Former U.S. vice president Al Gore has torn a strip off the "ethical oil" campaign favoured by some backers of Canada's oil sands, telling an audience that it simply doesn't exist.
“There’s no such thing as ethical oil,” he said at Toronto’s Ryerson University on Tuesday. "There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil."
He made the remarks during a public interview with Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse, who asked Gore about the controversial term that brands oil from nations like Canada, a democracy that works to protect human rights, as the ethical alternative to “conflict oil” from oppressive countries.
Gore, who recently compared oilsands exploitation to a junkie getting their fix, also expressed his hope that U.S. President Barack Obama would nix the Keystone XL Pipeline. The project would deliver crude from Alberta’s oilsands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
A recent Nanos poll indicated 68 per cent of Canadians support U.S. approval of the Keystone project, compared to 74 per cent of Americans, and that while environmental concerns remain important, "energy security, particularly in the U.S., is driving views on energy issues." Sixty-three per cent of Americans said energy independence is a more important issue than decreasing greenhouse gases, compared with 55 per cent of Canadians.
Gore's most recent comments about Alberta's oilsands and the pipeline come on the heels of another Globe and Mail article in which he suggested Canada suffers from a “resource curse."
“The resource curse has multiple dimensions and [that includes] damage to some extremely beautiful landscapes, not to mention the core issue of adding to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer,” he said.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver dismissed his comments as “over-the-top.”
Environment Minister Peter Kent also spoke out over Gore's remarks.
"I would suggest that he better inform himself about the Canadian record," he said, as quoted at the Toronto Sun. "We have engaged in legislation to provide for better regulation, better enforcement of responsible resource development in the oilsands and elsewhere."