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Trudeau ‘looking forward’ to working with Biden, ‘making sure’ he hears Keystone XL views

Click to play video 'Trudeau says Canada will ensure highest level of communication with Biden admin regarding Keystone XL' Trudeau says Canada will ensure highest level of communication with Biden admin regarding Keystone XL
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he’s been a longstanding supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline project that Biden intends to cancel in his first days in office – Jan 19, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is “making sure” the incoming U.S. administration hears our views in support of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

Read more: Canada continues to ‘make the case’ for Keystone XL to Biden’s team, feds say

His comments come just days after reports that Joe Biden is planning to cancel the planned pipeline expansion as one of his first moves after becoming U.S. president on Wednesday.

“Yesterday, I spoke with our ambassador, Kirsten Hillman. We’ve had a clear and consistent position supporting this project for years. Our government is making sure that Canada’s views are heard and considered by the incoming administration at the highest levels,” Trudeau said.

He added that he is “really looking forward” to working “closely” with Biden and his team to “create jobs and build back better together.”

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“This moment will mark a new chapter in the incredible relationship between our two countries,” Trudeau said.

Click to play video 'Scott Moe ‘disappointed’ with Joe Biden’s plan to cancel Keystone XL pipeline' Scott Moe ‘disappointed’ with Joe Biden’s plan to cancel Keystone XL pipeline
Scott Moe ‘disappointed’ with Joe Biden’s plan to cancel Keystone XL pipeline – Jan 19, 2021

Trudeau also said he discussed the pipeline issue with president-elect Biden in a conversation “a number of weeks ago.”

“We have highlighted, including in a direct conversation I had with president-elect Biden a number of weeks ago, that Canada has… become a global leader on the fight against climate change… and that Keystone XL continues to be an important project for us,” he said.

Transition documents, which The Canadian Press has seen, show that one of Biden’s to-do list priorities for inauguration day is a plan to rescind the Keystone XL construction permit granted in 2019 by predecessor Donald Trump. Canada has been a proponent of the project, and Alberta’s provincial government invested $1.5 billion into it last year.

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While Biden had previously signalled his plans to quash the project, the new development has left many Canadians reeling.

“That would be, in our view, an economic and strategic error that would set back Canada-U.S. relations with the United States’ most important trading partner and strategic ally: Canada,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said during a Monday press conference.

“All we ask at this point is that president-elect Biden show Canada respect to actually sit down and hear our case about how we can be partners in prosperity, partners in combating climate change, partners in energy security.”

Click to play video '‘Show Canada respect’: Kenney prepared to defend Keystone XL as critics slam project' ‘Show Canada respect’: Kenney prepared to defend Keystone XL as critics slam project
‘Show Canada respect’: Kenney prepared to defend Keystone XL as critics slam project – Jan 18, 2021

Kenney also warned that his province is prepared to “use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.”

When asked whether he would support Alberta’s potential legal action, Trudeau wouldn’t provide a firm answer.

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“I plan to speak with Premier Kenney later today to understand his perspective and his position fully,” Trudeau said on Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Kenney confirmed he had spoken with Trudeau about the future of the pipeline project, and had “urged the federal government to do everything to convey a clear message to President-elect Biden that rescinding the Keystone XL border crossing permit would damage the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship.”

According to the statement, Trudeau indicated the federal government is using “all available channels to communicate its concern” to the new administration.

Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, also implored the soon-to-be Biden administration to reconsider the plan.

“This infrastructure will safely transport Canadian crude oil that is produced under one of the strongest environmental and climate policy frameworks in the world, and will strengthen the vital Canada-U.S. energy relationship,” she said in a statement issued over the weekend.

“My team and I will continue to work with Alberta and the industry to make sure American lawmakers and stakeholders understand the facts about energy production in Canada, and that KXL will strengthen US energy security safely, sustainably and responsibly.”

Click to play video 'Former energy executive hopes Biden well negotiate with Canada over Keystone' Former energy executive hopes Biden well negotiate with Canada over Keystone
Former energy executive hopes Biden well negotiate with Canada over Keystone – Jan 18, 2021

However, some Canadian politicians expressed their support for the project’s planned cancellation. On Monday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh applauded the planned decision.

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“I support the decision, because I know that this is the direction that the future requires,” Singh told reporters.

“We’ve got to fight the climate crisis.”

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul also spoke in favour of the U.S. plan to shut the door on the project. She urged the government not to push back.

“We have a real chance, because this is a… president-elect who has made it very clear that the climate is going to be on the top of his agenda.”

“We should be working with the United States…rather than pushing them to reverse the commitment to end the Keystone pipeline.”

Biden has yet to formalize the decision to kill the project, leaving the government with one more day to change his mind. Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Monday that this is exactly what Canada is trying to do — in addition to hitting the ground running in working with the new president.

“Our government’s support for the Keystone XL project is long-standing and well-known. And we continue to make the case for it to our American colleagues,” O’Regan said in a statement sent to Global News.

“We’re looking forward to working with the incoming Biden administration and further strengthening the relationship with our closest ally.”

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-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson