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Now the hard part: waiting for U.S. hints

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Canada's dependence on Obama is enormous and our margin for manoeuvring on key files is small — smaller by our own timidity. ...Read the full article

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  1. M. M. Pavan from Vancouver, Canada writes: It would have grated my nerves a lot less if Simpson refered to "some Canadians", or even specified a subgroup, like the Conservatives, for his "timid" and "waiting for" tags. There are PLENTY of people in this country, and even of those in power, who are not timid, and are not waiting for Mr. Obama, but are shouted down by the MSM and the dominant power interests of the day. It really truly p***es me off when the failures of a particular group are ascribed to the entire country. Simpson is not alone among journalists, so he is not being singled out. But his writing almost never offers any examples to the contrary. Canada is a big place, with lots of opinions. It would be nice if they woke up to that fact.
  2. Owen Abrey from Cranbrook, Canada writes: There are things Obama wants for his country. What isn't clear is whether Canada has it.

    Obama wants a viable social medicare system. Canada has one, but the question is about whether it is really a viable, portable system. Canada's system is very expensive in that it consumes perhaps 40% of our tax base. It is of the same relative cost as the US military. I don't think the US would consider trading its military budget for a medical system.

    Obama wants wealthy nations to share its prosperity with the impoverished nations of the world. Something we already do, but in an almost half-hearted way.

    Obama wants a world away from the consumptive hydrocarbon dependency we in North America are addicted to. We want it to continue to our benefit. The US will balance a desire for higher costs for hydrocarbons which will hurt us, because that will likely come through taxation on their side of the border. This will necessarily mean a depressive direction for prices here, and that will be the more significant pressure on the relatively high cost of oil sands production. So while Canada will wistfully want some protections on the industry, it will not be forth-coming.

    It will be as tenuous as the likelihood Canada will commit to extending its Afganistan role.

    The mutual angst will typify the relationship. Expect tokanism. Canada will create a park or two on the US border, to appear greener. The US will enact a punative cap and trade system to appear greener as well. And Canada, the buffer zone of yesteryear on the boundaries of the old Soviet Union, will need to return to being hewers of wood and drawers of water but not oil.
  3. Randal Oulton from Toronto, Canada writes: >> If not, Canada will fast develop a reputation in his administration as the guest always placed at the far end of the table.

    There's nothing wrong with that. After all, we've seen what's happened to countries that America has noticed.
  4. B. G. Bailey from Canada writes: Oh we have something to put on the table with the new president.

    It might go like this: "Mr. Obama, we have this ecological sewer in northern Alberta that needs to be cleaned up, big time. Got any ideas how to do this and keep your SUVs on the road?"
  5. D Epp from Canada writes: Here's how it seems to me: Harper arranged for parliament to be suspended because he and his band of sycophants have no idea how to govern. They only know what system they want to put into place, and they can't do it with a minority government.

    It wouldn't matter that they don't know how to manage the country in this current economic situation if they had no opposition. But, Harper's arrogance got in the way, he pushed things too far in trying to eliminate the opposition, and didn't plan for the consequences.

    Harper desperately wants to have a government like that of the U.S. where he could make the rules without fear of opposition stopping him - just like Bush did for many years.

    So, now our country's ability to deal with a severe economic crisis has been put on ice until President Obama is in place and can tell them what to do - that's why things were prorogued until a week after the inauguration.

    Mr. Obama has so many more pressing issues to deal with - but he'll have to deal with Canada's minority "leader" asking him how to fix our country.

    Pathetic.
  6. Albin Forone from Canada writes: All will be well. It is enough for now, that we have survived to see the end of the sinister regime of Vice-President Caligari and his Somnambulist Commander in Chief.
  7. Wayne Crockett from Toronto, Canada writes: It isn't just parochialism that animates the Harper government. Under the Bush regime Harper didn't believe in climate change, under Obama he does believe in it, sort of. It isn't that Harper takes orders from the White House, he just changes his coat to match whatever signals are coming from the south. He would make the perfect synchophatic assistant in an office or the local party boss in one of the Soviet Satellites in the 1970s.
  8. Ballin Munson from toronto, Canada writes: Canada is like Wal Mart. You may do most of your shopping there, but do you love it? Do you only shop there if is price competetive? You probably like a small, quirky store more, which supplies a hard to get item. Think say Cuba. You may drive a toyota because it is stable, and reliable. But you love all the oddities of the 1970 MGB you only take out on sunny Sundays. It breaks down, but it has your heart. Say Afghanistan. No, Canada, with all its' "me" issues offers nothing a US president needs (help internationally, and not just at conferences). Thinking because we trade with them, we rank high, is silly.
  9. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: Some observations:

    1) The US government would seem to have more power over important decisions in Canada than the Canadian one

    2) Canadians are far more interested in US politics than their own

    3) Far more Canadians stopped their work yesterday to watch the inauguration of B.O. than have probably ever watched a Canadian speech from the throne, budget, etc.

    4) Regionalism within Canada is such that most people would rather see another region lose something significant rather than make even a small sacrifice for the good of the country as a whole.

    5) Canada does not really matter to the US, the US is of vital importance to Canada on virtually ever single issue we face. (Compare all the attention in the media here over Obama's visit with this CNN article where Canada is dismissed as a 'immediate neighbor'--with their expectations on Obama's first European trip)

    If all of these are true, why to we kid ourselves that we actually some sort of important country in the world? If we want to amount to something we've got to drop the petty regionalism and move forward as one actual country. If we can't do that, I think we'd be better off joining the US.

