August 4, 2011 by Colin Horgan
There is nothing exceptional in the fact Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is headed to Washington today to visit to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What is exceptional is that no one seems to want to talk about it.
“Minister Baird looks forward to discussing a number of important initiatives of mutual interest,” was all spokesman Chris Day offered.
One issue sure to come up is the State Department’s upcoming ruling on the TransCanada Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that would link central Alberta with the Gulf of Mexico. The House of Representatives voted in late July to force the State Department to make a decision by Nov. 1.
In June, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency expressed concerns about “environmental impacts” of the project, “as well as the level of analysis and information provided concerning those impacts.”
However, Baird will urge the U.S. to approve the pipeline. Expansion of energy markets has been a central theme for the Conservative government. During his recent trip to China, Baird told reporters that Canada has “a strategic partner, whether it’s on energy, natural resources, international affairs.”
During his visit, Baird met with representatives of PetroChina, though did not expand on that meeting. With Canada pushing to expand its natural resources market beyond the U.S., the Keystone pipeline decision could be a key component of Thursday’s meeting and future talks.
The two foreign ministers will also likely discuss the joint Canada-U.S. security framework that was signed in February. There is hope an agreement will be reached by the end of the year.
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