Kenney calls Biden’s Keystone XL cancellation ‘gut punch’ to Albertans

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described the cancellation of Keystone XL’s permit as a ‘gut punch’ and ‘insult’ to Albertans Wednesday.

Biden’s Day 1 actions as the new American president included moving to revoke a presidential permit for the US$8 -billion pipeline in his first few hours on the job.

“We are deeply disturbed that one of President Biden’s first actions in office has been to rescind the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline border crossing,” Kenney said. “This is a gut punch for the Canadian and Alberta economies. Sadly, it is an insult directed at the United States’ most important ally and trading partner on day one of a new administration.”

“Today, as I speak over 2,000 women and men have lost their jobs (and) are heading home from good paying union jobs as a result of this decision,” he add..ed.

“Let’s be clear about what happened today,” Kenney continued. “The leader of our closest ally retroactively vetoed approval for a pipeline that already exists, and which is co-owned by a Canadian government, directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada-US relationship… trade relationship, which is our energy industry and exports.”

“In my books,” he said, “that’s not how you treat a friend and an ally.”

Political scientist Greg Anderson, at the University of Alberta says no matter what pitch the province or Ottawa makes to Joe Biden, its unlikely he will change course.

“It’s hard to imagine Biden at some point in the near term even the medium term, say ‘oops my bad.’”

Anderson feels that this should be the wake-up call needed for Alberta that it’s time to diversify the economy.

“Keystone XL was never going to solve all of Alberta’s problems, it’s really a drop in the bucket of all of Alberta’s problems,” said Anderson.

“This province should not be a one trick pony,” he added. “It’s got plenty of resources and entrepreneurialism.”

The 2,735-kilometre (1,700-mile ) pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Keystone XL

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to Washington, told CTV that Ottawa was “very disappointed.” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, speaking minutes earlier, took a more muted tone, telling CTV that Canada  respected and understood the decision.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said it was a ‘difficult day for Alberta’s energy sector.’

“It’s no doubt that the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline will harm thousands of Alberta workers and their families,” she said.

“For all Albertans; however, this decision is made far worse by the Premier’s reckless gamble of at least $1.5 billion on a project that most people understood was at great risk and over which he had no authority.”

On Monday, Kenney urged Biden to reconsider his reported decision, repeatedly reminding him that Canada is the United States’ top trade partner as well as the safest option to transport energy responsibly.

Calgary’s Chamber of Commerce has accepted defeat in the pipeline battle and wants to see politicians branch out into agriculture and technology sectors.

“It’s time to move on,” said interim CEO Murray Sigler.

“There’s lots of other shared priorities we urge both provincially and nationally to get on with.”

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner, in a statement, was critical of the Liberals’ handling of the situation.

“Today’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is bad for jobs, bad for the economy, and bad for the environment,” Rempel Garner said. “It is a project that any leader of Canada should be proud to support, particularly on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose livelihood depends on the energy sector. Instead, when reports came that this move was imminent, the media reported that Trudeau ‘shrugged off’ this news.”

Kenney believes the federal government’s response to the veto was soft.

He wants to see economic sanctions on trade implemented immediately.

Justin Trudeau is the first world leader on President Biden’s list and the pair will speak on Friday.

Kenney says no matter what happens in response to Biden’s decision, Alberta wants to continue the beneficial relationship with the U.S.

“We remain friends of the United States. We must find a way forward. And I would hope that we could do so.”

With files from CTV News

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