World
Obama risking Canadian relationship, former ambassador says

Credits: REUTERS

MARK DUNN | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA -- Canada should be peeved by comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama on whether enough is being done to curb greenhouse gas emissions north of the border, says a former U.S. ambassador.

David Wilkins said that of the top five countries that supply oil to the United States, Canada is the only one with regulations to control carbon.

"I think that's a real insult to Canada," Wilkins said in an interview with Sun News.

"I can't see us saying that to China or to other countries about 'you've got to change your regulations in order for us to trade with you.'

"It's not good policy. It makes very little sense."

Wilkins was ambassador to Canada from 2005 until 2009.

Canada, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela are key suppliers of oil to the U.S., he said.

Wilkins was responding to Obama's remarks questioning the validity of the number of jobs the Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf Coast would create.

The president says 2,000 compared to the 20,000 pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. promises and the more than 40,000 his government announced this year.

Obama also suggested Canada could do more to lower emissions as he awaits a final State Department report this summer which many expect will mirror a draft report that said the $7.6 billion pipeline would have little impact on emissions because Alberta crude would get to market one way or another.

That claim is supported by a nearly four-fold increase in oil shipments south by rail since 2012.

Wilkins said he's also astonished at the length of time that has been devoted to approving Keystone XL, even joking World Wars have been won faster.

And he warned the Canada-U.S. relationship will suffer if Obama ignores the evidence and rejects the pipeline.

"We are each other's biggest trading partner. We are each other's best friend and we ought to treat each other that way. The biggest loser will be the relationship."

International Trade Minister Ed Fast echoed other ministers who said they are confident the pipeline will proceed on merit.

"We want to make sure that we do this as safe as possible," he said Tuesday. "I think some of the recent events in Quebec have driven home that pipelines are a safe way of transporting oil."

Fast was referring to the tragedy that befell Lac-Megantic when a runaway oil train devastated the Eastern Townships community.


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