December 21, 2016 8:00 am
Updated: December 21, 2016 7:55 pm

Justin Trudeau discusses Donald Trump, pipelines, climate change at Calgary event

WATCH ABOVE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Calgary Wednesday, speaking to a sold out chamber of commerce crowd full of business and energy leaders. As David Boushy reports, Trudeau shared some positive news for the oil patch, regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says if the United States takes a step back on fighting climate change under Donald Trump, Canada will capitalize.

After a Calgary speech to business owners, Trudeau was asked whether he was committed to his climate plan, which includes a national price on carbon, even if it makes Canada less competitive with the U.S. under the incoming president, who has sent mixed messages on the climate issue.

“Let’s see what the president actually does once he becomes president and what he says and let’s not overreact ahead of time. But the challenge of climate change isn’t a debate or linked to a political ideology. It’s a fact,” Trudeau responded Wednesday.

“We know that this is the way the world is going and if the United States wants to take a step back from it, quite frankly, I think we should look at that as an extraordinary opportunity for Canada and for Canadians.”

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He said that opportunity exists with investors who are looking 10 to 20 years down the road.

“Being strong on the environment and strong on the economy go together,” he told reporters.

READ MORE: Diplomatic notes show Canadian officials struggled with Donald Trump’s ‘unpredictability’

Trump has sent mixed signals on whether he will try to slow Earth’s warming temperatures and rising sea levels.

Since he was elected, Trump has met with prominent climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s suggested his daughter Ivanka, a close adviser, has a particular interest in the issue and could be his envoy.

But he has also tapped oil industry champions for his cabinet, men who say they’re determined to reverse President Barack Obama‘s efforts to rein in emissions.

READ MORE: In Conversation with PM Justin Trudeau: #trudeautalk2016

Trudeau has been largely circumspect in commenting on Trump’s pending presidency, but in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week, the prime minister emphasized that he would not hesitate to protect Canadian interest and values if they clash with Trump’s agenda. He acknowledged that Trump’s plan to deport large numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants could have an effect on Canada.

“We know how integrated and interdependent the Canadian and American economies are and I look forward to working closely and collaboratively with multiple levels of government, including the incoming administration,” he said in Calgary.

Trudeau also touted his government’s recent approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Line 3 improvements.

He said he is “extremely confident” that those projects will be built despite some stiff opposition, particularly in British Columbia. Many indigenous communities have signed on already and he said he doesn’t expect the same level of opposition seen in North Dakota at Standing Rock.

Trudeau reiterated praise for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, saying her climate change plan which puts a cap on oilsands emissions allowed the approval of the two pipeline projects.

“The mentality of the last 10 years of ‘No, we shouldn’t be worrying about the environment, we should just be focused on building every single pipeline we possibly can’ didn’t get the job done,” he said.

“Quite frankly, the fact that there are a number of opposition politicians out there who bizarrely seem to be crossing their fingers that this pipeline will not get built under this current government I think is really dismaying and should be dismaying for Albertans. We all need to work together to demonstrate that we are going to get these pipelines built.”

TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling said he was “very pleased” about the pipeline approvals, citing “huge economic benefits.”

“Tremendous to see our government in support of projects that are important, not just to Alberta but to Canada as a whole and to North America as a whole,” he said. “I’ve always said it’s a very important project and has huge economic benefits…and even more importantly, safety and environmental benefits.”

The visit to Alberta follows a stop in Vancouver on Tuesday where Trudeau announced two emergency towing vessels will operate on the West Coast and help keep large disabled commercial ships away from the shoreline.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau speaks in Calgary

READ MORE: Alberta pushes to diversify oil-laden economy

With files from Global News

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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