‘Foreign money’ is a hypocritical diversion – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – January 11, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

It has been rich, even comic, to listen to the Harper government blasting away at “foreign money,” “radical groups” and Hollywood movie stars for interfering in the environmental review of the Northern Gateway pipeline that’s just starting.

Of course, such people and their money have entered the fray in Canada. It isn’t the first time (think of U.S. interventions against cutting old-growth forests in B.C.) and it won’t be the last. We live in a global world, and we share a continent with the U.S. (and Mexico) where one country’s decisions can affect the continent and planet.

Think back to last year, and the ones before that. TransCanada Pipelines sought U.S. approval for the Keystone XL pipeline to ship oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Regulatory hearings were required. Ultimately, the State Department (read: President Barack Obama’s administration) had to decide.

To influence U.S. opinion, both at the level of legislators and the general public, Canadian companies poured untold millions into the fray. They papered Washington with lobbyists, including someone who was once high up in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination and two former U.S. ambassadors to Canada. The Harper government put Canada’s entire diplomatic apparatus in the U.S. behind the Keystone campaign. The Prime Minister himself went to the U.S. and declared approval of Keystone a “no-brainer.”

These “radicals” (that is, Canadian business-at-any-cost types) and “foreign money” (read: Canadian dollars) intervened directly in the U.S. regulatory and political processes, as “foreign” interests often do to further their economic advantage. So to hear Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Prime Minister Stephen Harper railing against “foreign” (read: American) intervention in the Gateway hearings is, shall we say, a bit rich. What’s sauce for the goose really should be sauce for the gander.

The Harper government also took great public offence at the Obama administration’s decision to delay its verdict on Keystone pending further environmental studies in Nebraska, despite proponents changing the route. Mr. Harper hinted darkly that, if Americans didn’t want Canada’s oil, then someone else – presumably the Chinese – would.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/jeffrey-simpson/foreign-money-is-a-hypocritical-diversion/article2297904/

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