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OTTAWA — The kids on Twitter were onside with Justin Trudeau’s call to decriminalize pot, but what will they make of his latest policy stance – that the CNOOC acquisition of Calgary oil company Nexen is “good for Canada”?
Opinion polls consistently show the public opposes the deal, but in an op-ed for Postmedia newspapers to coincide with a campaign stop in Calgary Tuesday, the Liberal leadership front-runner said that he supports the $15-billion deal because Chinese investment will create middle-class Canadian jobs.
“Foreign investment raises productivity and hence living standards for Canadian families. More fundamentally, it is in Canada’s interests to broaden and deepen our relationship with the world’s second largest economy,” he said.
Amen to all that. But it is somewhat surprising coming from a candidate that polls suggest could become Prime Minister, as long as he continues to mouth vacuous tinsel about hope and change. Very brave, as Sir Humphrey might have put it on Yes, Minister.
It seems Mr. Trudeau can’t resist frustrating his critics, be it in the boxing ring, or in the political arena. Just days after Martha Hall Findlay entered the leadership race with the provocative taunt: “It’s not good enough to talk about values and principles,” Mr. Trudeau has come forth with a bold call for a more coherent strategy to diversify our trade away from the United States and open up Asian markets.
As with his previous visit to Alberta, when he said “not a country in the world would find 170 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there,” he suggested the national interest is best served by developing Canada’s fossil fuel bounty.
He is conscious of not disillusioning the vociferous Liberal green wing by mentioning once again he thinks the Northern Gateway pipeline to export oilsands crude off the West Coast is a “bad idea.” He proclaims his default position to be in favour of pipelines, just not this one. That’s not really good enough – if a central plank of your platform is to expand trade with Asia, yet you oppose the principal route to export oil to that market, it behooves you to come up with an alternative.
Mr. Trudeau’s team points out that trade is not all about oil, but quite a lot of it is. According to the National Energy Board, of Canada’s $405-billion in merchandise exports in 2010, $94-billion were energy sales and gross crude export revenues were $50-billion.
Still, it’s a relief to find that the Liberal Party is concerned about generating wealth, not just spending it. The Trudeau strategy appears based on research findings that underpinned Michael Ignatieff’s campaign in the last election (even if the leader then veered left, instead of right) – namely, that the middle class feels itself under siege.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/11/19/john-ivison-trudeau-shows-hes-got-guts-bucks-vacuous-image-to-embrace-oilsands/