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Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver leaves a Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa on Sept. 28, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver leaves a Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa on Sept. 28, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)


Joe Oliver's fever dream of forbidden pipeline love Add to ...

The source of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s ideas – of a conspiracy between “environmental and other radical groups” that are working with “foreign special-interest groups” and “jet-setting celebrities” to prevent Canada from completing “any major project” – appears to be our Prime Minister.

Speaking in Vancouver last November, Stephen Harper said, “I think we’ll see significant American interests trying to line up against the Northern Gateway project, precisely because it's not in the interests of the United States. It's in the interests of Canada. … They'll funnel money through environmental groups and others in order to try to slow it down.”

Mr. Oliver's addition of the threat of “jet-setting celebrities” is a charmingly anachronistic touch, as if the rest of us still travel by boat or biplane. Unless of course he means actual jet-setting celebrities, from the age of the jet set. They are mostly dead now. Does the minister fear that Canada's industries are under attack by Zombie Sammy Davis Jr.? Even if that is what Mr. Oliver means, Mr. Harper's is still the more paranoid suggestion.

Mr. Harper insists that international environmental groups are working together, targeting individual projects, specifically to undermine our national sovereignty. Which is bizarre enough because, honestly, when has the left ever reached a consensus on anything? Is nobody infiltrating these groups?

They do some fine work, but I wouldn't want to be the one forced to organize the United Groups of the Left Potluck. It would take 122 votes just to agree on who was going to bring the tabbouleh.

But, more strangely, Mr. Harper also wants us to trust him that these environmentalists are working hand in hand with American politicians and businesses.

Are we meant to believe that the environmental groups' massive outcry against the Keystone XL pipeline (which apparently led U.S. President Barack Obama to delay the project) was an elaborately staged ploy? That environmentalists defeated the Keystone pipeline that their secret masters wanted, because it would have brought oil to the United States, only so that later they would have the credibility to defeat the Gateway pipeline their secret masters oppose, because it threatens to take Canadian oil elsewhere?

That seems unlikely. But perhaps that conflict is when these two once-opposing parties met.

In the distant past of the past few years, when the Canadian government was not as delicate about foreign intervention as they're claiming to be now, they lobbied hard for the approval of Keystone, as did the American oil industry, both against the environmental groups.

Really, you would have thought these last two had nothing in common. You would have thought that they hated each other! Why, I'll bet that when that free-spirited, winsome creature (with a touch of fire about her) that is the Environmental Movement met that staid, goal-oriented, grey-suited entity that is American Big Oil, you could have cut the tension with a knife.

And then I'll bet the Environmental Movement did something maddeningly endearing with her pen in a meeting, before she spilled the contents of her purse, and then while American Big Oil helped her pick up her things, he said something witty and self-deprecating – perhaps about the mess he made in the Gulf of Mexico. And then they had a moment, and then they had a fight, and then eventually they had sex on the desk and the Canadian lobbyists walked in on them in the middle of it, which was kind of hilarious, and you guessed it – yes, it's worse than we imagined: This whole thing is just another crappy American romcom.

They fell in love, American Big Oil and the Environmental Movement, and apparently they've decided that, as different as they are, they both really hate Canada.

That's right, Canada. They hate the “Canadian families” that Joe Oliver has vowed to protect – all those families sitting on shovel-ready oil wells in their backyards, under the skating rink that dad makes every winter – families being prevented from realizing their dream by the entire cast of the Gillette Cavalcade of Stars, who now eat brains because they were brought back to life by the unlikely pairing of American Big Oil and the Environmental Movement.

Help us, Mr. Oliver! Help us, Mr. Harper! Do something! We've seen the road-trip segment and the missing-each-other montage. Now do something before we have to see the bit where she helps him reconnect with his dad.

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Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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