Harper says pipeline debate should be left to Canadians
Any decision on developments such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline should be left to Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.One reason for the Gateway pipeline would be to carry oil from the oil sands to the West Coast, where it would be available for sale to China. This need has become more pressing for Canada because of the Obama administration's dithering (and apparent wish to kill) the Keystone Pipeline, designed to carry oil sands oil to the US Gulf coast refineries. US environmental organizations oppose the Keystone pipeline on the basis that the oil produced has a high CO2 "footprint" and will encourage global
"It's one thing in terms of whether Canadians, you know, want jobs, to what degree Canadians want environmental protection. These are all valid questions," Harper said in an exclusive interview Monday with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge. "But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don't think that's part of what our review process is all about."
The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project is a proposal by Canadian oil and gas company Enbridge to build two pipelines stretching 1,177 kilometres between the Alberta oilsands and the West Coast. The Northern Gateway would have the capacity to transport 525,000 barrels of oil per day.
Apparently, US environmental groups are also active in Canada, attempting to influence Canadian decisions with American money.
Just before hearings on the project began, Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver raised the issue of foreign money going to environmental groups earlier this month. The groups say they get a small amount of funding from outside of Canada and that the government is trying to refocus the debate when much of the investment in the oilsands comes from outside of Canada.
"I don’t object to foreigners expressing their opinion," Harper told CBC News. "But I don’t want them to be able to hijack the process so that we don’t make a decision that's timely or in the interests of Canadians."