By Paul Wells - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
We sure picked a good day to be discussing the future of Keystone XL with CPAC and a blue-chip guest list in Washington. (Showtime is 7 p.m. and you can watch it all on CPAC. We’ve got Gary Doer and John Manley and many more, and Colleague Luiza Ch. Savage will keep them all honest. I’m writing from the U.S. departure lounge at Ottawa airport, and right now it looks like I’ll probably get to the Newseum before cameras roll.)
Fifteen months after Barack Obama delayed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, it is getting time to stop delaying. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM - 0 Comments
Within this story about efforts to deliver foreign aid in Haiti is an intriguing anecdote about Michaelle Jean’s role in the deployment of the Canadian Forces in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.
Two years ago, Ms. Jean, then governor-general, was having dinner with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson at Rideau Hall when the earthquake struck. After working the phones, she managed to convince Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Walter Natynczyk, to send help immediately instead of waiting for an official call from the Haitian authorities.
The Governor General does hold the title of commander-in-chief, but there is probably an interesting discussion to have about the precedents and implications of a Governor General getting involved in overseas deployments.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 3 Comments
Rogers Communications celebrated their 50th anniversary in Ottawa at the Metropolitain Brasserie….
Rogers Communications celebrated their 50th anniversary in Ottawa at the Metropolitain Brasserie.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 8:53 PM - 94 Comments
At a meeting today in Washington, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a “Shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness”. They announced that a group of senior government officials from both countries would form a “Beyond the Border Working Group.” The group will look for ways to streamline border security while creating a shared “perimeter security” around both countries. In addition, a Regulatory Cooperation Council will look for ways to coordinate and harmonize regulations in order to ease red tape for companies that do business in both countries.
After the leaders’ meeting, I spoke with U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, about what this all means.
Q – What does the Obama administration want out of these talks?
By Colby Cosh - Friday, December 24, 2010 at 8:06 AM - 90 Comments
Much like “Jurist”, I had to laugh at the headlines conjured up in the wake of the most interesting Wikileaks revelation so far concerning Canada. The Globe, summarizing the leaked minute of a private meeting between former Environment Minister Jim Prentice and U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, says “[Prentice] threatened to impose new rules on oil sands”. Okayyy, but it’s not really a threat if you make it only in the presence of a third party, is it? We’ve all met fake tough guys who are full of stories about how they really told so-and-so off, but who are really just imagining what they would have said if their spine weren’t made of marmalade. Similarly, the CBC has it “Prentice was ready to curb oilsands”, mysteriously failing to add “…but he didn’t really get around to it, and then one day he just cleaned out his desk and left.”
The actual text of the cable suggests that Prentice’s underlying cynicism did not go unnoticed by its presumptive author—the Ambassador himself. Be honest, now: don’t you cringe a little at this part?
Minister Prentice was clearly making every effort to establish a connection with Ambassador Jacobson, outlining his respect for the Administration and his interest in President Obama’s “back story”, persona, and goals. …Prentice appeared keen to forge a personal relationship with Ambassador Jacobson—to the mutual benefit of both countries.
Obviously the whole point of such face-to-face meetings is to “establish personal connections”, but if your sister came back from a blind date with a report like this you’d say “Gawd, what a schmuck.” Minister Try-Too-Hard got careful about his language, however, when he and the ambassador came to grips with the actual tar-sands issue. At every turn in Jacobson’s account of the conversation, Prentice’s concern is with image, not environmental reality. Just imagine this paragraph without the bits in bold type:
During a discussion of the Ambassador’s travels, Prentice asked for his views on the oil sands. Prentice shared that he was concerned about the media focus on the sands and the possible impact on Canada‘s international reputation. He recalled that he was first concerned about oil sands coverage during a trip to Norway where the public was debating whether or not Norway should be investing public funds (Statoil) in ‘dirty oil’. As Prentice relayed it, the public sentiment in Norway shocked him and has heightened his awareness of the negative consequences to Canada‘s historically ‘green’ standing on the world stage. Calling himself “conservationist-minded”, Prentice said he would step in and regulate the sands if Canada’s image in the world gets further tarnished by negative coverage. …Prentice did say that he felt that Government of Canada’s reaction to the dirty oil label was “too slow” and failed to grasp the magnitude of the situation.
As an honest Albertan, I’ll call your attention to two other things about this paragraph:
(1) In an exchange of views on the oil sands, Prentice apparently doesn’t actually say a word about the oil sands—only the international reaction to them.
(2) “Conservationist” is a conscious alternative to “environmentalist”, not a synonym for it. Conservationists are what we had before we had environmentalists. After years of interviewing Alberta politicians and businessmen and hearing them take this line, I understand “conservationism” to denote an emphasis on the value to human beings of wilderness and biodiversity, as opposed to a worldview that says the grizzly’s needs and priorities (and the lichen’s) are indistinguishable from our own. Since this distinction is rarely discussed, it’s an easy means of equivocation: saying you’re “conservationist-minded” can easily mean you wouldn’t personally want a derrick to spoil the view at your A-frame in Kananaskis.
