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Kinsman: Who needs Keystone XL more, Canada or the United States?

By: /
17 May, 2013
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Obviously, Canada. That it is so obvious Canada needs it more is not the outcome which works for us. But it’s what we demonstrate every day in every way.

Trans-Canada and the Harper Government’s assumptions going into this issue were that this was a “no-brainer” (the talking point for Canada’s missions in the U.S., repeated endlessly and counter-productively).

Things changed. Evidence emerged the U.S. could become self-sufficient in energy in several years via new applications to develop non-conventional national energy assets. The U.S. was no longer such an easy sell on Keystone’s merits. The company was way behind the curve, having used a pushy heavy hand against good local people, and counting on old-time lobbyists to do the usual in Washington – the wrong people, the wrong messages.

In probably the most bone-headed foreign policy ineptitude on record, the Canadian government and the tone-deaf oil executives they were working with just didn’t get the environmental issue at all.

What was required was a transparent and sincere plan for abatement in the oil sands. Those of us who want to see Keystone XL happen for the sake of Canadian development, really urged such a plan. Alison Redford got it. Not the blowhards and braggarts behind “ethical oil” and the other inanities that have defined the Canadian approach.

I think Obama will approve Keystone XL, reluctantly, but I’m not sure. It isn’t a “no-brainer.” He knows Canada has made his position more difficult. We have lost a lot of points in the White House by being both dumb and self-involved.

The continent needs an energy/environment plan in which Canadian energy would be a core component but including Canadian environmental innovation against carbon enhancement as a clear and active commitment. There is still no indication the Harper Government gets it. Oliver just blathers on from inside his bubble.

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