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Brian Mulroney didn’t come to Ottawa to bury Stephen Harper. But he didn’t come to praise him either. The former prime minister was in the capital to speak about the “next big thing” for Canada — making the most of its treasure trove of oil, gas and mineral resources.
To do so requires political leadership, Mr. Mulroney said, and he was pretty clear he doesn’t think Mr. Harper has been providing it.“Prime ministers are not chosen to seek popularity, they are chosen to provide leadership,” he told the audience at the Canada 2020 dinner. “Leadership is the process, not only of foreseeing the need for change but making the case for change. Leadership does not consist of imposing unpopular ideas on the public but of making unpopular ideas acceptable to the nation.”
Mr. Mulroney knows about popularity — or lack of it. “Popularity is bad for you. I try to avoid it like the plague and I’ve been reasonably successful,” he said, back in 1992 when his personal numbers dipped to the lowest ever recorded for a prime minister.
But he was expressing a frustration that is becoming a common refrain from visitors to the capital. Jim Prentice, the former Conservative environment minister, made a similar point recently about the need to get pipelines built, develop alternative markets to the United States and beat back state-level fuel standards designed to keep oilsands oil from the American market.
‘There are days frankly when we seem to be like the fellow who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple,” said Mr. Mulroney.
“We take too much of what we have for granted believing mistakenly that our vast resources will generate prosperity just by being there.”
He said Canada needs the Keystone XL pipeline approved.
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