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Amid all the hoopla of the Democratic party convention this week and the promises of shared prosperity, there was little for Canada to take away.
In the party’s national platform, released to coincide with the event in Charlotte, N.C., Canada barely rates a mention and there is nothing on the most important unresolved issue between the two countries and a big pillar of Canada’s own future prosperity — the stalled Keystone XL pipeline.
It’s a stark contrast to the Republican plan, which has made North American energy independence with the help of a stronger partnership with Canada and Mexico a key objective, and promises approval of the controversial US$7.6-billion pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the U.S. Gulf “on Day One” of a Mitt Romney administration.
Heads up: if re-elected in the Nov. 6 vote, Barack Obama will keep Canada guessing about the fate of the controversial project, despite approving the southern leg earlier this year, continuing efforts by proponent TransCanada Corp. to improve the more controversial northern leg, and by Ottawa to lobby for its approval.
The Calgary-based company applied for a new permit in May and proposed a new route this week to avoid environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska, after the State Department twice rejected the project.
Jason Grumet, who is close to the Obama administration and is the president of the Bipartisan Policy Centre in Washington, said a decision on the pipeline is unlikely until the review process now under way is completed.
But he suggested Canada shouldn’t read too much into Keystone XL’s absence from the platform, a political document that tends to be light on foreign policy.
“The President’s assertion that they will make a decision about Keystone after they go through this new process next year is pretty much what they plan to do. That is not the most exciting policy statement. That is why it’s not a focus of the platform,” he said.
“It’s not clear to me that they know” whether they will approve it or not, he said.
Rising gasoline prices, which the Republicans have touted as a reason to support Keystone XL, aren’t likely to have an impact on Democratic views because there’s increasing acceptance that there is little politicians can do, he said.
“$4 [a gallon] gasoline no longer feels like the end of the world,” he said. “Four years ago when we were looking at $4 gasoline it was a number that had never been reached before … but the intensity of concern has lessened.”
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/06/democrats-shows-no-love-for-canadian-oil/