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NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (left) and BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix (right) speak to reporters Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has waded into the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline debate, predicting the demise of the project as he attempted to rally support in British Columbia on Wednesday.

"I don't think the Northern Gateway is on," Mr. Mulcair said after a news conference in Vancouver.

"The smart money is on that project not going through."

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Mr. Mulcair seized on a report this week from the U.S National Transportation Safety Board criticizing the company's handling of a 2010 spill in Michigan to back his view that the project is unsound.

While the NDP leader said he will await a federal review of the proposed 1,170-kilometre pipeline between Alberta's oil sands and the B.C coast central to the project, he said he doubted anything in it would soften his opposition.

"We're going to read it with great interest, but it's not going to change my fundamental view that Northern Gateway is not a good project," he said during a news conference outside the Kitsilano coast guard station to criticize federal plans to close it.

"There are so many issues involving the environment, but the most important one is those supertankers with the raw bitumin in them off your pristine coast with those extremely fragile ecosystems – and I can't see how anyone could be in favour of that."

He said spills in Alaska are a lesson against the project.

Mr. Mulcair said he is not aware of any looming new technology for oil shipments that would encourage him to change his mind.

The federal NDP Leader's views are in synch with those of B.C NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who appeared with him at the news conference.

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On another issue, the NDP leader was amused by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's assertion, during the Calgary Stampede, that Calgary is "the greatest city" in Canada.

He said he aspires to be the representative of all Canadians and appreciate the values of all cities.

Mr. Mulcair noted Vancouver "is one of the most beautiful places in the world," but he found beauty in other cities such as St. John's and Quebec City.

"You have to be able to appreciate the full country."

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