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NEWS: Doer on the tar sands, Buy American, and Afghanistan

The Canwest News Service interviewed Gary Doer on Sunday just prior to Doer formally beginning his term as Canada’s new ambassador to the United States.

1. On balancing efforts to co-operate with Washington on climate change while also promoting Canada (and Alberta’s oil sands) as a reliable source of energy:

“I don’t think it is contradictory. We need reliable, affordable energy in North America, and we need it from a number of sources, including from fossil fuel … To me it’s not an either/or. We have an economy that does rely on the mobility of vehicles. But we also have now an agreement to have emissions standards that some of us were proposing a number of years ago. Canada and the United States are now moving in that area, and that will make a sizable difference on climate change. But it doesn’t mean to say we are going to completely eliminate the use of oil as part of our economy. And when you look at the issue of reliability of oil, Canada is by far the best place for the United States to consider, given some of the unpredictability in the rest of the world, both on pricing and availability. On the issue of the clean energy strategy, everybody knows where you start is energy efficiency – reducing the utilization of energy.”

2. On what he’ll tell Americans who ask him about the impact of oil sands on global warming:

“One of the concerns that I have, is that it represents so little of the emissions in North America. It’s getting a disproportionate amount of chatter. You’ve got to look at everything. How do you reduce emissions from coal? How do you increase the use of renewables? How do you have the increase in energy efficiency? All of these items have to be on the agenda. The fact that one project is discussed means that we’ve missed the big picture.”

3. On the state of negotiations to potentially exempt Canada from contentious ‘Buy American’ provisions in the U.S. stimulus bill:

“My view is, it’s a work in progress … One of the things about any negotiations is, if it’s not resolved, it’s not resolved.”

4. On what he’ll tell anyone in Washington who asks if Canada will extend its combat mission in Afghanistan past 2011:

“Parliament has made the decision and the Prime Minister has said he is implementing that decision. I respect that. That’s the mandate I have, and that’s the mandate I will communicate.”

The full interview is at