The leaders of two federal opposition parties welcomed news today that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden is poised to rescind a presidential permit allowing cross-border construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a decision that would effectively kill the long-delayed project.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said Biden’s expected move to block the project shows that the U.S. will soon be led by a committed “climate warrior” in Biden while Canada’s leadership is “not serious about tackling the climate emergency.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long supported the project — he backed the pipeline while running for the Liberal leadership in 2013 — which would have carried more than 800,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day to refineries in Texas.
The project has been championed by the oilpatch because it would allow Canadian producers to fetch prices closer to the going world rate.
Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, released a statement late Sunday saying the government “continues to support the Keystone XL project and the benefits that it will bring to both Canada and the United States.”
“This infrastructure will safely transport Canadian crude oil that is produced under one of the strongest environmental and climate policy frameworks in the world, and will strengthen the vital Canada-U.S. energy relationship,” she said.
According to Hillman, the project has “changed significantly since it was first proposed.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh applauded Biden’s expected executive action saying it contrasts with Trudeau’s continued support for some natural resources projects.
“I agree with that decision. I do not support the project,” Singh told reporters. “This is the direction that the future requires, we’ve got to fight the climate crisis.”
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Singh said the federal government needs to pivot from supporting oil-related projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to support “green” jobs — and lead the global transition away from extractive industries like the oil and gas sector to other, unspecified clean energy.
“Global markets are clearer than ever that the jobs of the future are jobs that help us fight the climate crisis and that’s where we need to make investments,” Singh said. “Justin Trudeau has failed on this.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, said a U.S. move to rescind the Keystone XL permits would further imperil Canada’s oil sector and the tens of thousands of jobs that are tied to the industry.
“This move will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis,” O’Toole said in a statement.
“I call on the Prime Minister to immediately reach out to the incoming U.S. administration to stop this from happening and stand up for working Canadians across Canada.”
The project has long been a thorn in the side of the Canada-U.S. relationship.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was openly critical of the former Democratic president, Barack Obama, who, like Biden is expected to do, blocked cross-border construction through executive action.
Harper predicted the pipeline would be built “with or without Obama,” something that will not be borne out now if Biden proceeds as planned.
U.S. President Donald Trump breathed new life into the project when he reversed Obama’s actions in 2017 and invited the proponent, TC Energy, to again apply for necessary permits.
Trump said the pipeline would secure North American energy independence and create well-paid unionized jobs.
Despite Trump’s support, the company faced an onslaught of legal action from Indigenous and environmental groups in states along the route — litigation that substantially delayed construction of the expansion project that was to connect with TC’s existing Keystone pipeline system.