    But then, we'd have to get rid of our ridiculous sense of superiority.
  10. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: Here's that CNN article I mentioned above:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.international.leaders/index.html
  11. Red Suspenders from I hope it's not always true that people get the government they deserve, writes: It is startling, really, how much we in Canada are waiting for him, and how much we are dependent on his decisions. Our dependence, in fact, is enormous, and our margin for manoeuvring on key files is small, and made smaller by our own timidity.

    Those last seven words should earn Mr Simpson another OC, in my opinion.
  12. Bill Smith from Canada writes: Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: If we want to amount to something we've got to drop the petty regionalism and move forward as one actual country. If we can't do that, I think we'd be better off joining the US. But then, we'd have to get rid of our ridiculous sense of superiority.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    They don't want us. I saw a poll a while ago on Canada joining the US. About 9% of the Canadians wanted it. Less than 2% of the yanks were for it. After of years of vocal anti-Americanism from our politicians on down that we would not tolerate if directed at another group, when Americans think of us at all it's usually in the negitive.
  13. R. M. from Canada writes: Well Mr. Simpson should get ready to eat some of his words, because I believe Mr. Harper as a cunning strategist is way ahead of us in so many moves. He knew exactly what kind of gridlock would ensue in this country when he pushed Mr. Dion. With his broad based information extraction, he even knows what the far left are doing right down to their planning sessions. Him being the one of two men who saw this downturn coming, even to the point of getting ready to balance his own personal financial portfolio. The attitude here is negative because he never gave us all a heads up, so we could get a chance to buy low as well. He is much revered in rural western Canada and rural Ontario. As the hard taskmasters this group are, if he is able to please them can it be any doubt he must have strong credentials when it comes to the worlds business. I think it is time the left leaning media cuts them slack.
  14. Red Suspenders from I hope it's not always true that people get the government they deserve, writes: Although details are scanty, the pact is really about trying to protect Alberta's tar sands from any U.S. environmental punishment.

    This I liked a little less -- they are Canada's tar sands. It's a bit unfortunate that successive premiers have been successful in putting too much emphasis on the divisions of the country rather than on the commonwealth.

    It's reasonable that any PM should be wary of impacts to our important industries, while taking into account environmental risks.
  15. S Balderick from Canada writes: The US is important to Canada, Canada is insignificant to the US.

    And here's why: because the USA recognises that there is a whole world out there to engage. Canada's mindset is one of North American insularity.

    The USA will always be more improtant to us than any other country, but it's time we opened our eyes to the world as a whole and see what other relationships there are that we can benefit from.
  16. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: Tell me again how this climate change works. It is -20C outside right now, there is about 30 cm of snow on the ground, the Arctic sea ice is back to 1979 size and growing, it will be about 20C next June and the snow will be gone. I remember this same scenario in 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999. Please explain, especially the part about taking money out of my wallet to solve these ongoing natural occurances and how the world will not need oil, especially tar sands oil for the next 50 - 100 years.

  17. Ballin Munson from toronto, Canada writes: Jordan W from Montreal ;

    a few days ago, I did a google search on "obama", and "canada", or "canada visit"

    It took until page 4 to find a non - canadian news source to show up - the Spokane Washington newspaper.

    Go to the NYT and others, and their sites yield no mention of it.

    'nuff said.
  18. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: Red Suspenders writes: This I liked a little less -- they are Canada's tar sands. It's a bit unfortunate that successive premiers have been successful in putting too much emphasis on the divisions of the country rather than on the commonwealth.

    While I agree with you, in 1867 the fathers of confederation decided that natural resources would be a provincial jurisdiction, so premiers have 'turf' to defend, hench the emphasis on regional differences.
  19. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: Tell me again how this climate change works. It is -20C outside right now, there is about 30 cm of snow on the ground, the Arctic sea ice is back to 1979 size and growing, it will be about 20C next June and the snow will be gone. I remember this same scenario in 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999. Please explain, especially the part about taking money out of my wallet to solve these ongoing natural occurances and how the world will not need oil, especially tar sands oil for the next 50 - 100 years.

    Fine ignore science completely. "Those crazy scientists dont know what they're talkin' 'bout, right? With all their newfangled ideas 'n' computers and such? Who do they think they are anyways? All predictin' some global warmin' and nonsense. Humbug."

    You can take that attitude if you want, but I'd imagine that the moment you need medical attention you'll suddenly trust the scientists a lot more.

    We don't have time on these boards to give you an education. I could suggest reams of papers for you to read but chances are they are all over your head. It is the great failure of the scientific community that results can't be effectively communicated to people like EJ Ravensbud. However, this fact does not negate said results.
  20. Tim Bryson from Claresholm, AB., Canada writes: Well said, Mr. Simpson. I would add the inaction on the Khadr file as well. Now that Obama is closing Gitmo, the ball is back in Harper's court. Will he finally show some leadership on this issue or will he continue to speak volumes with his silence?

    Wayne Crocket...nice analogy. I recall in 1989, when all those hard core Bolsheviks in eastern Europe suddenly became "social democrats" who, suddenly, had the the utmost respect for democracy and the rule law.

