Skip to main content
rod mickleburgh

From the depths of his pipeline-free riding in the heart of Toronto, National Resources Minister Joe Oliver has lashed out at "environmental and other radical groups" for "[threatening]to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda."

Gosh, I haven't heard environmental activists smeared like that since Glen Clark labelled Greenpeace campaigners against old-growth logging "enemies of British Columbia." Guess who won that round?

This time, the activists' great sin is to oppose the proposed Gateway pipeline from Alberta's oil sands – across B.C. and the territory of scores of native groups battling the project – to Kitimat, where tankers the size of 3.5 football fields will load up with crude and head for Asia through the province's narrow, pristine, coastal waterways.

Who could be opposed to that but radicals? Never mind that B.C. will bear most of the ecological risk, without much permanent economic benefit.

Mr. Oliver's diatribe also included outrage that funds from non-Canadians are being used in the fight against a project fuelled by the interests of foreign-based oil companies, including authoritarian China's huge, state-owned energy company, Sinopec.

Ethical oil, indeed.

And who's behind this ideologically driven, outside cash, Mr. Oliver was asked. "Billionaire socialists from the United States – people like George Soros," he replied.

Sounds like someone itching to get into those wacky Republican debates and show up Mitt Romney for the socialist he really is.


No, they're not booing. Nor are they celebrating "great save, Luongo!" with "Looooo …" It's China, and it's "Huuuu … " You know, as in Hu's the president of China. That's right.

Still, the Prime Minister's pending February visit seems an odd time to make Valentine's Day koochie koo in the People's Republic of China with the country's drab successor to Mao Zedong's legacy, Hu Jintao.

The mirthless Mr. Hu is to be replaced later this year by China's next dear leader, Xi Jinping, cleverly headlined by The Economist as "Xi who must be obeyed."

So, sadly, this means Mr. Harper's clear desire to talk tough on human rights, strongly support the Nobel Prize awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and forcefully defend the right of Tibetans to worship as they wish will be wasted on someone with not many more months in the top job.

Might as well say nothing at all. Oh, well.


The geezer on the $10 bill celebrated his 197th birthday this week by undoubtedly rolling over in his grave that a certain Muskoka cabinet minister from his governing Conservative Party apologized for telling a teen on twitter that he was a "jack ass."

Sir John Eh Macdonald was made of sterner stuff. Once, having overly partaken of the grape, he threw up during a public election debate. Apologize? Pshaw. The great man merely wiped himself off and told the cringing crowd that he always feels sick when he hears his opponent speak.

Nor should we forget his singular definition of political optimism: "When fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile, and say, 'We are going to have a summer shower.'"

Those fine sentiments were still in play 125 years later for a fella named David Emerson, whose run for the Liberals in 2006 received an electoral urn of urine from the voters of Vancouver-Kingsway. Cue the summer shower. Two weeks later, Mr. Emerson was in Stephen Harper's cabinet.

It's a pity so little is taught about Canada's first prime minister in the schools these days.

While the hanging of Louis Riel is hard to forgive, without Sir John Eh's vision and drive to forge the Dominion of Canada, we might well be participants in the risible political circus south of us, choosing a presidential candidate from among a plastic man named Mitt, an adulterer named Newt, and a bunch of guys from the phonebook.

For that alone, thank you, Sir John.


I find it hard to believe I'm writing this, so full of life was he. But rest in peace, sweet, wonderful Allan Dowd, the long-time, Vancouver-based correspondent for Reuters who passed away this week after a short, tough battle with lymphoma.

There was no better colleague on the beat, imbued, as he was, with whimsy, perception, grace and an enviable ability to ask tough, pertinent questions with a smile.

No matter how mundane the event, it was always more pleasurable to cover when Allan was there. No airs, no territorial turf, no cynicism, yet ever ready with a quip or sly aside. Fun to work with, fun to share a beer with afterwards.

Now, at 52, his voice and pen are stilled, and we are all the poorer for it.