Don Martin: Into a world of Biden euphoria comes Canadian talk of sanctions against the U.S.
OTTAWA -- It must be one for the political record books: A demand for trade sanctions against the U.S. within seven hours of the new president being sworn in.
What’s worse, it came from a Canadian premier at the precise moment the White House revealed the first foreign call by U.S. President Joe Biden would be to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, setting the stage to reignite our cross-border bromance.
But, insisted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney before the ink on the executive order was dry, trade and economic sanctions are a justified response against a President Biden who signed the death certificate for his government-backed Keystone XL pipeline.
Even though Canada was the only foreign nation hurt by Biden’s multitude of executive orders Wednesday, Kenney’s demand was poorly-timed, desperately-argued and so far beyond real-world diplomacy as to be laughable.
Trudeau likely choked on his herbal tea when he heard Kenney whooping such a tin-eared tirade on an Inauguration Day when the world was breathing a sigh of relief at having survived the Trump presidency without an exchange of nuclear weapons.
Trudeau’s was a polar-opposite and passive response – an expression of “disappointment” before immediately accepting the decision.
But somewhere between Kenney’s crazy-talk sanctions and a Trudeau’s do-nothing shrug there’s probably a reasonable argument for the U.S. government to reconsider the decision.
Kenney makes a decent case that the Keystone XL pipeline provides safer transportation than railcars, is a more secure supply than other foreign sources and, with the promise of the megaproject achieving zero emissions, highlights a cleaner environmental record for a dirty-oil resource.
There’s even talk of the pipeline being ready for conversion to handle clean-energy hydrogen in the future as standby infrastructure for the post-oil era.
Trudeau has, of course, a prime ministerial obligation to forcefully underline those points when the Biden call comes in Friday.
But for killing Keystone to make it to the top of Biden’s Trump-reversal executive orders for his day-one signature makes it painfully clear this is definitely NOT a presidential priority subject to second thoughts or reversal.
Biden repeatedly promised to do exactly this if elected. And if Biden’s union supporters can’t convince him to consider the American job losses caused by terminating Keystone, well, that suggests Trudeau’s passive response is probably realistic.
That doesn’t make it any easier for Kenney and thousands of Albertans depending on Keystone jobs to accept the verdict quietly or graciously.
They have every right to be furious after investing big deficit dollars in a pipeline greenlit by a president who, way back before the pandemic, seemed poised for re-election.
To have their a billion-dollar bet go bust after years of construction started in good faith, denying them an escape route for a crucial landlocked resource, is a painful political swallow.
But, sadly, perhaps it’s time to dive through the seven stages of grief to reach the point of acceptance.
Born in July 2008, the Keystone XL pipeline has endured hundreds of protests, tens of thousands of billable lawyer hours in court, millions of pages in legal and environmental examination, numerous elections as a voter issue and a presidential veto.
It lived, died under Obama and was born again under former president Trump.
It has finally met its match in Biden, who now has four years in power before any chance of being replaced with a presidential pipeline proponent. That’s far too long for any project of this magnitude to survive in palliative care.
With President Biden delivering a quick, cold-hearted eulogy, it’s RIP for Keystone XL, a crucial pipeline which ended up going nowhere.
That's the bottom line.