Justin Trudeau says he misspoke when he said we need to ‘phase out’ oilsands

Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau says he ‘misspoke’ after commenting Canada should phase out oilsands'
Justin Trudeau says he ‘misspoke’ after commenting Canada should phase out oilsands
WATCH ABOVE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday during the Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary that he ‘misspoke’ about phasing out oilsands, something that caused controversy in Alberta – Jan 24, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he should have chosen different words when he talked about phasing out the oilsands earlier this month and unleashed anger in economically ailing Alberta.

“I misspoke,” he said Tuesday at the end of a two-day cabinet retreat in downtown Calgary, where the prolonged downturn in oil prices has emptied out floors and floors of office space.

“I said something the way I shouldn’t have said it.”

Trudeau enraged many in Alberta when he said of the oilsands: “We need to phase them out.”

“We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels,” he told a town-hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont. “That is going to take time. And, in the meantime, we have to manage that transition.”

Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean responded by saying that Trudeau would have to go through him and four million other Albertans first.

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Watch below: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he misspoke when he suggested production at Alberta’s oilsands would be phased out. Tom Vernon has the details.

Click to play video: 'Prime Minister Trudeau backtracks on Alberta oilsands comment'
Prime Minister Trudeau backtracks on Alberta oilsands comment

The unemployment rate in Alberta, where the economy largely centres on the oil and gas sector, was at 8.5 per cent in December, higher than the national rate of 6.9 per cent. Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs over the last few years.

READ MORE: Will Keystone XL be built now that Donald Trump has approved the project?

Trudeau noted that he recently approved two major oil export pipelines: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line to the Vancouver area and Enbridge’s expanded Line 3 pipeline to the U.S. Midwest.

The Liberal government is also hopeful the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline, killed by former U.S. president Barack Obama in 2015, will soon be revived under the newly installed Trump administration. Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to push Keystone forward, although it was short of details.

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Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart said Trudeau should admit the oilsands do need to be phased out – sooner rather than later

Watch below: 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.”

Click to play video: 'Raw: Justin Trudeau on Alberta oilsands'
Raw: Justin Trudeau on Alberta oilsands

“I understand that the prime minister is under enormous pressure to pretend that the oil boom will last forever, but a leader should be honest about what it will take to avoid dangerous levels of global warming,” he said.

“That means starting to phase out fossil fuels now and getting it done by the time my kids are my age. If we don’t manage that change, the world market will force it on us and the oil-price drop gave us a preview of what that looks like.”

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The prime minister met with his cabinet in Calgary Tuesday and has a town-hall meeting planned in the city, with doors set to open at 6:30 p.m. MT.

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