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Trade Minister Ed Fast says Alberta oil more ‘ethical’ for U.S.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ont.,Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta's oil sands crude isn't just close by and from a friendly ally but it's more "ethical" than oil from places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela, International Trade Minister Ed Fast said Wednesday as he wrapped up a visit to Washington.

Only a day after President Barack Obama made it clear that he would reject the Keystone XL pipeline – the controversial project to funnel 830,000 barrels a day from Alberta's vast oil sands across America to refineries along the Gulf Coast – unless it can be proven not to exacerbate carbon emissions, Mr. Fast said Canadian crude was not only greener, but more ethical than other oils.

"The ecological footprint of oil extracted from our oil sands when compared to oil from places like Venezuela and Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, …. our oil sands represent a sustainable, ethical and responsible source of oil for the United States."

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Mr. Fast said the values shared by Canada and the United States should make Alberta's crude a preferred source.

Although both opponents of TransCanada Corp.'s long-delayed, $5.3-billion Keystone XL project and it's advocates opted to interpret the President's statement as favourable, no decision is expected until the fall.

"I don't believe the President gave any indication either way as to what he would be deciding," Mr. Fast said.

During his two-day visit, the minister also met with Michael Froman, the President's newly confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative.

"I'm absolutely confident that we will have a very productive working relationship as we seek to build on what is already the greatest trade relationship in the world," Mr. Fast said, although he conceded that the relationship occasionally hit a snag.

The brouhaha over the Peace Bridge – one of the busiest linking Canada and the United States – which apparently was ended Wednesday when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a resolution was typical, the minister said.

"The most successful trade relationship in the world is very much like a marriage," he said. "My wife and I, from time to time, have disagreements and it's an indicator of the strength of the relationship that we are always able to resolve outstanding issues between us. That's the way it is with our relationship with the United States, quite frankly we almost always get those irritants resolved; the Peace Bridge is another example of that."

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