The race for the Republican Presidential nomination has been a circus inside a gong show, and of course I mean that in the best possible way. But here in Canada, we can mostly enjoy it for the entertainment value, as we so rarely come up in conversation. Or at least that was the case until Newt Gingrich name dropped our prime minister in his victory speech following the South Carolina primary Saturday. Gingrich was discussing the Keystone XL pipeline, and warning his constituents that without proper American support to build the pipeline will mean doom for those Americans, who are all beloved by Prime Minister Stephen Harper by the way.
"What Prime Minister Harper -- who, by the way, is conservative and pro-American -- what he has said is he's going to cut a deal with the Chinese and they'll build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver," said Gingrich.
"We'll get none of the jobs, none of the energy, none of the opportunity."
"Now, an American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country."
That's sort of reactionary, but while Newt, as a CTV commentator pointed out, was demonstrating to his supporters a wider knowledge of the world and implications to America. He knows the Canadian PM, knows that he's "conservative" and pro-American" - words often associated with Gingrich himself - so ergo vote for him and put America on the right path to oil soaked prosperity. You dig?
Just a couple of things. One, the approval of the pipeline is not so cut and dry in Canada. Granted, we have a pro-oil government in place, but there's also a strong pro-environment opposition. There are even provincial governments unsure if they want to throw in with the pipeline, be it for more economic than environmental reasons. Also, we don't have the same fear of the Chinese boogeyman that many on the U.S. hard right have; if we have to sell our oil to somebody, then why not China?
But to the question above, considering how much of Harper's big tent relies on him playing the centrist, the last thing he needs is the praise of someone seen as a scion of the hard right like Newt Gingrich. The Americans will have to sort out their issues on their own, and while I doubt that Gingrich will be the nominee, but politically, the last thing Harper needs is to be associated with Gingrich. He has enough issues right now in Canada without someone south of the border importing them by osmosis.