12/21/2016 03:18 EST | Updated 12/21/2016 03:18 EST

Trudeau: Canada Will Capitalize If Trump Backsteps On Climate Change

CALGARY— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says if the United States takes a step back on fighting climate change under Donald Trump, Canada will capitalize.

At a Calgary speech to business owners, Trudeau was asked whether he was committed to his climate plan, which includes a national price on carbon, even if it makes Canada less competitive with the U.S. under the incoming president, who has sent mixed messages on the climate issue.

"Let's see what the president actually does once he becomes president and what he says and let's not overreact ahead of time. But the challenge of climate change isn't a debate or linked to a political ideology. It's a fact," Trudeau responded Wednesday.

"We know that this is the way the world is going and if the United States wants to take a step back from it, quite frankly, I think we should look at that as an extraordinary opportunity for Canada and for Canadians."

justin trudeau

Justin Trudeau speaks to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary on Wednesday. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

He said that opportunity exists with investors who are looking 10 to 20 years down the road.

"We know that maybe there is a potential for short-term benefit by not engaging in the environment as strongly, but we also know that in the medium-term and the long-term, jobs of the future, the opportunities for economic growth, the well-being of our citizens and future generations is going to be linked to figuring out better and smarter ways to do things."

Trump has sent mixed signals on whether he will try to slow Earth's warming temperatures and rising sea levels.

Since he was elected, Trump has met with prominent climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. He's suggested his daughter Ivanka, a close adviser, has a particular interest in the issue and could be his envoy.

But he has also tapped oil industry champions for his cabinet, men who say they're determined to reverse President Barack Obama's efforts to rein in emissions.

"Let's see what the president actually does once he becomes president and what he says and let's not overreact ahead of time."

Trudeau has been largely circumspect in commenting on Trump's pending presidency, but in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week, the prime minister emphasized that he would not hesitate to protect Canadian interest and values if they clash with Trump's agenda.

He acknowledged that Trump's plan to deport large numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants could have an effect on Canada.

"We are in a world that is getting smaller and smaller in many aspects,'' he told The Canadian Press.

In Calgary, Trudeau also touted his government's recent approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) Line 3 improvements in the region.

PM 'extremely confident' in new projects

He said he is "extremely confident" that those projects will be built despite some stiff opposition, particularly in British Columbia.

"Yes, there are people out there who are going to be opposed to pipelines no matter what, but there are an awful lot of other people who are onside with the approach that we are taking," he said.

"The fact is, people get it and I will encourage everyone to look at this as something we can do together."

The visit to Alberta follows a stop in Vancouver on Tuesday where Trudeau announced two emergency towing vessels will operate on the West Coast and help keep large disabled commercial ships away from the shoreline.

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