Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has vowed to press U.S. president-elect Joe Biden to reverse his opposition to the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project.
Mr. Champagne on Sunday said he will make the case to Mr. Biden that the US$11.5-billion pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil to U.S. Midwest refineries, offers the United States a reliable, secure source of energy from a supplier working to reduce its carbon footprint.
TC Energy Corp.'s 830,000 barrel-a-day project was approved by Canadian regulators in 2010 but blocked in 2015 by then-U.S. president Barack Obama. He heeded the advice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmentalists, who said it would hasten climate change and encourage the use of fossil fuels.
Mr. Biden, who was vice-president under Mr. Obama, also opposes the 1,950-kilometre pipeline, and has said he will cancel the building permit issued by President Donald Trump in 2017.
TC Energy, which did not respond to an interview request on Sunday, has said the project would provide thousands of good jobs, and pointed to U.S. government reviews that say it can be built safely.
Speaking on CBC current affairs program Rosemary Barton Live, Mr. Champagne said convincing Mr. Biden of the need for the project is his priority in approaching the incoming U.S. administration.
“This is top of the agenda,” Mr. Champagne said. “We’re going to be making our case, saying that Canada is the most reliable energy supplier to the United States, predictable, we’ve been working together for, for decades now. It’s all about energy security in North America.”
“We will be working very closely with the federal government to emphasize the strong case for Keystone XL with the incoming U.S. administration, and have in fact already been discussing our joint approach with Ottawa,” Kavi Bal, press secretary to Alberta’s energy minister Sonya Savage, said in an e-mail Sunday.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made the case for his province in a weekend statement. “U.S. energy security is dependent on Alberta as the United States' largest source of oil imports," he said. "Much of the American economy is fuelled by Alberta energy. We look forward to working with president-elect Biden’s transition team and future administration to ensure that this vital economic partnership continues.”
Mr. Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 U.S. election offers Canada – and the rest of the world – a chance to reset relations with the world’s biggest economy. Under Mr. Trump, U.S. trade policy was subject to the whims and tweets of the Oval Office resident and an America First approach that erected protectionist barriers to imports but raised prices for the very U.S. consumers Mr. Trump professed to be defending.
He declared Canadian steel and aluminum imports as threats to national security, and slapped them with tariffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. He did this even as the two countries and Mexico were renewing a long-standing free-trade agreement. The tariffs were eventually dropped, but the threat of them has not gone away.
Canada’s exporters say they expect a return to co-operation and stable trade relations with a U.S. administration headed by Mr. Biden, who is to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Jean Simard, chief executive officer of the Aluminium Association of Canada, said he hopes Canada-U.S. relations will move from confrontation to collaboration, and that the next president lifts the threat of seemingly random tariffs that slow trade. “I do think the Biden administration, and Mr. Biden himself, sees Canada as an ally and a friend,” Mr. Simard said by phone.
“Hopefully the new administration will move to get Canada out of this nonsensical ‘threat to national security tariff’ approach,” added Mr. Simard, who represents the three big aluminum producers in Canada: Alcoa, Alouette and Rio Tinto. The companies smelt a total of 3.2 million tonnes a year, and export 90 per cent of that to the buyers in the United States.
Mr. Trump’s trade tactics also hit another Canadian export, pork. He accused China of stealing U.S. jobs and intellectual property, and imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese imports. China’s retaliatory taxes on U.S. pork and other agricultural products were bad news for Canada’s pig farmers. They faced a steep drop in North American prices for their livestock amid a glut caused by the slowdown in Chinese buying.
Gary Stordy, director of government affairs for the Canadian Pork Council, said the farmers' group is keen to see how the new U.S. administration will address its trade policy with China. “It may or may not change,” Mr. Stordy said in an interview. “We’re just really looking for some stability going forward.”
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