Breakfast with Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Calgary last week to give the keynote address at a breakfast meeting of 2500 Calgarians who paid about $500 to hear her speak.  Luckily my friend, the Zen Banker, invited me to attend as her guest.

Hillary is like the Chloe Diamond—brilliant, mesmerizing, multifaceted and years in the making.  Agree with her or not, it’s critical that Canadians understand how the woman who may become the 45th president of the United States views the world and our little part in it.

Here are the highlights:

Energy is the key:  Energy is at the “intersection of economic prosperity, national security and diplomacy” and Canada and the US need to work together to utilize energy in a diplomatic way. 

Energy can be used diplomatically in two ways.  It can advance “strategic interests”.  For example, US-led sanctions forced Iran to the negotiation table to discuss dismantling Iran’s nuclear program.  Or it can be used to “intimidate”.  In 2009 Gaz Prom shut off the natural gas supply to the Ukraine when a price dispute became political.

One can’t help but notice that characterizing the use of energy as “strategic” or “intimidation” depends on which country has its hand on the spigot.                     

The Ukraine:  Hillary attributes Putin’s harsh reaction to the Ukraine to his desire to rebuild the “Soviet Empire”.  Russia is reaching a turning point.  Putin must choose between (1) working with the US, Canada and the EU and using Russia’s natural resources and educated work force to create a peaceful and profitable future or (2) pursuing his dream of the Soviet Empire and perpetuating the corruption that creates wealthy oligarchs and impoverishes the middle class.

Israel and Palestine:  Hillary strongly supports the “two state solution” to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  This is in Israel’s best interest because it recognizes the threat of demography (many Palestinians live in Israel) and the threat of technology (newer long range rockets that will pierce the “Iron Dome” over Israel).  Nevertheless progress will be slow.

Climate Change/GHG:  Hillary signalled very strong support for joint Canada/US efforts to reduce green house gases and tackle climate change and referred to the work the Clinton Foundation is doing with 40 of the world’s largest cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

(The Clinton Foundation has a number of climate change initiatives including 1Sky which supports an 80% reduction in pollution levels by 2050). 

Hillary said that 50% the US’s new energy capacity came from renewable energy.  If this is true it  would explain why the US is not convinced Canada is doing everything it can to exploit the oilsands in an environmentally responsible manner.

Keystone XL:  Finally, the question we’ve all been waiting for.  Moderator Frank McKenna delicately explained that the ongoing uncertainty over the future of Keystone XL is creating great angst in Canada.  Hillary was unrepentant.  The delay was warranted.  Keystone XL crossed an international border.  As such it fell to the State Department (which she led for four years) to review the pipeline and its impact on climate change.

Hillary really couldn’t comment because the decision rested with John Kerry, however she said it was  important not to let that decision—whatever it may be—colour US/Canada cooperation on environmental matters.  Hmmmm….

US Politics:  Hillary acknowledged that the US government had become more dysfunctional, but reminded us that the US has always had a “rambunctious boisterous political system”.  Well, I guess that’s one way to look at it. 

Nevertheless, extreme voices were getting more attention and the refusal to compromise was rooted in the promotion of political, commercial and personal agendas.  Citizens could break through this logjam by refusing to vote for “no compromise” candidates who undermine the basic principles of democracy.

The Presidency: Will she or won’t she?  Not surprisingly Hillary dodged the question, simply saying that this was not the time for announcements.  Her focus would be to help the country get its confidence back, to compromise on issues in order to move them forward and to make a contribution.

And with that she thanked us for our kind wishes and left the stage.

Who is Hillary?

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a perplexing personality.  She cares about social issues like the environment and healthcare (remember her unsuccessful attempt to reform the US healthcare system in the first 100 days of her husband’s term).

At the same time she’s the consummate politician.  She lost the presidential nomination to Obama…and then rose from the ashes as his secretary of state.  She’s staying in the public eye by making speeches all over the globe (at $200,000 a pop).* She recently hired Obama’s chief electoral strategist and will embark on a book tour this summer to promote her new book about her experience as secretary of state.*  Make no mistake; the presidential campaign is already underway.

She’s also funny.  Frank McKenna ribbed her about the US hockey team losing to Canada because the Americans erected a billboard at the border saying “Loser gets Bieber”.  Later he mentioned that Ted Cruz had been born in Calgary.  She retorted that given the choice, she’d take Bieber.

Which got me thinking…given a choice between Alison Redford and Justin Bieber, I’d take Bieber, in a heart beat.

