Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a crowd in Calgary that, though he misspoke when he talked about “phasing out” the oilsands earlier this month, his message was not different than that of his predecessor, Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
“I have spoken many, many times about our need to move off of our dependency on fossil fuels, and like other prime ministers, even including the one immediately before me, recognized that that’s the trend like that our planet and our country needs to be on,” he said Tuesday night.
Trudeau was being raked over the coals for a statement he’d made at an earlier stop on his cross-Canada tour.
WATCH: Justin Trudeau’s oilsands comments trigger backlash in Alberta
Standing before an audience in Peterborough, Ont., the prime minister was answering a question about achieving environmental protection goals while approving pipeline projects at the same time.
“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,” he said.
The statement landed like a bomb in Alberta, where provincial leaders pounced, saying the prime minister was willing to leave thousands of Albertans jobless.
This week, Trudeau defended the statement, but conceded he could have used different words to express himself.
“I misspoke. I said something the way I shouldn’t have said it,” he said Tuesday night.
During his nearly five-minute response in Calgary, Trudeau explained he wasn’t looking to shut down the oilsands, but rather move the country away from a dependence on fossil fuels for energy sources.
WATCH: Trudeau says he ‘misspoke’ after commenting Canada should phase out oilsands
“But the petro chemicals involved, and the potentiality of these fossil fuel resources are always going to be valuable,” he said.
Harper, meanwhile, was a fierce defender of Canadian energy and proponent of pipelines. But he also committed to reducing greenhouse gasses – even “decarbonisation – and said doing so would require transforming Canada’s energy sector.
During a G7 leaders’ summit in 2015, Harper agreed to “transforming” energy sectors with deep cuts to emissions by 2050 and to achieving a no-carbon economy by 2100.
“Nobody’s going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights. We simply got to find a way to create lower-carbon emitting sources of energy,” Harper said when asked what the agreement means for Canada’s energy sector.
— With a file from The Canadian Press