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Trudeau backs Trump on Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his support for Keystone XL in two recent telephone conversations with US President Donald Trump.

Justin Trudeau is applauding US President Donald Trump’s approval of the 830,000 barrel per day Keystone XL export pipeline.

The Toronto Star reports, “[Trump’s] executive action instructs Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a proponent of the pipeline and the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, to make a decision within 60 days of receiving TransCanada’s application. Trump spokesman Sean Spicer left no doubt about what the decision will be, saying the president wants it made ‘as quick as possible’. Trump’s decision was applauded by Trudeau [who says] ‘I’ve been on the record for many years supporting it.”

In October 2013, Trudeau stated, “My support for Keystone is steadfast. The fact that I’d be talking positively about the project I think got people thinking about the fact that perhaps it’s not as bad as it’s been caricatured.” And Trudeau has confirmed that in both of his conversations with Trump (that took place after Trump’s election win in November 2016 and just last weekend) that he reiterated his support for the pipeline.

Filling the Keystone XL pipeline with tar sands crude would facilitate a 36 per cent increase in current tar sands production and increase greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 22 million tonnes a year. The 1,897 kilometre pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, Texas would also cross numerous waterways and put drinking water at risk. The pipeline would also cross the territories of the Dene and Creek Nations to the Omaha, Ho-chunk and Panka tribes which say the US government has failed to adequately consult them despite the direct effect the pipeline would have on their land and waters.

Council of Canadians campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust comments, “The Keystone XL pipeline proposal is the third export pipeline that Trudeau has supported in the last two months despite strong evidence that pipelines aren’t needed, will contribute to expanding the tar sands, and will prevent us from reaching our climate goals. This further reinforces the failure of the Trudeau government’s climate aspirations that are now literally only a pipe dream.”

Yesterday Trump also signed an executive order that will seek to maximize the use of American steel in the building of the pipeline and has previously stated “I want a piece of the profits” from the pipeline. It’s unclear what precisely that last comment may mean, but it has raised speculation about a “border adjustment tax” on oil and gas entering the United States.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has pointed out that ‘Buy American’ policies and border adjustment taxes are both violations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Following yesterday’s announcements, Barlow tweeted, “So Trump says Keystone pipeline must use American steel and workers and TransCanada must pay to cross the US! Violates NAFTA! Trudeau?!?”

The Council of Canadians travelled to Washington numerous times to join protests against Keystone XL, including calling on the Canadian embassy in August 2011 to demand that they stop lobbying for the pipeline, participating in the Surround the White House action in November 2011, and the Forward on Climate protest in February 2013.

We will continue to oppose Keystone XL.