    EJ...here's the link to the International Panal on Climate Change...www.IPCC.org. Now run along and educate yourself.
  21. J.G. Wilson from Canada writes: The irony here is that Obama's inaugural address included a call to rise above everything that Stephen Harper doggedly and proudly stands for. And for his first foreign visit Obama gets to meet with precisely the sort of doofus he loathes.

    Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe Harper will be sick, or have one of his famous prior engagements that keep him from deeply embarassing us yet again.
  22. Comments closed, censored, hidden, deleted, disappeared from Mini Bush-Obamatieff village, Canada writes: "...Canada, of course - waits on Barack Obama... It is startling, really, how much we in Canada are waiting for him, and how much we are dependent on his decisions. Our dependence, in fact, is enormous, and our margin for manoeuvring on key files is small, and made smaller by our own timidity." --- Sounds as though one were talking about an adolescent. Or is it rather as though referring to an infant? --- Nothing startling there: all it says is that this country has no leaders. The current lot, like many others before it, shows no leadership: clueless, visionless, planless..... it leaves us leaderless. And Canadians seem to live it, would vote for that twice rather than once! --- We have become a pathetic model of a "country"... So as in Beckett's, we are waiting, waiting, waiting. --- That's how it all begins: "ESTRAGON: (giving up again). Nothing to be done." ( ... ) VLADIMIR: We're waiting for Godot."
  23. John Sexton from Toronto, Canada writes: EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes:
    Please explain, especially the part about taking money out of my wallet to solve these ongoing natural occurances and how the world will not need oil, especially tar sands oil for the next 50 - 100 years.
    ================

    How about this: Please explain- especially the part about taking money out of my wallet- how the tar sands could have been developed without government investment, R&D incentives, tax breaks, and the suspension of anything approaching a credible enforcement of environmental impact studies' recommendations. And when you're finished with that, please then explain how further operation and development of the tar sands will go ahead with the price of oil at anywhere between 25 and 70 dollars a barrel, while our greatest trading partner to the south, mired in a deep recession, is anxious to wean that nation of its dependence on oil, and has set itself the task of finding alternate (perhaps less environmentally devastating) energy sources and supplies as one means to stimulate growth in its economy. Then, finally, explain- especially the part about NOT taking money out of my wallet- how the oil industry proposes to clean up the "world-class catastrophe" it has created in Alberta when the world decides it's time to get serious about toxic sludge, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, acid rain, what we used to call "smog" and climate change- with or without the help of an enlightened Canada.

    Yeah, it'll be a cold day in July all right.
  24. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: So Jordan and Tim the over 600 scientists that came out last week to dispell the myth of climate change are all wrong? Personally I am hoping for climate change to warm my geographical area, but it is not happening. Is it happening in your area?

  25. Les Caine from Canada writes: One of the Conservative ads during the last election showed a headline claiming that the Liberal Green Shift would violate NAFTA. But if the U.S. brings in something similar and we follow that's OK?

    Sovereignty is priceless!
  26. G S from Canmore, AB, Canada writes: Hey Jordan W: Right on with the points you bring up. Canada as a whole comes first, provinces and regions a distant second. Wake up Canadians, stop whining about the rest of the country and start working together.
  27. Ed Case from Kelowna, Canada writes: EJ: it would be appropriate to provide a link to the source of your assertion that 600 scientists are dispelling the myth of climate change. I did an advanced Google search over the last month and cannot find any such reference.
  28. S Balderick from Canada writes: EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: Personally I am hoping for climate change to warm my geographical area, but it is not happening. Is it happening in your area?
    ---------------------------------

    If you think climate change is about bringing Carribean type weather to Canada you have a serious misunderstanding of what climate change is and what its imapcts are.
  29. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: Ed, read Paul Schneidereit's column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, January 20, 2009. The number of dissenting scientists is over 650 and counting. He suggests Google references.

  30. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: S. Balderick, forget about Carribean weather with the heat and the hurricanes, I would be happy with a northern Pennsylvania climate- moderate winters and warm summers.
  31. Dan Green from Palm Beach Gardens FL, United States writes: Have spent many years working with Canadians. Think both countries would agree, we are in a financial crisis. Both economies are running, based on consumer consumption, on borrowed money. The governments on both sides of the border, think we need the Banks to extend , loosen up, more credit. If no one is in the mood to buy anything, as their net worth has decined, who in a consumer consumption economy, is going to use the new line of credit. When neighbors have a common problem, they usually help each other. This is going to be a tough one for Canada, Our economies are tied at the hip, tough to reverse that. Canadians I learned, first order of priority, is to keep their distance, from the Elephant to the south. As for energy and your petrol currency, that is understandly a tough one re energy policy. Canada often operates as a dominion, with strong provincal influence, over fast spans of geography. While any more integration with the USA, would be a disater, I think this crisis will be, every man on his own. Point is, don't wait for one man, our new Pres, make your own rules and laws, in your own best interest. If one country ends up needing something the other has to sell, it will evolve.
  32. S Balderick from Canada writes: Still not the point. Climate change is due to an increased global mean temperature, but this does not manifest itself as an overall shift upward of temperatures as they are.

    Rather it results in greater temperature extremes and less predictability. So really, the colder winter is actually in tune with what climate change proponents are putting forward.

    The extremes have dire economical and health consequences, especially when it comes to our food supply.
  33. Ed Long from Canada writes: Simpson is just chewing his cud.

