The failure to move the yardsticks on the Keystone XL pipeline falls squarely on the shoulders of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper’s refusal to implement credible environmental policy over the past nine years has deeply damaged Canada’s economic interests and international reputation. His diplomatic miscues on the Keystone file have made the situation worse.
This $8 billion project would have connected Canadian oil with refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast. That would narrow the discount on the price of our oil relative to world markets, boosting our economy and employment.
What should have been a win-win proposition has dragged on for years due to Mr. Harper’s tin ear. He deeply misjudged the President, who had directly linked the approval of this project to the need for greater action from Canada on climate change. Instead of addressing President’s legitimate concerns, Mr. Harper tried to spin and bully to get his way, spending millions on ads and telling a group of American businessmen that “you don’t take no for an answer”.
These tactics did not work on the President of the United States. This is a failure of one of a Canadian Prime Minister’s central responsibilities: to get Canadian resources to market.
A failure of this magnitude was unthinkable between Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, or between Jean Chrétien and Bill Clinton.
To get projects approved, you need leadership that works well with others. But this is a Prime Minister who will not meet with premiers or Indigenous Leaders, who calls those who want to safeguard the environment eco-terrorists, and who cancelled the three amigos conference with Mexico and the United States.
There is a better way. Liberals recognize that progress depends on regaining public trust. A Liberal government will work with provinces and territories to establish a pan-Canadian framework to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. It will give each the flexibility to design their own policies best suited to their situation to meet these commitments, including carbon pricing.
With credible environmental policies and astute diplomacy, Keystone XL can move forward. The sooner, the better.
Geoff Regan, MP
Liberal Critic for Natural Resources