Canadian opposition leader: Government playing US 'for fools' on Keystone

Canada’s Keystone proponents have touted the nation’s environmental practices in various U.S. speeches and meetings.

Ostensibly, the goal is to convince U.S. policymakers that Canada wouldn’t back Keystone if it were as bad for the climate and environment as opponents claim.

But Mulcair said those statements were dishonest.

“In the U.S. people know how to read. They know that Canada is the only country that has withdrawn from (the) Kyoto (Protocol). They know that the Conservatives can’t possibly meet their Copenhagen targets (on greenhouse gas emissions) precisely because of the oil sands.”

He called Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party “out of step with the whole planet” and “weak and disinterested on the environment.”

The proposed Keystone pipeline would send a dense, carbon-intensive form of oil from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.

A recent State Department draft environmental report said Keystone would not accelerate oil sands development or significantly impact the climate — dismissing green groups’ central arguments for nixing the pipeline.

Still, President Obama alone has the ability to decide Keystone’s fate because it crosses national borders.

That has put the project at the center of an intense lobbying battle.

Business groups, some unions and Canadian officials are pushing hard for its approval. They say Obama would be turning his back on jobs and energy from a friendly neighbor if he rejects Keystone.

Among the Canadian officials that have visited the U.S. to press the case for Keystone are Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

Greens, on the other hand, want to scrap the pipeline. They say doing otherwise would amount to Obama betraying recent comments about combating climate change.

Mulcair said he agreed with that rationale, and urged Obama to kill Keystone.

“Global warming is a real issue,” Mulcair said. “President Obama couldn’t be clearer. We’ve got to start taking this seriously. The only country in the world that has withdrawn from Kyoto is Canada under the Conservatives. We find that that is a scandal.”