    Iraq has done America a favor by requesting foreign troops cease patrolling their cities by year end and be out of the country by 2011.

    I guess Simpson missed the 30,000 American troops to begin surge tactics, similar to Iraq, that will not doubt end with a total pull-out in 2011. The surge has nothing to do with Canadian policy.

    There is an obvious timeline for the Mid-east.

    Climate Change?? Arnie is on the verge of going broke. Campbell is pushing the climate secretariat down the ladder and the lead bureaucrat has been re-assigned. Simpson's book, Hot Air, is 34% off and in the sale bin. Need I say more.

    Gitmo? The first move is to suspend all trials, there are 20 in progress, until May.

    Do we have a generation of leaders that intuitively put things on the back burner or take a holiday when decisions become tough??
  34. Steve French from Windsor (Flint, North), Canada writes: There will be no 'total withdrawal' from Iraq. The U.S. built a massive military base they will keep staffed with 10,000 soldiers in perpetuity, just like so many other countries, the colonial empire knows no bounds.
    Then the idiot in charge wants to ratchet up war in the stan again.
    Canada should tell him to take a hike.
    We don't need Yankistan, they need us for our vast supply of natural resources that we 'trade' for a handful of magic beans.
  35. NL Patriot from Republic of Newfoundland, Canada writes: S Balderick from Canada writes: Still not the point. Climate change is due to an increased global mean temperature, but this does not manifest itself as an overall shift upward of temperatures as they are.

    Rather it results in greater temperature extremes and less predictability. So really, the colder winter is actually in tune with what climate change proponents are putting forward.

    The extremes have dire economical and health consequences, especially when it comes to our food supply.

    ------

    That argument would be more convincing if they didn't have to change tactics. First they were calling it global warming and the arctic is melting and the whole world would be under water. Now that the arctic snow falls and ice has been stadily growing they change their approach to Climate Change and say the cold ttemperatures are indicitive of a warming of the earth. WOW!
  36. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: S. Balderick, we cannot take a 100, 500 or even thousand year snapshot and say man made climate change is occuring. Climate change occurs naturally and evolves due to natural events. Mount St. Helens was one example. I picked up seashells on the hills above the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories meaning that it was once a seabed. Lake Agassiz was the remains of a glacier which once covered most of North America. The Sahara desert was once tropical. Things change, but it takes thousands, millions of years. I believe we have many other things that should concern us other than climate change. This includes keeping the economy going to keep and create jobs for this and the next generation, eliminating world conflicts based on ethnic and religious differences and reducing our need for material gratification.
  37. The Continental from Toronto, Canada writes: Very accurate analysis. Although not to the same extent as the US during the Bush years, Canada has also lost sight of some important values that had made it a country with something to say on important issues. Sadly, as you stated, there is little contribution that Canada can give on most issues that Obama will face. Mr. Harper has gradually managed to erode the stature that Canada has built throughout the last few decades and abdicated any responsibility to the US administration. At a time when there were so many pressing issues to deal with in Canada and abroad, he was focusing on eliminating the subsidies that political parties get and telling the country that bad economic times provide a good investment opportunity. These, to me, summarized his qualities (or lack of): petty, ideological and lack of leadership.
  38. Ed Long from Canada writes: Steve French .... the large American military presence in Saudi Arabia is part of the deal wherein oil is traded to the U.S. bought through U.S. treasuries with the interest going to pay U.S. contractors for security, maintenance and construction projects that keep the House of Saud in power.

    Iraq would never agree to the same deal under Sadaam, and we will see if the current 'government' acquiesces.
  39. Auroran Bear from Montreal, Canada writes: This is an interesting article because it's essentially true. Standing away from political ideology, Canada has to stop wondering what others will expect of it and make the most of our corner of the earth.

    There is no reason the Fed and Provinces can't agree on a climate agreement..or whatever you want to call it. We don't need to latch onto a US agreement unless we really have no clue on our own.

    In terms of the economic landscape, this may take a generation or so and we probably should have started years earlier but Canada should be moving away from the auto industry or at least the big three as we know it. The critical mass already exists in the US and the industry here will always be hostage and play second fiddle to it. Why not concentrate on alternative energy transport industries or at least some element of the industry where we actually have a comparative advantage that isn't predicated on Canadian content.

    One area I am most disappointed in and that's with all leaders is our Arctic sovereignty. There will be tremendous opportunities there and we are doing little. We should be "acting as if" we already have sovereignty over it and be readily be developing plans and let the world see that we are doing so.

    C'mon Canada, we deserve much better.
  40. bill williams from Guelph from Canada writes: -

    Our pursuit of wealth from dirty oil in the face of world society that has recognized climate change as a threat is entirely emblematic of the way that we have shortened our vision and, as a consequence, our options. And the problem is worse than Simpson's description of it; it should be remembered that Obama's America has painted itself into a corner as well. He has little room to maneuver, and so the latitude that he might enjoy in helping us with our issues is constrained. For one, he recognizes that the world must get itself off the oil habit. In that context, clearly, heavy oil that requires enormous amounts of energy to produce WILL be vulnerable. There's no doubt about that. We can whine all we want, but that kind of petulance just signals to Obama that we don't 'get it', that we're not part of the solution (and if you're not part of the solution...), and that we have nothing to offer. He's a busy man. He's not going to invest a lot of time trying to figure out how to optimize a relationship that seems sterile.

