The Harper government’s resistance to environmental regulation has given Canada a “black eye” and is hurting the economy and jeopardizing major energy projects, says Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay.
During an editorial board meeting at The Huffington Post Canada on Wednesday, Hall Findlay said the Keystone pipeline, the Northern Gateway pipeline and other projects are in jeopardy at least in part because of the federal government’s aggressive resistance to international co-operation on environmental issues.
“If nothing else, from a marketing perspective, doing things badly [on the environment] is harming our economy and our economic prospects,” said Hall Findlay, who is taking her second stab at the Liberal leadership.
Hall Findlay said in her experience with trade issues, Canada’s environmental record was “first on the list” of objections brought up by other countries when it came to doing business with Canada.
She suggested that the current negotiations for a Canada-EU free trade agreement are probably suffering because of Canada’s lack of co-operation in recent years on environmental initiatives.
And she said the Keystone XL pipeline -- which has become a political flashpoint for U.S. environmentalists -- is in jeopardy because of Canada’s anti-environmental image.
“The irony of Keystone, of course, is that the current government has bungled this so badly,” Hall Findlay said.
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Hall Findlay said Canada should be building a global image as a responsible, environmentally concerned developer of energy and natural resources.
“Instead of having a black mark that’s reinforced by the government, why don’t we turn that around and say Canada should become a world leader in pipeline monitoring technology; Canada should become a leader in spill containment,” she said.
Hall Findlay has expressed support for Keystone and other controversial energy projects, as well as arguing for oil and gas access to Asian markets by way of the West Coast.
But she said she suspects the controversial Northern Gateway project, which would bring natural gas from Western Canada to a port on the Pacific Ocean, is likely dead in the water.
Northern Gateway has become “problematic” because of how it was presented to the public and “how the federal government has spoken of it, trying to ram it through,” Hall Findlay said.
She added that even if the project passes environmental review, “I don’t think Northern Gateway will have the social license that we need in Canada to proceed with projects like that.”
Hall Findlay is considered one of the front-runners for the Liberal leadership, a departure from her 2006 campaign, when she was seen as an also-ran.
The latest fundraising numbers show she has raised the second-largest amount of any Liberal leadership contender, though she was out-raised by Justin Trudeau by a ratio of more than four to one.