10/10/2013 12:03 EDT

Tom Steyer: Was There ‘Collusion' Between Harper, GOP On Keystone?

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 13: Tom Steyer introduces a panel during the National Clean Energy Summit 6.0 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on August 13, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit 6.0)

An outspoken billionaire critic of the Keystone XL pipeline wants to know whether there was “collusion” between the Harper government and Republicans to make approval of the Keystone XL pipeline a key factor in the U.S. government shutdown.

In the debt ceiling debate, the Republicans asked for very, very, very few things but one of them was approval of the Keystone pipeline,” Tom Steyer, founder of hedge fund Farallon and a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser, told BNN.

“That was right after Prime Minister Harper said he would not take no for an answer with regards to Keystone.”

Steyer made news last week with a letter to Harper noting that Harper's speech supporting Keystone XL, combined with a new TransCanada ad campaign trumpeting Keystone, “raises the question of whether your office is working hand-in-hand with TransCanada to try to exploit the current situation in Washington, D.C., at the expense of the American people.”

In an interview with CTV News, Steyer asked, “Was there some collusion here? Did the Canadian government take advantage of the crisis in the United States to get something that they desperately want, which is approval of the Keystone XL pipeline?

Steyer said Harper had not yet responded to his letter, but Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., earlier this week called Steyer’s speculations “bogus.”

"We respect the process in the White House with the president's authority on presidential permits, we respect the technical work that is done at the State Department, which has really pointed to the advantages of moving ahead with this pipeline," Doer said, as quoted at CTV News.

Steyer left the hedge fund he founded, Farallon Capital Management, to devote himself full-time to environmental causes, and is now president of NextGen Climate Action.

He has been a leading fundraiser for U.S. President Barack Obama, and has been increasingly vocal in his criticisms of the Keystone XL pipeline. He recently challenged TransCanada CEO Russ Girling to a public debate on the project, an invitation Girling rejected.

The Obama administration appears to have delayed any decision on the pipeline until 2014.

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