Canada has patiently waited for Americans to help themselves improve our energy policy by installing a pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to our refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, but this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaled that their patience has limits. Speaking to CTV, Harper reminded the US that they have a very thirsty China as a potential customer, too:
Canada could sell its oil to China and other overseas markets with or without approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the United States, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In a year-end television interview, Harper indicated he had doubts the $7-billion pipeline would receive political approval from U.S. President Barack Obama, and that Canada should be looking outside the United States for markets.
“I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent, selling our energy products off to Asia. I think we have to do that,” Harper said in the Monday interview with CTV National News.
Harper’s comments were released a day after the White House sent signals it might kill TransCanada’s oil sands pipeline if it is forced to make a decision on the project in 60 days, saying there wasn’t sufficient time to complete a new environmental review.
Clearly, Harper isn’t enamored with Barack Obama’s stalling on the Keystone XL pipeline. Kelly McParland got the same impression, and writes at the National Post that Harper kept it friendly but made no mistake about playing political and economic hardball if Obama continues to stall:
Stephen Harper sent a none-too-subtle shot across the bow of our American friends and allies Monday when he indicated he’s dead keen on selling Canadian oil to buyers in Asia. He didn’t put it in so many words, but he was telling Washington this: “You don’t want our oil, no problem. We’ve got lots of markets across the Pacific where we don’t have to beg to get a sale.”
It was a timely message and a good one for the Prime Minister to send. There is no need to be rude to the U.S., which is and always will be Canada’s best market. But there’s also no need to sit around and wait for the political circus in Washington to pause long enough to recognize the attractiveness of the opportunity Canada is offering. Given the state of absurdity that has the U.S. capital in its grip, there’s no telling how long that could take.
Of course, the compromise in the Senate over the payroll tax “holiday” would have solved the Keystone XL issue, or at least forced Obama to bite the bullet and make a decision on it. Unfortunately, the House GOP has thrown that solution into doubt with its rebuke of their GOP colleagues in the Senate this week. McParland aces the description of the standoff:
The ins and outs are too complex to get into, but it comes down to this: President Barack Obama wants to extend a tax break he introduced to offset the effects of the recession. Despite supporting tax cuts, Republicans don’t want him to get credit for this one. So they’re opposing the extension, even though they support it. In search of a compromise, the Senate voted on the weekend to extend the break for just two months, meaning everyone could go home for Christmas and renew the battle later. But Republicans in the House couldn’t bring themselves to accept the deal approved by Republicans in the Senate, insisting the extension should be for a full year, not just two months. But rather than vote down the deal — which would let Obama blame Republicans for refusing a tax cut, they simply refused to vote at all. The just cancelled a vote scheduled for Monday, and did nothing at all. Nice work, guys. Another vote was held Tuesday, which led to a House demand for negotiations, but the Senate has already left town.
Meanwhile, China is growing thirstier, and Canada grows impatient to sell its bountiful oil to someone who really wants it. Maybe everyone should concentrate on the real economic benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline instead of the illusory differences between a 2- and 12-month extension of a tax holiday that produced no economic stimulus at all over the past year.