Within hours of being sworn in on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the Keystone XL permit.
The move drew quick criticism from the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose energy sectors were depending on the US$8 billion project.
Last spring, the Alberta government invested about US$1.1 billion (C$1.5 billion) in the project. Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dated Jan. 21 and obtained by Global News, Kenney expressed his “profound disappointment” over the project’s cancellation and what he called the lack of federal response to “our repeated requests for your personal intervention with the incoming administration.”
Kenney said “at the very least,” he is calling upon the government of Canada to press the U.S. Administration to compensate TC Energy and the Alberta government for billions of dollars of costs incurred in the construction to date.
“These costs were incurred on the assumption that the United States has a predictable regulatory framework, and based on the Presidential permit authorizing the Keystone XL border crossing which was installed in the summer of 2019,” Kenney wrote.
“For the United States to retroactively cancel the permit, on the basis of which investment decisions were made, is a clear violation of the investor-protection provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which were extended as a result of your government’s successful negotiation of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement.”
Kenney also reiterated that if that fails, Trudeau must take retaliatory measures such as trade sanctions.
Kenney said the project needs to be at the top of Canada’s priority list.
“By retroactively revoking the Presidential permit for this project without taking the time to discuss it with their longest standing all, the United States is setting a deeply disturbing precedent for any future projects and collaboration between our two nations,” Kenney wrote.
“If the U.S. is unwilling to listen, then we must demonstrate that Canada will stand up for Canadian workers and the Canadian economy.”
Kenney said a path to a reconsideration of Keystone XL must be found.
During the First Ministers call Thursday night, Trudeau faced anger from some of Canada’s premiers over the cancellation of the pipeline.
Trudeau touched on the call briefly during a media availability Friday morning.
He said during the conversation, he expressed his disappointment with the United States’ decision on Keystone.
“To workers, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan who’ve been hit really hard, we will continue to have your back,” Trudeau said Friday.
The prime minister noted that Canada needs to work shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. on a number of fronts, including “rebuilding economies that benefit everyone.”
“The fact that we have so much alignment — not just me and President Biden, but Canadians and President Biden — on values of creating jobs and prosperity for everyone, opportunities for everyone, investing in the fight against climate change as a way of growing the economy, looking to be coordinated and aggressive in stepping up in our measures against COVID-19 — these are things we’re going to be able to dig into significantly,” Trudeau said.
“It’s not always going to be perfect alignment with the United States — that’s the case with any given president — but in a situation where we are much more aligned on values, on focus, on work that needs to be done to give opportunities for everyone while we build a better future, I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden.”
NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said while the cancellation is a “devastating blow” to the province, it did not come as a surprise.
Ganley said the Opposition has previously called on the UCP government to release the details of the deal, but was told it would have to make a formal request to the Public Accounts Committee. Ganley said the party will do just that on Tuesday, formally requesting that Cabinet waive privilege and release the full risk analysis, and all financial documents related to the deal.
“The UCP members of that committee will have to make a decision,” Ganley said from Calgary Friday afternoon. “Will they stand up for the public interest and make these documents public? Or will they vote to keep the details of this deal a secret from the public and prevent legislative oversight?
“It’s time for Premier Kenney and his UCP government to finally come clean with Albertans. Release the deal.”
Ganley stressed she doesn’t want to see Canada end up in a trade war with the United States.
“I fear the repercussions of a trade war. The consequences of that would be entirely unpredictable for Canadian jobs, Canadian industries, Canadian workers and Canadian families.”
Friday’s call will be the new U.S. president’s first with a foreign leader after being sworn into office Wednesday.
With files from Sean Boynton and David Akin, Global News and The Canadian Press.