doesn't help that the federal Liberal Party is still running against Stephan Dion. That whole green thing was a temporary hiccup. Best now to cosy up to the tar sands to prove it.

Don't worry about throwing those Katimavik-style hopes and dreams of the next generation under the bus. They'll need to take cover there anyway as Sandy after Sandy bears down on them, in between droughts, that is.

It also doesn't help that the other "serious" Liberal candidate, Martha Hall Findlay, is also wanting to out-substance Trudeau also with shallow contrarianism. Supply side management? We're against it. Surprise! Now, take us more seriously. And, screw those thousands of Canadian dairy farmers -- it's not like they're part of that middle class we keep talking about representing, right?

And, before this turns into Liberal-bashing, the federal NDP is also at risk of falling into the same trap. By wanting to be seen as pro-trade, they tip-toe around deals cut by the Conservatives to give corporations even more rights to beat back democratically-elected governments at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels instead of calling them out for what they are. When did "pro trade" end up meaning "anti-democracy?" And, when did we become numb to this in our national political discourse?

To progressive politicians of all stripes: being substantive means more than being contrarian and saying the unexpected -- it means levelling with Canadians about the real challenges and opportunities in front of us. For example, it means:

  • Taking our heads out of the sands on climate change. The math is stark, but Canada is blessed with massive untapped renewable energy potential. Let's embrace that so that we can face our kids and grandkids. Yes, this means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
  • Capping the tar sands where it is. Alberta is already booming and facing growing pains -- who in the heck benefits by doubling and tripling? China maybe, but not Canada. We don't need to expand. Expansion may serve the interests of the oil industry, but not of Canadians. It would be a relief to end the battle that growing this industry means.
  • Making stuff instead of just digging stuff up. Canada is losing hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and lagging behind on innovation. We already have emerging regional disparities with Ontario and Quebec suffering. We need to stand up to those who want to silence this conversation by name calling.
  • Making trade be about trade, and not new powers for corporations. Why are we giving companies more rights to sue democratically elected bodies for doing what their voters want? This is akin to changing our constitution, only without asking anybody about it first.
  • Not wrapping up your pet agenda by co-opting the Occupy message. Suddenly everyone (or here, or here) is about the 99%, or more softly, the "middle class." This then becomes meaningless as the various parties dress up their usual stuff in this clothing. How about a real debate involving the actual middle class -- including dairy farmers, even -- about what they want to see?

Serious stuff. Substantive, even. Who knows, a real debate about Canada with real options beyond the current narrow bandwidth may open up and engage Canadians in politics again. Goodness knows that what's currently on offer isn't exactly inspiring.

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  • Surprising Justin Trudeau Facts

    With talk of Trudeau making a bid for the Liberal leadership reaching a fever pitch (again), HuffPost takes a look at some surprising facts about Canada's perpetual PM-in-waiting. (CP)

  • 11. Politics On Mother's Side Too

    Trudeau's maternal grandfather <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Sinclair_(politician)" target="_hplink">James Sinclair</a> was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in Louis St.-Laurent's government in the 1950s. (House of Commons) <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide incorrectly said Sinclair was a Progressive Conservative MP.</em>

  • 10. Born In Office

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau was only the second child ever to be born while a parent was prime minister</a>. The first was John A. Macdonald's youngest daughter Margaret Mary Macdonald. Trudeau's younger brothers, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel were the third and fourth. (CP)

  • 9. Educated Enough?

    Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. He also studied engineering at the Université de Montréal and environmental geography at McGill, but never finished degrees in those fields.

  • 8. Enemies To Friends

    While fathers Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau were rivals, sons Justin and Ben are friends. Mulroney attended Trudeau's wedding to Sophie Grégoire. Grégoire has worked as Quebec correspondent for CTV's eTalk, which is hosted by Mulroney. (CP)

  • 7. Let Them Eat Anything But Cake

    Trudeau didn't have cake at his wedding, with <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Sophie arguing that people never eat it anyway</a>. (Shutterstock)

  • 6. Born On Christmas

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau entered the world on December 25, 1971</a>.

