OTTAWA—NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair signalled Wednesday he would not support the Keystone XL pipeline project or any north-south oil or gas transmission project unless western petroleum resources were first available to the east.
Mulcair hailed the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama as a victory for “progressive” political forces and policies, adding, “I’m convinced we’ll see now” a carbon cap-and-trade system to help limit “greenhouse gas” emissions.
Mulcair suggested the prospect of continued political logjams in the U.S. congress was diminished by Obama’s victory: “I think that the beginning of this second term really does open up a whole new era.”
But whereas Conservatives are hopeful that Obama will soon act to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to move Alberta oilsands crude to U.S. refineries and markets once the state of Nebraska puts forward an alternate route, the NDP hopes the project remains on a backburner.
Last fall, Obama turned down the project proposed by Calgary’s TransCanada Corp. over U.S. environmental concerns, but left open the possibility the XL pipeline could be revisited in the coming year.
Mulcair said the priority for any Canadian government should lie elsewhere, adding any government he would lead would focus on the “sustainable development” of western oil resources.
He said the Conservatives should concentrate on ensuring Canadian “energy security needs,” promoting Canadian jobs, and better oil prices for this country’s producers.
Mulcair declined to say “No,” when it comes to Keystone XL, but left little doubt where he stands.
“We’re saying that as a matter of priority we should be bringing our petroleum products from west to east, taking care of Canada’s own energy security first and foremost. Anything else after that can be discussed, but as a matter of priority the NDP would try to work with partners in the private sector and with the provinces to make sure that we can do that: add the value here, add the jobs here, move product from west to east as a priority before adding more lines to the south, that’s the way we would do it.”
While he acknowledged it is up to the American government to approve projects on its own soil, Mulcair said “objective, outside analyses conclude that Keystone represents the export of 40,000 Canadian jobs.”
“We’re sending it south in the rawest possible form,” said Mulcair, without getting the benefit of jobs, nor getting a good price for the oil because of a current glut in U.S.
“A 10-year supply to the U.S. is a 100-year supply for Canada,” he told reporters. “We have an obligation as a state to take care of our own energy security for the future. We’re not doing that. We should be adding the jobs in Canada. We should be moving the product from west to east, always subject to a rigorous environmental review.
“But as a principle of sustainable development, no other country is doing what Canada’s doing right now and it’s a big mistake.”