After some investigation by Colin Slater we have learned that the lsst/__init__.py files do not need to import lsstimport from the base package. The library loader flags are no longer relevant for our pybind11 packages.
Furthermore we have learned that the lsstcppimport is required but is only required by some packages that are using afw C++ interfaces.
We therefore propose the following:
1. Replace lsstimport.py with an empty stub file that does nothing.
2. Force afw to import lsstcppimport.
In a later ticket we will remove the lsst/__init__.py files from all the LSST python packages. Once that is done lsstimport.py can be removed from base package.