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Tom Mulcair got himself elected leader of the federal New Democratic Party on a promise he would bring hard-headed realism and a centrist political ethic to the job. He was to be, it was murmured at the time, the NDP’s Tony Blair.
As it turns out, there’s little indeed of Blair’s famous economic pragmatism in Mulcair. He talks the talk but, when push comes to shove, quacks like a duck. Currently, the NDP leader is tromping with big, gnarled feet all over the delicate buds of the Keystone XL pipeline. Criticism of his criticisms, while on a recent Washington D.C. trip, he dismisses as Conservative hypocrisy. All opposition leaders attack the governing party’s positions when travelling overseas!
Except, that Keystone and the issues tied to it are not just political baubles to be toyed with. These are fundamental, shared economic problems – the greatest Canadians now face. The Obama administration’s pending approval or rejection will affect us all from coast to coast to coast, for many years to come. And much of Mulcair’s rhetoric about Keystone is either poorly researched, half-true or spun-up by ideological assumptions that do not hold up for a second in the cold light of day.
First let’s address the idea that Alberta’s nefarious Big Oil oligarchs are foisting oilsands development on a reluctant Eastern Canada, whose citizens will only suffer as the resultant global warming turns James Bay into a gigantic hot tub. This is the putative value proposition: Albertans benefit economically from the oilsands, but the rest of us are harmed. Why should their interests subsume ours?
Nonsense. The Conference Board of Canada found in a report last October (Fuel for Thought: The Economic Benefits of Oil Sands Developments for Canada’s Regions) that $100 billion has been invested in the oilsands in the past decade. But that is dwarfed by the $364 billion in price-adjusted investment expected between now and 2035. That breaks down, according to the report’s authors, as 880,000 person-years of employment stemming directly from investment, and an additional supply-chain effect of 1.45 million person-years.
That’s 3,970 person-years of employment per billion spent, not only in the obvious industries, such as oilfield services, but also in professional services, manufacturing, wholesale trade, financial services and transportation.
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/03/17/michael-den-tandt-ndp-leader-thomas-mulcairs-anti-keystone-rhetoric-based-on-ideological-assumptions/