January 13, 2017 4:01 pm
Updated: January 13, 2017 9:15 pm

Justin Trudeau under fire for saying he’ll ‘phase out’ oilsands

WATCH: Responding to a question about approving pipelines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "We can't shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels."

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The leader of Alberta’s Wildrose party says Justin Trudeau’s comments Friday about a “phase out” of the oilsands have “confirmed Albertans’ worst fears.”

“He wants to shut down Alberta’s oilsands,” Brian Jean said on his Facebook page, where he posted video of the prime minister’s remarks at a town hall in Ontario. “Let him be warned; he’ll have to go through me and four million other Albertans first.”

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Speaking in Peterborough, Ont., Trudeau was asked how the Liberal government could protect the environment and be aware of climate change while still approving pipelines.

A man asked: “I appreciate your words on global warming and climate change, though imagine my shock when I saw the Kinder Morgan pipeline going through (applause) as the result of a flawed process that you agreed was flawed in the first place and needed to be replaced. Now, with the election in the south, I think Keystone XL is going to rear its ugly head again and I’d like to know what the policy of your government really is going to be on climate change, global warming and pipelines.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s win doesn’t change Canada’s carbon pricing plan: Trudeau

Trudeau said it’s a fundamental responsibility of government to get the country’s resources to market in a responsible, sustainable and inclusive manner.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau faces tough questions on day 2 of cross-Canada road trip

“I’ve said time and time again — and you’re all tired of hearing me say it — you can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy.

“We can’t shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out, we need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels. That is going to take time and in the meantime, we have to manage that transition.”

READ MORE: Pan-Canadian climate plan announced without Saskatchewan, Manitoba 

He said part of the transition would be putting a price on carbon.

“Alberta has now put an absolute cap on oilsands emissions and that absolute cap is folded into our plan,” Trudeau said.

“So the question isn’t, Are we going to shut down the oilsands tomorrow? It’s, We’ve put a limit on oilsands emissions that people are going to have to stay under.”

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau confronted by sobbing Ontario woman over cost of hydro bill 

“This shows how Trudeau really feels about Alberta and working families,” Jean said in his Facebook post.

In a news release, he said Trudeau had “confirmed Albertans’ worst fears about his Liberal government and its plans for our energy sector.”

Jean said the economic benefits of the oilsands are “immeasurable” and provide hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for Canadians. He also pointed out their revenues have been “gobbled up” in equalization payments.

Watch below: For the second time in a week, comments made about slowing down development in Alberta’s oilsands generated a wave of anger. On Tuesday it was Jane Fonda and on Friday it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Tom Vernon reports.

In a video posted to Twitter Friday afternoon, Premier Rachel Notley said the oilsands are “not going anywhere anytime soon.”

“How long into the future will the world need oil?” she questioned. “Oil and gas will help power the global economy for generations to come. And our job is to make sure that Alberta’s product is the first in line. That’s why we’re working with industry to position Alberta as a global energy leader.

“The bottom line: Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the people who work in it are the best in the world and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Alberta’s Liberal leader asked that Trudeau clarify the comments.

“All of us, including the oil and gas industry, already recognise that we are in a transition to cleaner energy,” David Swann said. “In the current international economic climate the industry does not need any more uncertainty about its future. We need our prime minister to not only support this industry, the economic engine of the country, but to communicate that clearly.”

“I want to be very clear that we support the oilsands development and it’s important that we see these oilsands as part of a transition to a cleaner economy, cleaner energy,” Swann told Global News. “So, let’s not be hasty, let’s not be arbitrary, let’s be sure that we get this transition right and ensure that we don’t disrupt either economies or jobs or indeed the international markets with this.”

“Given Justin Trudeau’s recent pipeline approvals I believe he should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clarify his remarks,” Swann said.

READ MORE: Helicopter pilot opens up about Jane Fonda’s oilsands tour: ‘she was being given so much misinformation’ 

PC interim leader Ric McIver said he was disappointed by Trudeau’s comments.

“It’s unfortunate to see him side with Hollywood celebrities by vowing to phase out our oilsands,” McIver said. “Albertans expect better from our Prime Minister.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc

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