    If we are all about the short term for us, HE will be all about the short term as regards us: "We'll buy their oil unless and until ... that's all they have on their mind. Oh well. Next item."

    If we had the latest in rail transport, alternative fuels, renewable energy, electric power grid technology, energy storage, green cars ... we would be players.

    Look at the C$ issue: We allowed our dollar to drift up and help kill manufacturing because of high oil prices and no wish to tax that wealth for the good of the country. Obama's answer - and he will be too polite and cool to put it in such stark terms- will be "OK guys, wear it."

    -
  41. S Balderick from Canada writes: NL Patriot from Republic of Newfoundland, Canada writes:

    That argument would be more convincing if they didn't have to change tactics. First they were calling it global warming and the arctic is melting and the whole world would be under water. Now that the arctic snow falls and ice has been stadily growing they change their approach to Climate Change and say the cold ttemperatures are indicitive of a warming of the earth. WOW!
    --------------------------------------

    There has been no change of tactic whatsoever. This has been the story all along. It was called global warming becuase the Earth's mean temperature has been consistently rising, and the effect of that rise over the long term is to melt the ice caps, as sign of long term effect.

    With the rise in MEAN temperature comes an increased variance in INDIVIDUAL temperatures, wrt time and geographic location.

    To put it in terms of basic statistics: a higher mean and larger standard deviation.

    That has been the story form the outset.
  42. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: bill williams, where has the world society recognized climate change as a threat? More than half of Europe believes it to be false and the Czech premier called it a farse. I believe the North American consensus, except for the Gores and Suzukis is the same. The climate change hysteria has already bankrupted California and more economic damage is ahead.
    You mentioned the Canadian dollar in the context that we need a low dollar to compete. Pretty poor for a leading industrial nation to depend on a weak currency to remain competitive.
    If our manufacturing base depends on the auto industry in the future we are in big trouble, meaning primarily southern Ontario. Bailing these companies out is short term and a waste of financial resources meant to provide employment for people lacking in skills that can be applied in future employment.
    It is not just government that got us into this fix, put the public including you and me that want more and more and are willing to contribute less and less.
  43. Ed Long from Canada writes: Amen, EJ Ravensbud.
  44. Comments closed, censored, hidden, deleted, disappeared from Mini Bush-Obamatieff village, Canada writes: Dan Green from Palm Beach Gardens FL, United States writes: "... I think this crisis will be, every man on his own. Point is, don't wait for one man, our new Pres, make your own rules and laws, in your own best interest. " --- Thanks for your post, Dan. I totally agree with you. Your message should be relayed to every household in this country, to every school, to every individual, including to those who can't read. --- I believe it is to be expected, and more than ever as this depression deepens with each passing day, that President Obama will, first and foremost, look after the interests of the United States. Should that not serve the best interests of Canada, tough. For President Obama, the United States ought to come first and first they will come. --- There are bold moves the US need to make, can make and will make, in order to be a leading country in the 21st century. Should complacent, reformed, conservative, reactionary Canada wish not to be left behind, it too will have to do walk the Obama path: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking ... CANADA." --- WE alone can stop "waiting for Godot" and accomplish that... assuming we are not already too decadent to even begin or to ever try.
  45. a brown from GoWest, Canada writes: What will be most interesting is Harper's Reform Conservatives and their climate change/energy sales pitch to Obama. I have a very strong belief it'll will be politley laughed off the table.

    Anyone watching Obama's inauguration yesterday saw and heard how committed he is to becoming a leader on fighting climate change while Harper and his cohorts still don't REALLLY believe the current crisis is largely man made and will require sustained human action to counter. What should prove most entertaining, though, will likely be found when the US institutes some form of carbon tax. A price will be put on releasing carbon into the atmosphere (much like Norway has been doing for the past decade).

    Certainly, right now President Obama touts a cap an trade soultion. Key people he has cjosen to lead this file, however, have written extensively on the need for a carbon tax as a component to any successful climate chaneg initiative.

    Harper and his Bush-lite clones are functioning in an alternative reality if they believe their selling points cribbed from tthe American Right still have a shelf life. They're in for a very rude awakening. Unfortunately, we have to tag along for the ride with these clowns.
  46. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: Comments, what do you mean by Conservative Canada? If you are referring to the name of our present government it does not wash as a comparison with the US Democratic Party which is far to the right politically of the Canadian Conservative Party. Obama used his left wing base to get elected against the Republican McCain who was more of a Democrat than a Republican. Already Obama is shifting to the right offending a good portion of his base. This will continue because Wall Street and business drives the American economy. Not everyone can work for the government.
  47. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: a brown, please get a reality check. When it comes to having a job and feeding your family climate change theory goes out the window. You may have bought the KoolAid, but most of us still see our climate change by looking out the window.
    When China and India buy into your theory let me know.
  48. Vincent Light from Calgary, Canada writes: Maybe i'm nitpicking, but Canada can be reached by land from the United State.
  49. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: " and entirely in keeping with the deeply parochial nature of the Harper government"

    If Mr. Simpson wants "deeply parochial" he need look no further than Obama's... and others in key positions in his administration... positions on Free Trade and NAFTA.

