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FIRST READING: Joe Biden looks for oil everywhere *except* his oil-rich northern neighbour


What if Patrick Brown had been Ontario premier this whole time?

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Amid historically high gas prices and a new embargo on Russian oil imports, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is now roaming the globe to glad-hand whatever autocratic government might be willing to sell them more oil.

  • White House officials are in Venezuela this week to talk about trading oil for relief from U.S. sanctions (politely ignoring the fact that Venezuelan autocrat Nicholas Maduro is Latin America’s top ally for Russian President Vladimir Putin).
  • Biden is reportedly weighing a trip to Saudi Arabia to convince the country’s monarchical rulers to pump more oil. So far, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are reportedly ignoring Biden’s calls.

Naturally, this whole spectacle is proving maddening to the giant, friendly, democratic petrostate that literally shares a 9,000 km border with the United States. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was at a Houston oil conference this week, where he was directly making the pitch to Americans to buy Canadian and steer clear of what he called “conflict oil.”

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Canada already supplies 51 per cent of the foreign oil purchased by the United States, and sources within the Canadian energy sector are estimating that we could be “immediately” sending the Americans an extra 400,000 barrels per day by rail or through existing pipelines.

We could be sending them even more, but the problem is transportation: There just aren’t enough conduits between U.S. refineries and the landlocked parts of Northern Alberta which produce the oil. So it’s somewhat ironic that one of the first actions of Biden Administration was to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which could conceivably have pumped enough Canadian crude into the U.S. market to replace lost stocks of Russian oil.

And it’s not like Biden can simply reverse the cancellation. TC Energy, the pipeline’s builders, lost so much money on Keystone XL that they’re now refusing offers to revive it. As oil analyst Michael Tran told the Financial Post this week, “we squandered the opportunity to make major strides to become closer to North American energy independence or North American energy sufficiency.”

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NATO has refused to answer Ukraine’s calls for a no-fly zone over their country for the simple reason that it would mean declaring an air war against the Russian Federation. But this week saw Poland orchestrate a bizarre plan to set up a kind of ersatz no-fly zone. The Polish Air Force took its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets (pictured) and gave them “immediately and free of charge” to the United States on the wink-wink, nudge-nudge understanding that the jets would be turned over to Ukraine. But unfortunately for Kyiv, the Americans kiboshed the plan, arguing that Russia would view it as a form of de facto intervention.
NATO has refused to answer Ukraine’s calls for a no-fly zone over their country for the simple reason that it would mean declaring an air war against the Russian Federation. But this week saw Poland orchestrate a bizarre plan to set up a kind of ersatz no-fly zone. The Polish Air Force took its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets (pictured) and gave them “immediately and free of charge” to the United States on the wink-wink, nudge-nudge understanding that the jets would be turned over to Ukraine. But unfortunately for Kyiv, the Americans kiboshed the plan, arguing that Russia would view it as a form of de facto intervention. Photo by REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

PATRICK BROWN

Four years ago, Patrick Brown was riding high as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives; a party virtually guaranteed to take power in the 2018 provincial election against the wildly unpopular Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne.

That is, until sexual misconduct allegations from two women got Brown booted from the party only two months before the election, prompting Doug Ford to take his place and a fallen Brown to content himself with becoming mayor of Brampton.

Leader of the Ontario PC party Patrick Brown is foliowed by media after addressing allegations against him at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday January 24, 2018.
Leader of the Ontario PC party Patrick Brown is foliowed by media after addressing allegations against him at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday January 24, 2018. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

And now, after Brown resolved a defamation suit with CTV – the network that first reported the allegation – it looks like this whole series of events may have kicked off because of some faulty reporting.

Key details provided to CTV for the story were factually incorrect and required correction,” wrote CTV in a statement issued as a result of the settlement. The statement did not specify what those errors were, but one of the changes made to CTV’s online story seem to indicate that they got the age wrong on one of his accusers, who was originally reported to still be in high school. While none of the allegations have been proven in court, it’s not clear what CTV misreported beyond the womens’ age.

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Gerald Butts, for one, is taking Brown’s side on the whole affair. The extremely online Liberal hyperpartisan who once worked as Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary wrote on Twitter that CTV got “got played like a fiddle” by a PC insider trying to take out Brown.

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Meanwhile, Ontario is left to wonder how history might have played out differently if Brown hadn’t been booted from the leadership only weeks before his near-guaranteed coronation as the province’s 26th premier. Some guesses …

  • Ontario’s COVID-19 response would have been far less strict. Under Doug Ford, Ontario experienced some of Canada’s longest COVID-19 lockdowns, including repeated school closures. In his capacity as Brampton mayor, Brown has emerged as a prominent critic of “hard” lockdowns, favouring a much more hands-off approach in the pandemic’s latter days.
  • The PC’s star would probably be higher in Ontario. Brown certainly had enemies within the PC caucus, most notably due to nomination spats and Brown’s decision to pursue a carbon tax. But he was extremely popular among Ontarians right up until his resignation. Ford, by contrast, currently ranks as one of Canada’s least popular premiers (although, given the lacklustre competition, Ford might win re-election anyway).

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Anyways, it looks like Brown is already planning for a comeback, possibly in the form of a run at the federal Conservative leadership.

Although generally considered a Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had strong family ties to Ukraine, lived in Ukraine for large portions of his life and often featured Ukrainian subjects in his work. That wasn’t good enough for the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra in Wales, who has just announced they will no longer be playing the composer’s works due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Although generally considered a Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had strong family ties to Ukraine, lived in Ukraine for large portions of his life and often featured Ukrainian subjects in his work. That wasn’t good enough for the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra in Wales, who has just announced they will no longer be playing the composer’s works due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo by File

WAR IN UKRAINE

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his grand tour of Europe on Wednesday, which included a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and a trip to a Holocaust memorial.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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Although the stated purpose of the trip is to strengthen the NATO alliance, it’s not like Canada can really offer much. All week, Trudeau has been explicitly non-committal on the two things that Europeans keep asking him about. Namely, can Canada pledge more military hardware to counter Russia, and can Canada sell Europe more oil?

Regardless, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still being very nice to us. This week, he promised to address the Canadian House of Commons, and referred to Trudeau as his “friend.”

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One of the reasons might be because Canada’s eight-year military training mission to Ukraine is yielding extraordinary dividends for the country’s defence. One of Ukraine’s major tactical advantages over Russia is that they have small-unit autonomy; a Ukrainian anti-tank unit can unilaterally pick and destroy targets, while many of their Russian counterparts are still stuck in the Soviet-era mindset of standing around and waiting for orders. One Canadian trainer told the National Post that this idea of “mission command” was the single most important concept that they tried to drill into Ukrainian soldiers, and that it’s proved to be the “biggest shock” for the invading Russians.

In this 2020 photo, Canadian Armed Forces members help train soldiers from the Armed Forces of Ukraine as part of Operation Unifier.
In this 2020 photo, Canadian Armed Forces members help train soldiers from the Armed Forces of Ukraine as part of Operation Unifier. Photo by Cpl Jeffrey Clement, Canadian Armed Forces photo

Canada also appears to be disproportionately helping to fill the ranks of Ukraine’s foreign fighters. So much so, that the Canadians have their own battalion.

And before Zelenskyy transformed overnight into a kind of 21st century Winston Churchill, it turns out he actually took inspiration from our guy. In July, 2019, Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that “Justin Trudeau was one of those leaders who inspired me to join politics.”

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