Stephen Harper can approve the Northern Gateway proposal, but that doesn't mean it will ever be built. With 130 First Nations and two-thirds of B.C. voters vote against it, Enbridge has no clear legal or democratic avenue to proceed. But approving oil tankers on the North Coast would have one sure result: it would inflict serious damage to the Conservatives in B.C.
Like Lady Edith of the hit series Downtown Abbey, Prime Minister Harper must feel frustrated that Obama expects him to stand aside while the U.S. courts China and simultaneously wait around for a decision on Keystone. Worse still, there is the fear that Chinese interest in Canada is only a ploy, Beijing using Ottawa to spark Obama's jealousy and get Washington's attention.