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Feds laying groundwork to ensure Biden hears Canada’s priorities, ambassador says

Click to play video 'Amb. Kirsten Hillman to represent Canada at Biden inauguration in person, after COVID-19 test' Amb. Kirsten Hillman to represent Canada at Biden inauguration in person, after COVID-19 test
WATCH: Amb. Kirsten Hillman to represent Canada at Biden inauguration in person, after COVID-19 test – Jan 17, 2021

Canadian officials are already laying the groundwork to make sure the country’s priorities are heard once president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office this week, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. says.

“We have been spending months getting ready for that,” Kirsten Hillman told The West Block’s Abigail Bimman.

Read more: Canada’s support for Keystone XL ‘unwavering’ regardless of U.S. election: O’Regan

According to Hillman, Canadian officials have already spoken to “many members” of the Biden-Harris transition team, to “start to lay the groundwork for those first calls and that first outreach,” once the new administration takes over.

Biden and Harris are scheduled to be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Click to play video 'Trudeau says his government ‘very well-aligned’ with incoming Biden administration' Trudeau says his government ‘very well-aligned’ with incoming Biden administration
Trudeau says his government ‘very well-aligned’ with incoming Biden administration – Dec 16, 2020

One of the topics Canada will be discussing with the new Biden administration is the Keystone XL pipeline expansion — something the president-elect has said will not be allowed to continue during his tenure.

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Read more: Biden promised to block Keystone XL, but environmental groups say it’s far from over

“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning,” Biden said in an interview with CNBC last year. “It is tar sands that we don’t need — that in fact [are a] very, very high pollutant.”

Biden said claims that shutting down the Keystone pipeline would do undue damage to the oil industry are “just not rational,” adding that the arguments do not make any environmental or economic sense.

Click to play video 'How will the PM preserve the Keystone XL pipeline?' How will the PM preserve the Keystone XL pipeline?
How will the PM preserve the Keystone XL pipeline? – Dec 25, 2020

The move to kill the pipeline expansion aligns with Biden’s campaign promise to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy.

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The US$8-billion project approved by TC Energy would see the 1,930-kilometer pipeline transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to Nebraska.

President Trump approved the project in January 2020, however Biden is expected to rescind the presidential permits once he becomes president.

Read more: Trump administration gives approval for Keystone XL pipeline on U.S. land

Hillman said while Canada and the U.S. “may not fully align” on all priorities, she said representatives from each country are “going to have really good, honest and fact-based conversations.”

“On the economic side there’s no doubt that when we work together, we are stronger and our economies are more resilient,” she said. “There is no doubt that open and fair trade with Canada is good for Americans, and Democrats know that.”

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Trudeau welcomes end of 2020, predicts good news for Canada’s foreign relations – Dec 16, 2020

Hillman pointed to the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement (CUSMA), saying it passed with “overwhelming” support from the Democrats.

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“So there’s a lot of facts there for us to draw upon as as these plans start to take shape in order to protect Canadian interests,” she said.

In December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Keystone XL pipeline is an “integral part of Canada and America’s energy security.”

“It’s an argument I will continue to make, it’s a conversation I had in my very first chat with president-elect Biden, and we’ll continue to work together,” he said.

Trudeau said there’s an “awful lot of things” on which Canada and the U.S., and the incoming administration, are going to be “very well aligned,” including the environment and job creation.

Read more: Canada’s support for Keystone XL ‘unwavering’ regardless of U.S. election: O’Regan

Hillman said she will be Canada’s representation at the inauguration of Biden and Harris on Wednesday, adding that she will remain socially-distanced and that all attendees will be tested for COVID-19 before the ceremony.

–With a file from The Associated Press

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