This is from the Globe and Mail
At most Harper could be a junior partner to a US super-hero. Sort of a Robin to the U.S. Batman. The NAFTA virtually guarantees this as this article notes but just in passing:
And whose supplies would he withhold? All of Canada's gas exports and 98 per cent of the oil go south of the border. Unless Canada breaks the North American free trade agreement, it cannot restrict these exports – limiting our ability to use energy as a bargaining chip.
Harper suggests that we could be an energy superpower and set a heroic role for clean energy development. Harper needs a department of Fairy Tales to develop this idea.
Superpower? Oil could make Stephen Harper a superhero
First, he must stop boasting that he's the Prime Minister of some energy juggernaut - the suit doesn't fit and people don't want it to, international-affairs specialist Jennifer Welsh and economist Annette Hester contend. Instead, he should use the petro-bonanza to make Canada a global pioneer of progress. Wouldn't that require a majority government? Lester Pearson didn't need one
ANNETTE HESTER AND JENNIFER WELSH
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
February 2, 2008 at 8:00 AM EST
Leaders of minority governments are often too mired in coalition-building or pursuing short-term policy fixes to spout visionary language about foreign policy. Yet, on the first stop of his first trip abroad as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper struck a surprisingly bold note.
In a speech in London, he referred to Canada as an “emerging energy superpower” and backed his claim with a cluster of statistics that were to become a feature of his foreign speeches: “We are currently the fifth-largest energy producer in the world. We rank third and seventh in global gas and oil production respectively. We generate more hydro-electric power than any other country on Earth. And we are the world's largest supplier of uranium.”
That was 2006, and since then he has repeated his mantra often enough to suggest that he actually means it. But Mr. Harper didn't stop here. While in Sydney for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit last September, he upped the ante, proclaiming that Canada could and should become a “clean energy superpower” – clearly a response to those who accuse his government of disregarding the country's commitments to the Kyoto climate accord. He assured his audience that “Canada is ready and able to take on the challenge of global warming,” adding that it's vital that the extraction and use of its resources be environmentally sustainable because energy “increasingly defines our place in the world.”
But what exactly is an energy superpower and does Canada fit the role? What's more, do Canadians even want it?
BOTH CARROT AND STICK
The term “superpower” was introduced to the lexicon of international relations in 1944 by Columbia University's renowned foreign-policy expert W.T.R. Fox because the traditional notion of a “great power” no longer conveyed the true might of the United States and Soviet Union. (Interestingly, he applied the term to Britain as well.)
In short, superpowers are states that can exert their power and influence events on a worldwide scale. Both aspects are crucial. Superpowers are often identified through their possession of “hard” resources such as tanks and soldiers, but their greatest force is political. Other states' foreign policies are defined in large part by their stance toward the reigning superpowers, which often claim special rights (such as the right to interfere with their neighbours) and responsibilities (such as managing threats to international peace and security). As well, superpowers have interests that extend beyond one region. As international affairs historian Alfred Zimmern once put it, the foreign minister of a superpower “is concerned with all the world all the time.”
The idea of an energy superpower began during the oil crisis of the 1970s when energy producers could use their power to influence prices, although doing so depended on co-operation among many nations. That changed in 1978 when the Iranian revolution, followed by Iraq's invasion of Iran, prompted oil prices to jump from $14 (U.S.) to $36 a barrel in 1980 (about $90 in today's dollars). Forbes magazine dubbed Iraq an “oil superpower,” but in a few years prices collapsed and its super powers were all but forgotten.
But now that prices have risen again, scholars and journalists have come to consider an energy superpower a country with:
Abundant resources (oil and now natural gas as well) and enough control over those resources to set prices, either by using the market or by withholding supplies;
Market control beyond its own region and a government able to leverage its energy resources for political purposes;
The willingness to use its energy resources to force others to do what they otherwise would not do.