Yikes! Mitt might win. Get ready to roll out the oil barrel – by Thomas Walkom (Toronto Star – October 25, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

President Mitt Romney? Get used to the idea. A few weeks ago, it seemed almost inconceivable that the gaffe-prone Republican challenger could snatch America’s presidency away from smooth, cool Barack Obama.

Canadians in particular are partial to Obama. A recent BBC poll estimated that roughly 65 per cent of people in this country prefer him to Romney, making Canada the fifth-most pro-Obama nation in the world (after France, Australia, Kenya and Nigeria).

And Romney? To casual observers, he’s the guy who drove to Grand Bend with his dog strapped to the roof of his car, the plutocrat who dismissed almost half of his own country as layabouts, the crass opportunist who swung hard right to secure the Republican nomination and is now tacking hard-centre to win the general election.

Romney may be all of that. But if U.S. polling is correct, he’s also riding a high from the televised presidential debates and — failing a last-minute Obama surge — could well end up winning on Nov. 6.

For Canadians, a Romney victory would be felt first on the energy front. Indeed, the only place where Canada gets a campaign mention by Romney is in his promise to achieve “North American energy independence” by 2020.

Romney wants the U.S. to import more Canadian (and Mexican) oil in order to lessen America’s dependence on the Middle East. To that end, he would hurry ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline, a project aimed at bringing Alberta tar-sands oil into the U.S.

Canada and Mexico now account for 37 per cent of America’s energy imports. Romney wants to raise that to 100 per cent within eight years — in part by increasing domestic U.S. oil and gas production, but in part by getting more from Canada and Mexico.

Assuming that Prime Minister Stephen Harper went along (and there is no reason to think he won’t), this would put paid to Ottawa’s efforts to diversify Canada’s energy exports away from the U.S. and towards China.

A Romney victory would call into question the need for the proposed Enbridge heavy oil pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. It would also almost certainly squelch Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s hope of creating a national Canadian energy strategy to ship Alberta oil eastward in order to eliminate Central Canada’s dependence on foreign crude. And it would affect plans to ship liquefied natural gas to Japan.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1276711–walkom-yikes-mitt-might-win-get-ready-to-roll-out-the-oil-barrel