The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.
When Tom Mulcair, then a prospective NDP leader, wrote in an influential magazine last winter that Alberta’s oilsands have artificially driven up the Canadian dollar and hurt manufacturing in central Canada, his remarks received scant notice.
Mulcair was largely adding his voice to a view espoused by Premier Dalton McGuinty and a number of commentators and analysts.
When he repeated an abridged version of his Policy Options argument on the CBC last weekend, the reaction in western Canada verged on the hysterical.
Stephen Harper surrogates in right-wing media and think tanks joined Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in hurling invective at the NDP leader, accusing him of trying to divide the country, demonizing the West, pandering to Quebec and misunderstanding history and politics.
It appears that in a matter of a few months two things had happened to turn an op-ed piece in a policy magazine into a civil war.
First, Mulcair’s performance since assuming the NDP leadership appears to have convinced the federal Conservatives and those surrogates that they are facing a formidable opponent.
But the reaction also shows emotions in an environment versus economy debate unfolding in this country are coming to a boil and trumping logic in some cases.
It’s not even a debate that should be happening in 2012, but it takes no sleuthing skills to see how this has been building.
In the U.S., TransCanada Pipelines has reapplied for its licence to build the Keystone XL pipeline around a Nebraska aquifer, reigniting a U.S. debate that has always spilled over into this country.
When Barack Obama put the Keystone project on hold, Harper made energy exports to Asia a “national priority,’’ upping the stakes in the $5.5 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway project through British Columbia.
British Columbia New Democrats, seen at this early point as the province’s government-in-waiting, unanimously oppose the pipeline, backed by First Nations communities whose territories would be traversed by the pipeline.
At the same time, the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline on the west coast is facing opposition in Vancouver.
In Ottawa, the Conservatives have refused to separate an overhaul of environmental regulations and sweeping new cabinet powers to approve megaprojects from a 245-page budget implementation bill.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1175215–tim-harper-tom-mulcair-s-call-for-environmental-responsibility-hits-nerve-in-the-west