Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Harper miscalculated Keystone XL anger, opposition parties say

Harper miscalculated Keystone XL anger, opposition parties say
By Jessica Murphy ,Parliamentary Bureau

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bob Rae Liberal Leader Bob Rae speaks to the media following Question Period in the Foyer of the House of Commons at Parliament Hill in Ottawa Nov 14, 2011. (ANDRE FORGET /QMI AGENCY)

OTTAWA - The Harper government is underestimating the political weight the aversion to the Keystone XL pipeline and Alberta's oilsands has, opposition parties have charged.

"We have to do a much, much better job in looking at where we're facing opposition," interim Liberal leader Bob Rae told reporters Monday, highlighting the environmental concerns being raised in the United States and by the European Union.

"You can't ignore those concerns, those views."

The Liberals support the development of the oilsands and say Ottawa should have done a better job of selling the product to the U.S.

The New Democrats, meanwhile, are backing U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement last week to delay a decision on the $7 billion pipeline until after the 2012 elections south of the border.

Obama was hit with vocal opposition from environmentalists and other activists who feared the pipeline project would raise greenhouse gases and threatened sensitive areas.

"There are a lot of concerns and there's no need to rush this decision until there's a clear plan of where we're going with this pipeline," said NDP natural resources critic Claude Gravelle.

Gravelle and NDP environmental critic Megan Leslie are heading to

Washington, D.C., Tuesday in a bid, they say, to show a different face of Canada to U.S. lawmakers opposed the proposal.

Gravelle also slammed the Conservatives for failing to set up a national energy strategy with a focus on developing green sources of fuel.

But Industry Minister Christian Paradis, calling the Obama administration's decision "distressing," brushed off the NDP solution to focus on green energy while limiting further development of the oilsands.

"We all want clean energy - but the transition doesn't happen at the snap of a finger," he said, noting the demand for oil was still - and would remain - strong for a long time.

The Conservatives have instead cast their eyes to developing Asian countries as a potential market for Canadian crude.

Speaking to reporters early Monday during a trip to Beijing, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada has a strong interest in deepening ties with China and other lucrative Asian markets.

"China has been investing substantially in Canadian resources in the last few years," he noted. "Their investment is welcome."


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