Harper's Canada and Howard's Australia Following Same Path

Tue, 2006-07-25 14:32Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Harper's Canada and Howard's Australia Following Same Path

British investors “have recognized the emergence of Canada's globalPM's Harper and Howard energy powerhouse. Or as we put it, the emerging energy superpower our government intends to build.” – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in London, speaking to a British business audience on July 15, 2006

“As an efficient, reliable supplier, Australia has a massive opportunity to increase its share of global energy trade - with the right policies, we have the makings of an energy superpower.“  – Australian Prime Minister John Howard, in Sydney, speaking to an Australian economics forum, on July 17, 2006

Commentators have noted before Stephen Harper's apparent affection for the policies and strategies of his Australian counterpart. The Canadian Tories hired John Howard's campaign director, Brian Loughnane, as a strategic advisor in the happy hopes of importing some of Howard's electoral magic (he's on his fourth majority).

But it's curious how closely the two men are moving when it comes to energy policy. Both are sitting on a huge energy resources (in the case of Australia, coal, oil and uranium; in the case of Canada, oil and gas, coal and even more uranium) and both have stars in their eyes about the prospects of selling that bounty into the developing economies of India and China. And neither is the least interested in binding his country to an international agreement (Kyoto) that would constrict that big sales opportunity.

In the short term, it seems likely that they will succeed in destroying Kyoto and replacing it with the purely voluntary (read, wholly ineffective) Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. In the long term, it also seems like that they will have made both our national economies more reliant than ever on fossil fuel exports, ignoring the science and passing up the opportunities to take an international lead in developing alternative energy sources.

Ah well, while we wait for them to set fire to our modern Rome, we can be entertained by how they fiddle with the language, and by how obviously they are working from a playbook that looks suspiciously like it is being written - for striving wannabe superpowers - by the power brokers in D.C.