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NEW YORK — Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned that Canada would not take no for an answer from the United States on the Keystone XL pipeline and declared that political calculations were the only obstacle blocking the project.
In pointed remarks to an audience in New York, Mr. Harper asserted that the arguments in favour of the proposed pipeline were “overwhelming” and vowed to continue his campaign to win approval for the project until it succeeds.
“My view is that you don’t take no for an answer,” Mr. Harper said. “We haven’t had that [from the U.S.], but if we were to get that, that won’t be final. This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward.”
Mr. Harper didn’t spell out what Canada would do if Keystone were rebuffed, but did point to demand for Canadian energy around the world and to proposals for eastern and western pipelines. “If I were an American the last thing I would want to see is Canada selling its oil anywhere else.”
Despite Mr. Harper’s talk of persevering on Keystone, Canada appears to have no formal options for reviving the project if Barack Obama rejects it. Ottawa could attempt to persuade the U.S. President to change his mind, although such an effort is highly unlikely to succeed.
The Keystone pipeline has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in U.S. politics, attracting fervent supporters and equally passionate opponents. Its defenders say it will create much-needed jobs while adversaries contend it will accelerate climate change.
Mr. Harper dived into the centre of the debate in his comments Thursday to a group of about 150 business people at a hotel in midtown Manhattan.
The project “is so clearly in everybody’s interest,” he said. The long delay in getting it approved is “just politics,” he added. “Over time, bad politics make bad policy and I believe that in strong, advanced countries and economies like ours bad policies ultimately get reversed.”
Mr. Obama, he continued, “has always assured me that he’ll make a decision that’s in what he believes is the best interest of the United States based on the facts.”
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