Today was the big day of Obama's visit to Canada. And we discovered just how vulnerable Harper is to the whim of the White House.
During the press conference today, Harper explained his heel-dragging on environmental policy: "Canada has had great difficulty developing an effective regulatory regime alone in the context of an integrated continental economy. It's very hard to have a tough regulatory system here when we are competing with an unregulated economy south of the border."
That was honest and revealing. It shows that Harper was at least unable and probably unwilling to use the levers at his disposal to advance environmental policy. Canada is America's largest oil supplier. Most think it's Venezuela, or Saudi Arabia. In fact, Canada supplies about 1 million barrels of oil per day more than each of Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. We are its most visible and respectable ally in Afghanistan, the Right War. We are the top uranium and potash producer in the world, and in the top three for natural gas, nickel, zinc, and asbestos. All of this gives us incredible leverage when negotiating with the world's most voracious economy (maybe being edged out by China now).
We can find other markets. Naturally, we preferred our likeminded and deep-pocketed neighbours. It is in the US's interest to find suppliers that are politically and economically stable. Preferably lickspittle sycophants who parrot your policy du jour.
So now Harper is going to get tough on the environment because he has finally found some coattails attached to someone headed in that direction. Well good for him. But pardon me if I don't find Harper's Change something I can Believe in.