    If Obama follows through on any of what he said during his Presidential campaign you can safely write off what remains of Ontario's manufaturing industry.

    I'm forced to wonder if the Globe will still be as enamoured of Obama after that happens.
  50. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: @Steve French .... the large American military presence in Saudi Arabia is part of the deal wherein oil is traded to the U.S. bought through U.S. treasuries with the interest going to pay U.S. contractors for security, maintenance and construction projects that keep the House of Saud in power.

    Your theory would perhaps have a tad bit more credibility if US actually had a military presence in Saudia Arabia since 2003.

    They pulled all their troops out and moved them to Qatar 5 years ago.
  51. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: Correction to my last... comment should have been directed to Ed Long not Steve French.
  52. S Balderick from Canada writes: EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: a brown, please get a reality check. When it comes to having a job and feeding your family climate change theory goes out the window. You may have bought the KoolAid, but most of us still see our climate change by looking out the window.
    When China and India buy into your theory let me know.
    ------------------------------------

    When it comes to feeding my family and keeping employed, we need a strong economy. There is no strong economy without a healthy environment.

    What you see out your window means nothing. There's much more to the world and its functioning than the relatively minute bit that's visible from your window.

    Intersting that one who denies the impacts of climate change denies the reality of the auto industry in Canada: it is dying, it's part of the past and not the future. Highly developed nations such as Canada just can't compete on the manfucaturing front any more. Either we change the basis of our economy to reflect our strengths or we reduce our standard of living to that of the lower developed countries to compete for jobs.
  53. Not Withstanding from Canada writes: I don't get Simpson's obsession with climate change.

    If Canada had developed a system ahead of the US, we would now be scrambling to change and sign on to whatever Obama comes up with.

    And given that the expense will certainly exceed any possible economic gains (we are among the minority of countries that would gain from a warmer world...a fact that Mr. Simpson doesn't much like to talk about) it makes sense to wait to see what the big countries commit to and then do as little as we have to do.
  54. bill williams from Guelph from Canada writes: -

    Our pursuit of wealth from dirty oil in the face of world society that has recognized climate change as a threat is entirely emblematic of the way that we have shortened our vision and, as a consequence, our options. And the problem is worse than Simpson's description of it; it should be remembered that Obama's America has painted itself into a corner as well. He has little room to maneuver, and so the latitude that he might enjoy in helping us with our issues is constrained. For one, he recognizes that the world must get itself off the oil habit. In that context, clearly, heavy oil that requires enormous amounts of energy to produce WILL be vulnerable. There's no doubt about that. We can whine all we want, but that kind of petulance just signals to Obama that we don't 'get it', that we're not part of the solution (and if you're not part of the solution...), and that we have nothing to offer. He's a busy man. He's not going to invest a lot of time trying to figure out how to optimize a relationship that seems sterile.

    If we are all about the short term for us, HE will be all about the short term as regards us: "We'll buy their oil unless and until ... that's all they have on their mind. Oh well. Next item."

    If we had the latest in rail transport, alternative fuels, renewable energy, electric power grid technology, energy storage, green cars ... we would be players.

    Look at the C$ issue: We allowed our dollar to drift up and help kill manufacturing because of high oil prices and no wish to tax that wealth for the good of the country. Obama's answer - and he will be too polite and cool to put it in such stark terms- will be "OK guys, wear it."

    NB- IN POSTING THE FOREGOING I NEGLECTED TO POINT OUT THAT INDIVIDUALS LIKE 'EJ Ravensbud' MAY NOT WISH TO BE INCLUDED AS SHARING VIEWS HELD BY OBAMA AND OTHERS AS REGARDS GLOBAL WARMING. I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT EVERYONE WOULD KNOW THAT AND FEW CARE ... WHATEVER.

    -
  55. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: S. Balderick, what are the present inpacts of supposed climate change? What have happened to date?
    As far as the auto industry, I said the bailout is a waste and agree with you that it is a dying industry. I also agree that we have to change our industrial base and the first step is providing the younger and future auto workers with new skills through education so they can adapt to the new reality.
  56. EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: bill, thanks for the disclaimer.
  57. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Interesting article. We have the government that 'we' elected - of course almost half of eligible voters didn't bother so it is pretty much what we deserve. Petty regional/political spats often overtake the interests of the country as a whole and make us weak.

    The favorite pastime here is dissing the US - saying things that would be considered politically incorrect if they were said regarding any other group. This is not how we should be dealing with our closest neighbour and trading partner. Again, it makes us weak.

    As for Afghanistan, I suspect that President Obama is quite aware of the value of our military's contribution to date and the difficulty of maintaining that level of commitment past 2011. McKay's statement prior to President Obama's visit is unnecessary and insulting and it demonstrates the small selfish minds that dominate this country.
  58. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: @Catherine Medernach: McKay's statement prior to President Obama's visit is unnecessary and insulting and it demonstrates the small selfish minds that dominate this country.