  • 5. Two Tattoos In One

    Trudeau has a large tattoo on his left shoulder. <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/justinpjtrudeau/statuses/179973685136998400" target="_hplink">The planet Earth inside a Haida raven</a>. Trudeau got the globe tattoo when he was 23 and the raven when he turned 40. (Media Ball)

  • 4. Keeping It In The Family

    Trudeau and his wife Sophie have two children, Xavier James (4) and Ella-Grace Margaret (3). Both are partially named after family.<a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/4970--the-littlest-trudeau" target="_hplink"> Xavier James is named after Trudeau's maternal grandfather James Sinclair</a> (the politician) and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Gr%C3%A9goire" target="_hplink">Ella-Grace Margaret is named after Trudeau's mother Margaret and Grace Elliot, Trudeau's paternal grandmother</a>. Xavier also happens to share a birthday with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (CP)

  • 3. Politician And Actor

    <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0846011/" target="_hplink">Trudeau played Talbot Mercer Papineau</a> in the 2007 CBC miniseries "The Great War."

  • 2. .. And Video Game Star

    <a href="http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/06/in-deus-ex-justin-trudeau-is-the-pm-and-canada-has-a-problem-with-illegal-immigrants-from-the-u-s/" target="_hplink">Trudeau is prime minister in the dystopian future portrayed in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution</a>. (CP)

  • 1. Childhood Sweathearts

    Sophie used to visit the Trudeau family home when she was a child. She was a classmate and friend of Trudeau's youngest brother Michel, who died tragically in a B.C. avalanche in 1998. Justin and Sophie made contact again at a fundraiser in 2003 and soon after began dating. <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Trudeau was so smitten</a> that he declared they would spend the rest of their lives together on the very first date. (CP)


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  • 10. Oil And Gas Accounts For 4.8 Per Cent Of GDP

    The oil and gas industries accounted for around $65 billion of economic activity in Canada annually in recent years, or slightly less than 5 per cent of GDP. Source: <a href="http://www.ceri.ca/docs/2010-10-05CERIOilandGasReport.pdf" target="_hplink">Canada Energy Research Institute</a>

  • 9. Oil Exports Have Grown Tenfold Since 1980

    Canada exported some 12,000 cubic metres of oil per day in 1980. By 2010, that number had grown to 112,000 cubic metres daily. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=9&SheetID=224" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 8. Refining Didn't Grow At All As Exports Boomed

    Canada refined 300,000 cubic metres daily in 1980; in 2010, that number was slightly down, to 291,000, even though exports of oil had grown tenfold in that time. Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=7&SheetID=104" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 7. 97 Per Cent Of Oil Exports Go To The U.S.

    Despite talk by the federal government that it wants to open Asian markets to Canadian oil, the vast majority of exports still go to the United States -- 97 per cent as of 2009. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 6. Canada Has World's 2nd-Largest Proven Oil Reserves

    Canada's proven reserves of 175 billion barrels of oil -- the vast majority of it trapped in the oil sands -- is the second-largest oil stash in the world, after Saudi Arabia's 267 billion. Source: <a href="http://www.ogj.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Oil & Gas Journal</a>

  • 5. Two-Thirds Of Oil Sands Bitumen Goes To U.S.

    One-third of Canada's oil sands bitumen stays in the country, and is refined into gasoline, heating oil and diesel. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 4. Alberta Is Two-Thirds Of The Industry

    Despite its reputation as the undisputed centre of Canada's oil industry, Alberta accounts for only two-thirds of energy production. British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the second and third-largest producers. Source: <a href="http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/statistics-facts/energy/895" target="_hplink">Natural Resources Canada</a>

  • 3. Alberta Will Reap $1.2 Trillion From Oil Sands

    Alberta' government <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/27/alberta-oil-sands-royalties-ceri_n_1382640.html" target="_hplink">will reap $1.2 trillion in royalties from the oil sands over the next 35 years</a>, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

  • 2. Canadian Oil Consumption Has Stayed Flat

    Thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and a weakening of the country's manufacturing base, oil consumption in Canada has had virtually no net change in 30 years. Consumption went from 287,000 cubic metres daily in 1980 to 260,000 cubic metres daily in 2010. Source: Source: <a href="http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=6&SheetID=99" target="_hplink">Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers</a>

  • 1. 250,000 Jobs.. Plus Many More?

    The National Energy Board says oil and gas employs 257,000 people in Canada, not including gas station employees. And the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the oil sands alone <a href="http://www.capp.ca/aboutUs/mediaCentre/NewsReleases/Pages/OilsandsaCanadianjobcreator.aspx" target="_hplink">will grow from 75,000 jobs to 905,000 jobs by 2035</a> -- assuming, of course, the price of oil holds up.

 
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