NDP leader Thomas Mulcair will be in Washington, DC and New York this week to meet with White House officials, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat leader in the House of Representatives, as well as key officials at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.
While in the United States, Mulcair reportedly won’t speak against the Keystone XL pipeline, but he will explain his support for west-to-east pipelines in Canada.
Mulcair says, “My position is that the Americans are going to sort themselves out (on Keystone XL) based on their own rules. …If you have a Canadian government that’s acting in the best interests of all Canadians, then moving (Alberta’s oil-sands crude) from west to east is important. …As a Canadian, I think that’s exactly the sort of big-vision project that has brought the country together in the past whether it was in the 1800s, when it was the railroad that held us together and allowed us to start as a country, to the 1930s and 40s with social programs that defined us all the way to the 1960s with health care. Long before we export, we should take care of our own energy security.”
While Mulcair intends to be mute on the Keystone XL pipeline, the Edmonton Journal reported this weekend Foreign Affairs minister John Baird saying, “We have a team in Washington (working to win approval for the Keystone XL pipeline), and it has been the No. 1 priority of our embassy for two years.”
On February 17, about 50,000 people rallied in Washington against the Keystone XL pipeline. Among the speakers at that ‘Forward On Climate’ protest were Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia, and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation in Alberta. Just after that rally, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “The real story here is the power of big oil on both sides of the border versus a growing movement in both Canada and the U.S. demanding an end to explosive growth in the tar sands and a transformation to an alternate and more sustainable energy future.”
The stakes are indeed very high. In mid-February, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. stated that as much as a third of tar sands growth – 450,000 barrels a day – could be put on hold between 2015 and 2017 if the Keystone XL pipeline is not approved by US President Barack Obama. 350.org founder Bill McKibben has described the KXL pipeline as “the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet”.