Canadian prime minister 'disappointed' in Keystone decision

Canadian prime minister 'disappointed' in Keystone decision
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New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he is “disappointed” with President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline but that the U.S-Canada relationship is “bigger” than one contentious pipeline controversy. 

“We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision,” Trudeau said in a statement. “The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.”

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Trudeau was sworn in as prime minister this week, replacing conservative former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government had pushed hard for the approval of the Alberta-to-Nebraska pipeline project. 

Trudeau’s Liberal Party supports Keystone but made clear during the country’s recent campaign that it wouldn’t be an especially high priority for his government. 

“We know that Canadians want a government that they can trust to protect the environment and grow the economy,” he said Friday. “The Government of Canada will work hand-in-hand with provinces, territories and like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.”

Canada’s relationship with the United States is especially important to Trudeau.

Stephane Dion, the country’s new foreign minister, told reporters this week that the new government didn’t want the Keystone issue to sour relations between the two countries. 

"We don't want it to be an irritant,” he said, the Toronto Star reported Thursday. “We understand the Americans have to look at this very closely."

Obama said he informed Trudeau of his Keystone decision on Friday morning. He repeated Trudeau’s message about the importance of the U.S.-Canadian relationship during a press conference.

“We both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward,” Obama said Friday. 

“And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.”