    As opposed perhaps to the statements that the Liberals, NDP and BQ have made over the last two years with regards to Canada's commitement to the Afghanistan deployment?
  59. aldyen donnelly from Vancouver, Canada writes: I couldn't be happier that Canada fell behind and then off the "cap and trade" train. The problems that the Eurpean Union and northeastern states have created for themselves for their ill-considered "cap and trade" experiments are very costly--both the the environment and the economy. I am also glad we did not get around to implementing carbon/CO2 taxes in Canada between 1990 and 1999, when they were all the rage in Europe. The efforts the EU states have gone through to unwind the damage created by the energy tax policies of the 1990s are, again, very costly. And since 1997 per capita electricity and fuel consumption, car ownership rates and use have all increased faster in Europe than in Canada, in spite of outrageous energy prices. The big diff between Cda and Europe today is that while manufacturing (including "green industry") jobs in Europe dropped over 30% between 1997 and 2007, they climbed 15% in Canada. As a direct result European foreign direct investment in Canada equated all European foreign direct investment in Asia. Yes, European wealth was escaping Europe to Canada! Thank goodness we were slow on the take up of the European policies that chased investment capital to Canada. Thank goodness we did not jump into "cap and trade"--another major financial market crash in the making. But now that we are in a position to have learned so much from the mistakes of others, we are running out of time to make our own decisions about what good policies and market regulations look like. It is time to remember that our banks are on solid footings because we did not elect to copy or emulate European and US financial market regulatory strategies. It is time that we act as wisely and uniquiely in terms of carbon regulation and energy market management as we did in respect of out banking sector. And that means choosing our own direction.
  60. Sylvia Wilson from Canada writes: Oil sands isn't economically viable at current barrel prices. Alberta would only be able to ship the oil to the United States at decreased prices for a short period. They'll go broke if they continue to subsidize America's needs for oil. Problem of dirty oil solved by market forces! Investors will soon be dumping their stock in Oil Sands production unless prices go up. :-)

    No way is Ontario going to pick up the deficit tab for lower pricing by allowing a pipeline to divert its dirty oil to Ontario and Quebec.

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/Technology/Economic downturn shuts down pipeline proposal/1191629/story.html


  61. Michel Lebel from Entrelacs, Canada writes: The Harper government is parochial and stubborn. Obama's arrival and visit should'nt change things much. Don't expect Harper to become a liberal! Ignatieff and Obama should connect much more, two liberals from Harvard!
  62. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: @Sylvia Wilson: Investors will soon be dumping their stock in Oil Sands production unless prices go up. :-)

    You'd better hope they go back up since said dirty oil is paying the rest of the country's Health Care bills in the form of equalization transfer payments.
  63. Jordan W from Montreal, Canada writes: "You'd better hope they go back up since said dirty oil is paying the rest of the country's Health Care bills in the form of equalization transfer payments."

    That's exactly the kind of petty regionalism you always see in this "country" we live in. Until this can be defeated, we'll never move forward.
  64. S H from Texas, United States writes: I have traveled from coast to coast in Canada and appreciated your lands and people, but these ideas about waiting breathlessly for the new US president to throw you some crumbs are sickening. How did Canada become Canada without him? When he is out of office someday, will you dry up and blow away? There have got to be some grown men and women up there like we have here who depend on themselves and make their own way without needing a pat on the head from the latest career politician promising everyone everything.
  65. Sylvia Wilson from Canada writes: Tom Friell from Calgary,

    Oh really, Ontario, the lone province that never received a dime in equalization payments. However, equalization payments with be the death of this great country because it pits populations living within the provinces against other people living in provinces other than their own against each other.

    Canada's forefathers wanted a strong central government. They were right. However, during the early years of Canada it was ruled behind the scenes through the Privy Office by unelected Brits favouring de-centralization. We're now the most de-centralized country in the world with no national policies which will prove highly destructive to holding this country together in a global world. The railway that was built in Canada's early years intended to draw provinces together wasn't funded properly. The last link of the railway in BC was private and much of what was the old CNR that stretched from coast to coast is now privatized making it expensive to develop common fees and regulations for shipments travelling long distance to be the lowest. We won't be able to compete with countries with stronger centralized governments when provinces are at each other throats competing rather than co-operating.

    Our infrastructure badly needs overhauling, with fast transit rather than people dependent on driving individual vehicles. All things are linked...food, health, and they way we govern ourselves will make competition with other countries difficult...we don't need to compete with each other--we need combining so we're able to compete against global countries with much lower labour costs.

    Bickering among ourselves with kill this marvellous country.
  66. Sylvia Wilson from Canada writes: We could be a leader in transportation, health care and lots of other things, if only we'd join together. We're an extremely difficult country to administer federally and if that isn't fixed, there is no hope this country will ever prosper. We'll be at the mercy of countries more progressively that have national policies about transporting goods, healthcare, agriculture, education, resources and thousands of other things.

    Read this report from a US source about what they think they need to do about transportation: http://www.kutri.ku.edu/KUTRI-FORUM-REPORT-2008.pdf

    Then listen to this about agriculture and growing foods:

    http://media.globalpublicmedia.com/RM/2009/01/C2C_FoodPolitics.mp3

    Co-operation not competition is how Canada will move forward--without it, it will surely die! We're a huge country that needs to have common goals and that isn't happening with the current federal government that was elected--they're too busy seeking a majority government that they won't ever get because the wise electorate doesn't trust them.
  67. Sylvia Wilson from Canada writes: S H from Texas, United States individuality thrives in the United States but Canada must act as a collective because of our much, much smaller population spread over 4,800 miles, but for the most part concentrated within 300 miles of our southern neighbour.