*The Globe and Mail, Mar 7, 2014, A11 

This entry was posted in Energy & Natural Resources, Environment, Politics, Politics and Government, Rich and/or Famous, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Breakfast with Hillary Clinton

  1. Ted Woynillowicz says:

    Given the political system in the U.S. a Hilary Clinton presidency, if it were to happen, would essenttailly mean more of the same, a status quo government. Wouldn’t it rock the world, if by miracle, Senator Bernie Sanders were to win the presidential vote? We can dare to imagine.

    • Fair point Ted. The thing that struck me about Hillary was her candor. I think she was sincere about the need to address GHG and climate change and in her support for renewables. These are not comments one typically hears in Calgary! However the discussion about energy as a “diplomatic” tool was unnerving given that there’s no guarantee that Canada and the US will always be on the same side of an argument when it comes to scarce resources (water is going to be the next big battle ground–we have it, they don’t). Canadians must ensure that they’ll never be at the mercy of the US or any other government that wants to turn off the spigot. That means having a vision and a strategy that looks more than one election cycle into the future.

  2. Carlos Beca says:

    I still have not read this article, but I read something else I think that other people should

    Thank you

    • Carlos, excellent article. When you go through the list of the things Norway did right and Thatcher did wrong it really hits home.
      1. Insist on public participation (Statoil) in the North Sea projects because this gives the government an insider’s view on costs, prices and players
      2. Demand high taxes/royalties. The industry squawked at 90% and paid it anyway
      3. Stick with a reasonable pace of development instead of rip it and ship it as fast as you can
      4. Set aside a portion of the oil wealth in the rainy day fund…$830 billion and counting
      All this adds up to intergenerational equity–our children and our children’s children will also benefit from a resource that belongs to the people, not the government and certainly not industry.
      Our own government chose to follow Thatcher’s path–and has a little show for it at the end of the day as the UK. Sad.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes it is an excellent article. What is even more concerning is that I have shown this article to other people and some would say – ‘ Well that is all nice and dandy but we are not socialists, that is why we do it differently!’ Ideology in front of public interest and even our own future.
        Norway did it with the interest of their people in mind. We can no longer do that. I guess the UK does not have a society according to Tatcher, so they do not even bother with that point. Scary. Where is all this going to blow up?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan on your point 1, we actually did the opposite. In the 80s when the oil sands were just starting to pick up speed, the Alberta Government owned 11% of what was developed at the time. Smart Klein came in and with the Neo-Con communist like slogan ‘The Government is not in the business of doing business’ sold it to private interests. In those days they were blind with power and the message was easily accepted and so they wanted Government to be run like a business but not be part of business or any possibility of profit for the common good. None of that, the objective was to destroy any sign of government vitality and make public servants to be seen as check grabbers. Your other 3 points are self explanatory. We have absolutely nothing and the Oil companies have extremelly fat bank accounts even the ones working in Norway. There are of course many Conservative leaders with fat pensions somewhere in the world of out of reach banking.

  3. Carlos Beca says:

    This week your post was a surprise. I did not expect it.
    I do not admire Hillary Clinton as much as you seem to. When Bill Clinton was in power I read a bit about their lives simply as a curiosity and I was not impressed. I have to confess that I am not sure that all I have read is true, but I certainly got my mental guards up. They come across as one of those families that know which buttons to click in order to get what they want. Furthermore, Bill Clinton’s administration was nothing but a Republican dressed up as a Democrat. He was for sure the Democratic President that pushed the country to the right as much as possible without sounding extreme. He was responsible for the end of the market regulation which caused the disaster in 2008. This was of course the Glass-Steagall act of 1933 that was created to avoid what really happened. The removal of barriers in the market caused a tremendous expansion of non-existing money and the economy boomed based on nothing. We all know the results.
    Hillary is obviously a very smart person and I have no doubts that compared to what is around in the US today, she certainly is one of the favorites for the presidency, but I do not trust her. I am not really sure she cares about the environment or social issues. My feeling is that she cares about anything that makes people like and vote for her. I cannot read sincerity in her. Today there is only one Senator that I can say I trust in the US and that is Elizabeth Warren. She is a true democrat and a politician that takes her job seriously.
    Hillary to me is an American Alison Redford. She does not need to visit the Bilderberg Group to get famous. She is a very rich Alison Redford on steroids.

    • Carlos, to tell you the truth I’m conflicted about Hillary Clinton and had great difficulty writing the blog because I see her both as a politician and as a woman.

