Alberta’s new premier Alison Redford wants Canadian politicians to stop lobbying their American counterparts regarding the controversial Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
Her plea, made Thursday, just days after her visit to Washington, extends to proponents of the pipeline, as well as those who have gone to the U.S. capital in an effort to have the project killed. The Harper government has criticized NDP politicians who recently lobbied American lawmakers to block TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $7-billion project.
When Ms. Redford was asked about the NDP’s trip to Washington, her criticism stretched to those working to convince the U.S. to approve the project.
“I believe it is not appropriate for federal members of Parliament to be doing that,” she said regarding the NDP trip. “I believe the process that is going on in the United States is a domestic process. We need to respect and I think all Canadians should respect that whatever side of the project they might be on,” she continued.
“It is not appropriate for us to be providing advice to American decision-makers in that context and be political activists,” she said in a press conference in Ottawa. “I am not at all supportive of that and I’m disappointed about it.”
The energy industry and Tories in Alberta and Ottawa have been fierce supporters of the proposed pipeline, which would connect the oil sands to refineries on Texas’ Gulf Coast. The Obama administration must approve the project, and last week delayed its decision until after the 2012 election. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barak Obama spoke about the consequences of the delay at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Honolulu.
Ms. Redford, who visited Washington Monday and New York Tuesday, argued her trip was different than the NDP’s effort.
“My visit was not with respect to lobbying for or against the project. I had a number of meetings in Washington where the issue came up,” she said. “But whenever I had meetings, and the reason my meetings were arranged and the purpose of my meetings, was to discuss North American energy strategy, to discuss Alberta’s role generally with respect to partnering with the United States.”
She also said her role as Alberta’s leader – a position she has held for six weeks – is different than members of Parliament.
“I am privileged enough to hold right now is to be a premier of a province that has a certain set of economic interests, social interests and environmental interests, whereas what we see going on right now is members of Parliament who certainly represent their constituencies, but that’s the extent of their representation in terms of a Canadian perspective on this issue.”
Alberta has long had a lobbying presence in Washington, and Ms. Redford last week appointed Dave Bronconnier, the former Calgary mayor, to fill that role for the next nine months. An interim envoy has held the position since March, when Gary Mar vacated the post to run for the leader of Alberta’s ruling party.