Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Canada won’t stop trying to convince U.S. president-elect Joe Biden of the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted Tuesday.

But even Trudeau’s full-throated defence of the controversial cross-border project, which Biden appears poised to cancel on Wednesday, betrayed a note of resignation.

Asked pointedly what he planned to do to rescue the US$8-billion project, the prime minister lingered instead on what he’d done already, including his November phone call with the president-elect.

He said it would be Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s envoy in Washington, pressing Ottawa’s case with what he described as the “highest levels” of the Biden team.

And he acknowledged the elephant in the room: that Biden’s campaign team promised back in May that it would do precisely what transition documents suggest will happen Wednesday.

“We understand, of course, that it is a commitment that … the candidate Joe Biden made to cancel this pipeline,” Trudeau said.

“At the same time, we continue to demonstrate the leadership that Canada has shown on fighting climate change and on ensuring energy security as a priority for North America.”

Those documents, reviewed by The Canadian Press, suggest an executive order rescinding the presidential permit issued by Donald Trump is among the items on Biden’s Day 1 to-do list.

Environmental groups briefed on the incoming administration’s plan also say they have been told it would come on Biden’s first day in the White House.

Advocates for the project, however, are clinging to hope that the ensuing outcry — the Alberta government is already threatening legal action — will prompt the Biden team to give them a chance to change the president-elect’s mind.

The politically fraught project, originally proposed in 2008, aims to deliver more than 800,000 additional barrels a day of diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

It has long been a linchpin in Canada’s strategy for boosting fossil-fuel exports by delivering Alberta’s landlocked underground energy resources to tidewater.

It has also become a lightning rod in both countries for the perennial debate over climate change, economic growth and society’s long-standing dependence on fossil fuels.

As a result, it never found favour among the Democrats in Barack Obama’s White House, which included Biden as vice-president. That administration slow-walked the approval process for the better part of eight years, much to the frustration of then-prime minister Stephen Harper, until outright rejecting it in 2015.

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has for months framed Keystone XL as a vastly different, more environmentally friendly project than the original.

In a late bid to win favour with Biden, pipeline owner TC Energy Corp. confirmed Sunday an ambitious plan to spend US$1.7 billion on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030.

Canada’s approach to climate change more broadly has also evolved since then, Trudeau said.

“Canada has, in the intervening few years, become a global leader in the fight against climate change and moving forward in transforming our economy in important ways towards reducing emissions,” Trudeau said.

“I trust that we will be heard, that our arguments will be considered.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Sylvan Lake has launched a new contest to attract a new business. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

The cover of “Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care.” (Submitted)
Ponoka-born author writes history of old mental hospital

“Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care” covers 1911 to 1971

Jacqueline Buffalo. (Photo submitted)
TikTok connects Indigenous women during pandemic

Maskwacis influencers share their stories

Most Read