    You also have a more favourable climate. Canada's hostile climate makes keeping roads in good repair during winters extremely expensive. We have to pool resources to survive, but individually, we do pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and try very hard to be successful and become leaders within a group. Everything is more expensive including housing...we can't build houses with little insulation because people wouldn't survive our harsh winters. Your southern states have an advantage in building flimsier housing that Canada can't have. You have a much larger pool of financing to draw from with a population that's 10 times the size of ours.

    USA is a great country, but Canada has struggles you don't have and the same philosophy doesn't work here that does in the United States. There's a good reason why Canada is more socialistic than your country--it's because we have to be pragmatic and adopt what works. Efforts can't be limited to individuals.
  68. J. Long from Alberta, Canada writes: EJ Ravensbud from Canada writes: ... with the US Democratic Party which is far to the right politically of the Canadian Conservative Party.

    Perhaps you could comment on the following analysis which seems far more objective than your assertion. The methodology and evaluative criteria are stated explicitly.

    http://politicalcompass.org/uselection2008

    vs.

    http://politicalcompass.org/canada2008
  69. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: @Jordan W: That's exactly the kind of petty regionalism you always see in this "country" we live in. Until this can be defeated, we'll never move forward.

    And how precisely is pointing the fiscal reality out regionalism?

    Alberta and Ontario... soon to be only Alberta... are the sole "have" provinces in Canada.

    For someone to say that oil revenue is "bad" ignores the actual fiscal reality that exist in Canada. Alberta pays more than it's own way in Confederation.

    And Obama can say whatever he wants about reducing oil consumption in the US but until he stops propping up the "indispensable" auto industry the US is plainly shafted when it comes to oil imports since 60% of oil imports in the US are used for gasoline and the one thing North American auto manufacturers have proven time and time again is that they can't make an affordable, fuel efficient small car to save their lives.

    And even if he does somehow (unbelievably) manage to cut imports Alberta can just sell the oil to the Chinese or the Indians. And the rest of the country should be grateful for the income stream.

    Unless of course they like cutting services for their provincial residents.

    So once again how is acknowledging that fact regionalism Jordan?
  70. Tom Friell from Calgary, Canada writes: @Sylvia Wilson: Oh really, Ontario, the lone province that never received a dime in equalization payments. However, equalization payments with be the death of this great country because it pits populations living within the provinces against other people living in provinces other than their own against each other.

    --------------------

    Well since Ontario is about to become a have not province you may want to adjust your spiel.

    The original intent for equalization payments was supposed to be for recipient provinces develop their own economies to get off equalization payments and not fund unsustainable spending habits in perpetuity so yes, oh really.

    With oil dropping like a rock would you care to place a small wager on how long it will be until no province is going to be able to collect transfer payments?

    "Canada's forefathers wanted a strong central government. "

    Yes they did... and then we got the written Constitution that allocated resource rights and revenues to provinces. Under a strict interpretation of said Constitution resource revenue should be exempt from transfer payments entirely.

    Ultimately though equalization payments are irrelevant as the natural trade routes in Canada run North-South not East-West as Ontario is now finding out.

    And for that matter inter-provincial barriers to trade are higher than US to Canada barriers. As a white-collar professional I would have an easier time getting certified to work in Oklahoma than I would in Ontario. Which is just asinine but that's Canada in all it's parochial glory for you.
  71. west slope from Wet Rock, Canada writes: ---

    Well put bill williams from Guelph.

    Funny how so many get-rich-quick western Canadians think that President Obama is so cool.

    I guess they all reckon that Obama's smooth rhetoric will persuade the "other guy" to make adjustments and sacrifices.

    ---
  72. aldyen donnelly from Vancouver, Canada writes: It is not my intention to fuel the anti-regionalism fire, but while it is the case that Ontario has not received equalization until now, it is also the case that a significant portion of the wages and taxes that are paid in Ontario are paid with federal tax dollars--dollars supplied by all Canadians, not just Ontarians. In 2008, the federal govenrment employed 124,773 persons in the Ottawa/Gatineau area (up from 109,000 in 2004); 21,362 jobs in Toronto; 11,000 jobs in southern Ontario. In 2007, $13 billion (43%) of the federal government's entire national $30 billion payroll went to Ontario residents. By comparison, the federal government payroll was $5.9 and $1.7 billion in Quebec and Alberta, respectively. So a big chunck of the federal payroll and income taxes included in Ontario's "transfers" to Ottawa originates in non-Ontario residents' federal income tax remits. All this to say that there are many ways to calculate relative regional wealth and contributions, likely none of which matter much. The Canadian confederation has always been inconvenient. But our strength has been founded on our differences--cultural and economic. As a nation we have been stronger because when one part of our fabric has hit a weak patch another has exhibited relative strength. Let's not forget that.
  73. Sylvia Wilson from Canada writes: Tom Friell from Calgary,

    According to noted economist, Nouril Robini, the American Bankings system is bordering on becoming insolvent and if oil prices stay at $30-40/barrel for the rest of 2009, there won't be any "have" provinces.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aS0yBnMR3USk&refer=home

    Every Canadian regardless of province in which they live will be in the same boat with everyone donning life preservers trying to keep their heads above the water.

    Agree that barriers between provinces is ridiculous. But thought Premiers recently signed an agreement eliminating them making it possible for credentials to be recognized Canada-wide. That's a step in the right direction--more nation-wide policies are desperately needed for Canada in order to have any chance of competing on a global basis.

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