Hopeful Canadian PM still thinks Obama might approve Keystone XL for some reason

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has a tough election coming up in the middle of October and he’s got some serious competition on his hands from the liberal forces in his country. One item currently under debate in the Great White North is the same as a long running argument taking place in the lower 48… how do we get the Keystone XL pipeline built? Canada has been waiting along with us for an answer and TransCanada has an ungodly amount of money tied up in the project. This week Harper took an unexpectedly optimistic tone and told his opponents that he’s not given up hope on Barack Obama seeing the light and giving a thumbs up to the deal. (Reuters)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday he would keep aggressively pushing the merits of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline, which U.S. President Barack Obama appears likely to veto soon.

Harper has pressed Washington to approve the pipeline, variously describing the project as a “no brainer”, saying he would not “take no for an answer” and expressing the conviction the project will eventually get the green light.

“We will continue to make the case and make the case aggressively,” he told a televised election debate. Harper’s Conservatives face a tough fight on Oct. 19 against the Liberals and New Democrats, both center-left parties.

Harper is certainly far more optimistic than most of us down here. Obama has twisted his own words, doubled back and delayed for years on the pipeline in the hopes of having it both ways. But now all of the elections he needs to worry about are over and it’s pretty much inconceivable that he would approve the deal no matter how many jobs it would create. It also matters not that every environmental study conducted by his own agencies has shown that it will be safe to move forward. It’s nothing more than a political football and his green base wants the deal scuttled. Hillary has gotten on the same page and unofficially shot it down before the President even had the chance to do so.

So what about Harper? Assuming he survives the election he’s still got to find something to do with all that oil. Approval has been granted for the massively challenging Northern Gateway pipeline which will ship their product over the Rockies and to new harbors on their western coast where Chinese tankers await. And even if the pipeline isn’t built they can still get the oil to the Chinese by rail, albeit at a somewhat higher cost. The problem for Harper is that the folks who want the jobs and the money are losing patience. On the other side he has his own green warriors to deal with just like we do. It’s a rock and a hard place scenario.

Barack Obama could throw him a bone by signing off on Keystone XL before the Canadian elections, but as I mentioned above, he’s far more likely to leave Harper for the wolves.

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