The punch line of the Wikileak arrives when Prentice disavows any actual intention to act on planned tar sands expansion: “In response to the Ambassador’s inquiry about a possible moratorium on further expansion in the oil sands, Prentice didn’t think it was necessary at this time and felt growth to [3-4 million barrels a day] was sustainable.” And there’s a little dénouement when Prentice again summarizes his goals—as the Environment Minister of the Dominion, mind you—solely in terms of image: “At the end of the day, Prentice wants Canada to be billed as the most environmentally-conscious energy superpower.” One wonders at the need for “billed as” to be present in that sentence.
I’m being unkind to Prentice; I don’t know that I would behave any differently in his place, and I’m certainly, as a matter of core philosophy, on the “conservationist” side of the conservationist/environmentalist divide. Moreover, he’s right that government was somewhat slow to react to the publicity crisis, though I don’t see why that should be blamed on the federal government rather than Alberta, since Alberta’s so belligerent about its responsibility for and ownership of its oil.
But Prentice has long been regarded, in the downtown-Toronto conventional wisdom, as a lone Nice Moderate who struggled to fit in with a pack of faith-crazed ideologues. Maybe people should consider the possibility that he really was, after all, a foam-jowled Calgary wolf—one who just happened to be particularly expert at wearing sheep’s clothing. The rap on this federal government, the common theme of the attacks on it, is that it doesn’t respect evidence in decision-making. Those who still see Prentice as a potential alternative leader will, I think, be precisely those who overlook his obsessive concern with “labels” and “standing” and “reputation”. Does he sound, in the cable, like a data-driven Environment Minister? Does it sound like he was much concerned with what the oil sands are doing—or not doing—to the watershed, the wildlife, the people downstream, and the climate?
I ask because if Canadian oil sands policy is going to be determined exclusively by the squealings of people who have seen ugly photographs of them but don’t otherwise know anything about them…well, the sands and the people who make a living from them are going to lose that fight. If your position is “Shut ‘em down”, then an emotional, esthetics-based debate is easy for you to win. There is a policy case, weak or strong, to be made on behalf of the tar sands; it would be a lot harder to argue that they make the world prettier or the landscape pleasanter or the animals happier.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, October 9, 2009 at 5:05 PM - 6 Comments
David Jacobson is a former litigator with a soft spot for cigars
Barack Obama’s new ambassador to Canada, who has arrived in the midst of tensions over trade, energy and the border, has a reputation for embodying the “no drama” rule that was emblematic of the Obama campaign. In the course of 30 years as a corporate litigator with a single Chicago firm, David Jacobson was known for never losing his temper, not even raising his voice. “David is an extraordinarily pragmatic individual,” says John Grossbart, a colleague who has been in tough spots with Jacobson on high-stakes cases. “He never loses his cool.” So it was an odd sight when his wife, Julie, an elegant brunette and fellow law school grad, walked in on him one day eight years ago, after the hard-fought 2000 presidential campaign that pitted George W. Bush against Al Gore, and caught him throwing newspapers at the wall.
“I am one of these guys who is addicted to cable television. I read newspapers religiously and voraciously,” says Jacobson, 57, who still seems a bit surprised to find himself and his wife on the pale yellow sofa in the stately official residence in Ottawa’s leafy Rockcliffe Park, hours after presenting his diplomatic credentials to Governor General Michaëlle Jean, enjoying a cordial private meeting with Stephen Harper, and emerging unscathed from his first Canadian media scrum. “I would get madder and madder and fling newspapers around the room, and yell and scream at the TV,” he continues, describing his reaction to the election results. “One day, Julie, who is much smarter than me, said to me, why don’t you try and do something?” Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 2:43 PM - 7 Comments
David Jacobson’s Senate confirmation hearing this morning lasted about 19 minutes by my watch. A Chicago lawyer (specialties included trade, e-commerce, energy, intellectual property) and a prolific Obama fundraiser, he sounded very enthusiastic about becoming ambassador to Canada and knowledgeable, or at least well briefed, on the issues. He noted in his remarks that he has been working in the White House since January, (helping fill jobs in the executive branch). “During that time, I have developed an understanding of how this administration works as well as strong relationships with decision-makers in the White House and across our government,” he said.
I spoke with him briefly afterward. He’s in a hurry to get to Ottawa as soon as he gets confirmed, he said. His family is looking forward to it too. He told me his wife speaks French and his son may be enrolling at McGill.
He’s not supposed to do substantive media interviews until after he is confirmed by the Senate, so he wouldn’t say much more than that. He seemed a bit nervous and made the gaffe of referring to the Secretary of State as “Senator” Clinton. But it really didn’t matter since there was only one senator on the panel to hear him.
Below is his statement and Q & A with Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware. Highlights were his praise for Canada’s role in Afghanistan, and his suggestion that the US could learn from Canada’s more conservative banking practices.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, April 17, 2009 at 3:20 PM - 15 Comments
Latest rumour: A Chicago lawyer who raised gobs of cash for the campaign.