By Karl Gotthardt
The New Democratic Party won a major victory during the last Canadian election in that it won “Official Opposition” status in Canada’s parliament. Most of the party’s gains were made in the Province of Quebec, with very little gain West of Quebec’s borders. The party relegated the Liberal Party of Canada, a centrist party, to third party status. New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament, Leslie Megan, will be heading to Washington this week to, what she calls, present a different view on the pipeline and energy issues. Megan is a long time progressive activist and a Member of Parliament fort the electoral district of Halifax on the east coast of Canada. That riding is about as far removed (around 3000 miles East) from the Alberta Oil Sands as you can get.
Leslie launched an initiative as the NDP’s Health critic to propose a national pharmacare plan to pay for expensive prescription drugs.
She also introduced a private members bill to create a national strategy for suicide prevention, which has garnered the support of some municipal councils.
She was also noted for being “well-briefed on the controversy surrounding Assisted Human Reproduction Canada last spring, when several board members resigned amid allegations of lack of transparency over spending.
Her background highlights her activist roots and her willingness to spend taxpayer’s money, without concern where the money comes from. Sound familiar? What Leslie Megan fails to realize that the Alberta Oil Sands have been paying for the social programs she values. Her decision to go to Washington and lobby against the health of the Canadian and by extension of the American economy, demonstrates her lack of knowledge of how the economy works and which side her bread is buttered on. Her comments that the US is outspending Canada 18-1 per capita on renewable energy fails to mention how much of that money has been wasted, Solyndra’s $467 Billion among them.
This week, NDP MP Megan Leslie will head to Washington to meet with “concerned” members of Congress who she said “want to hear a different point of view” on the pipeline and other energy issues.”We are going to go down to represent another face of Canada and what it is Canadians are talking aboLut here. There’s also a wonderful opportunity for relationship building and information exchange,” she told CTV’s Power Play, charging that the U.S. is outspending Canada 18-1 per capita on renewable energy and 8-1 on green energy investments.”So it’s a great opportunity to learn from them, to hear about what they’re doing and to figure out ways we can work together.”Conservative MP James Rajotte said it is “not appropriate” for an opposition MP to visit government officials in another country, and countered assertions that the Conservatives have failed to develop a diverse energy strategy.”In terms of an energy policy, in the last budget there was preferential tax treatment for large-scale clean energy projects, which Leslie’s party voted against. There was also increased funding for research and development for clean energy, which her party voted against as well,” Rajotte told Power Play. “So in fact our government has been investing a lot in renewable energy”
The U.S. Department of State has delayed the decision to approve the XL Keystone Pipeline for yet another environmental impact assessment. The delay would also move the decision past the 2012 election, to at least 2013. Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the decision disappointing and political posturing, which is just part of the American political season. Celebrities and environmentalists have recently formed a human circle around the White House, pressuring President Obama to nix the decision. Some believe that Obama caved in to his left base, which he needs to come out and vote in 2012 if he is to have a chance at re-election.
While Leslie Megan will advocate against the pipeline, Alberta’s Premier Alison Redford has met with business leaders, Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, to tell Alberta’s story, especially as far as environmental issues are concerned. She has also been exposed to the hard positions that exist within Congress and that it is difficult to sway the opponents of the pipeline.
“This is a process that must take place within the United States, there’s a process that’s in place. It would not have been appropriate for the government of Alberta to be lobbying in that process,” Redford said.
“To presume that somehow that the premier of Alberta could come down here into this city and absolutely change the course of an independent regulatory process that’s conducted through over six government departments is a little bit too rich for me.”
In a late development, the Nebraska legislature, in a special session, has approved a move of the pipeline from the Sandhills area and the Ogallala aquifer. The rerouting will increase the pipeline by approximately 30 miles. Trans Canada welcomed the move. According to a CBC report the approval process could be completed in six months.
“I am pleased to tell you that the positive conversations we have had with Nebraska leaders have resulted in legislation that respects the concerns of Nebraskans and supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president, Energy and Oil Pipelines, said in a statement. “I can confirm the route will be changed and Nebraskans will play an important role in determining the final route.”