      I agree with much that you’ve said with respect to Bill Clinton’s administration. With respect to Hillary the politician I am troubled by her description of Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine because she overlooked the fact that the US is as much an empire builder as Russia. The difference is that when the Americans invade a country they call its “spreading freedom and democracy” but when Russia does it, it’s “intimidation and oppression”. This is hypocritical. However I believe Hillary was sincere when she expressed support for environmental regulations, enforcement and shifting to renewable energy. I contrast Hillary’s statements with Alison Redford’s rhetoric which is essentially (1) we have a great environmental protection program and (2) with respect to the oilsands it’s full steam ahead.

      With respect to the woman herself, Hillary has intelligence and grit. She’s applied it to rise to the top of the messy political heap that passes for democracy in the US. I contrast that to Alison who won the PC leadership by manipulating their goofy leadership selection process and then won the 2011 election by fanning the WR bozo eruption and making promises she couldn’t possibly keep.

      So like I said, I’m conflicted…Hillary responds to the political environment like a politician. Alison plays the Mommy Card.

      Having said all that I agree with you 100%–a better choice would be Elizabeth Warren, a woman who worked hard to prevent the 2008 global financial crash. We need more like her.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I am not sure why I even used Alison Redford to define Hillary Clinton. I do not think it is possible to compare at all. Hillary Clinton, regardless of whatever I believe is a high level politician, Alison Redford is some joke that fell on our laps and we are desperately trying to figure out how to get rid of her.
        This afternoon as I am sure you know, she dished out 600 million dollars for part of the Edmonton LRT. She is now in the clear process of buying everyone so that she does not get dumped on the streets. It is pathetic. I am not against the LRT at all, on the contrary but what happened to last year’s austerity? Oh I forgot, this is not part of the budget!!!! Oh gosh my advanced Alzheimer’s.

      • Carlos I watched the House today. The PCs discuss the interim supply bill (this bill asks for more money so the government can pay its bills until the end of March or whenever it is that they’ll approve the 2014 budget). The interim supply bill adds back $143 million for post secondary education after the yo-yo impact it had on our universities and millions more for Alberta’s doctors etc. So more money goes out to serve the PC’s political agenda.

        The WR made an interesting point. Smith said Redford’s zero based budgeting process is not working. So far the PCs managed to cut one full time position out of the department of Education and three full time positions out of the Dept of Tourism (this is the same department that required the taxpayer pay for the CEO of Tourism Alberta’s tux rental; guess he didn’t read the dress code).

        At the same time they’re asking the unions to take 0 to 4% over the next four years they’re boosting Redford’s office budget by 9.4% ($1.2 million). Hypocrisy abounds!

      • carlosbeca says:

        Susan I totally agree with you about the US versus Russia. John Kerry has the guts to say that Putin was occupying the Crimea against International law. Yes he is but what is so new about that? At least he has not killed one person so far. The US, like you say spreading ‘Democracy and Freedom’, invades Iraq, kills more than 100 thousand people, displaces 3 million and leaves the country in a state of emergency that will last 50 years if ever resolved. Hillary of course is an American and as far as she is concerned she is on the side of God and correctness. It is absolutely astounding to me. I fully agree with you.
        I think that another country is about to fall through the cracks and soon will be useless. Of course the Russians and the West will make sure they will contribute to their destruction. Lots of war business that neither can afford to lose. After all that is all both produce right now.

      • Carlos, Frank McKenna, the former Liberal leader of New Brunswick, made an interesting comment to Hillary in the Q and A session. He said that Canadians view the Can-US border as a one way mirror — “We see the US and you see yourselves”. So many US politicians are caught up in their own ideologies and myths that they can’t look at themselves with a critical eye. Hence the argument that when they invade a country it’s for that country’s own good but when someone else does it (particularly if that creates a threat to resources) then it’s time to go to war.

  4. Carlos Beca says:

    Hypocrisy abounds indeed. I totally agree with your comment.
    Frank McKenna’s comment is very smart and the reality.
    The US has such a complex of superiority that they do not even realize that other than in military terms, the world is leaving them behind. Just like those Empires before them, they do not even know how far back they are already. They rest on their Film celebrities and their overbloated army.

  5. Carlos Beca says:

    Why do we need experts investigating why young people do not even bother to vote.

    The answer is very simple – The younger generation believes that democracy is way more than a bunch of monkeys in a room. They learn that in school.
    I know exactly what these idiots deserve.

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