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Oil schmoil, what about SNC-Lavalin?

27 Feb 2019 | OP ED Watch

In the Financial Post, Diane Francis calls the Trudeau administration’s “pre-occupation” with the SNC-Lavalin scandal rather than “the pro-pipeline and anti-carbon tax convoy” that came to Parliament Hill last week “a metaphor for what’s been wrong with Canada.” And it is indeed telling that the PM couldn’t find five sunny minutes to chat with the protestors.

Francis contrasts the secretiveness of the whole SNC-Lavalin business, from the initial lobbying and pressure through to the inept damage control and shifting stories, with the openness of the truck convoy. And of course she contrasts the Quebec focus of the former with the Alberta-centred energy crisis.

She also notes just how important energy is to Canada, disparaging references to hewers of wood notwithstanding. Canada’s 4.7 million barrels of crude per day in 2017, up 60% from 2010, makes us “the fourth largest oil producer in the world”, she said, adding that 3.3 million bpd are exported, up 68 per cent since 2010. A happy story, you’d think, of a world-beating Canadian industry earning major export bucks. But the PM and cabinet, having pivoted from saving the planet to saving the subsidized, politically connected engineering firm… now seek only to save their own hides.

Francis praised Maxime Bernier for meeting with the convoy and making “pitch perfect” remarks, specifically that “You’re not asking for handouts, you’re not asking for any privileges, you’re just asking for being sure that this country will be able to build pipelines. That’s important not only for you, that’s important for all Canadians.” And she went on to pillory Trudeau for having “pandered for four years to special interests”.

It’s not the normal way to think about environmental activists and it’s certainly not how Trudeau sees them. But there is a revealing contrast between how Trudeau reacts to those with connections and the right manners and those who actually fit his mantra of “the middle class and those working hard to join it”.

Francis ends by predicting partisan disaster for Trudeau because he won’t build pipelines or be honest. It would be far better if he were to take the oil industry and its problems seriously starting right away. For Canada and very possibly for him too.

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