Key takeaways from the Keystone rejection – by Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail – November 11, 2015)

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.

If the Republicans win the next presidential election, the Keystone XL pipeline might yet be built. But if Hillary Clinton, the almost-certain Democratic nominee, becomes president, then Keystone will get its last rites, given that she recently opposed the project.

What lessons can we learn from President Barack Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL last week? Here are a few, but by no means all.

U.S. politics will trump Canada-U.S. relations every time. The idea that somehow Canada’s historical relations and friendship with the United States will induce a president to give priority to relations with Canada when domestic U.S. politics are at play fundamentally misunderstands Washington and how little Canada counts there.

The Obama administration strung Canada along for five years over Keystone, hardly the way to treat a “friend.”

Mr. Obama lacks any interest in or concern for Canada, having visited here only once early in his presidency. He had very distant relations with former prime minister Stephen Harper who, in turn, did nothing to cultivate personal relations with U.S. political figures.

That Justin Trudeau, the new Prime Minister, should expend much effort on cultivating Mr. Obama would be a pro-forma exercise. Mr. Obama is approaching lame-duck status as President.

We saw U.S. attitudes recently with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, when Washington negotiated a side deal with Japan for automobile parts, behind the backs of Canada and Mexico.

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