The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Time has come to look past Obama to reboot Canada-U.S. trade: Prentice

  • Print
Former Conservative federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice is shown during an interview in Ottawa on Monday, November 19, 2012. It's high time Canada started looking beyond the Obama era if it wants to push economic integration with the United States to a new level, says former Prentice.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Enlarge Image

Former Conservative federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice is shown during an interview in Ottawa on Monday, November 19, 2012. It's high time Canada started looking beyond the Obama era if it wants to push economic integration with the United States to a new level, says former Prentice.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

OTTAWA - It's high time Canada started looking beyond the Obama era if it wants to push economic integration with the United States to a new level, says former Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice.

That includes pushing for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been stalled by the logjam of U.S. domestic politics — something that's unlikely to change in the next three years, Prentice said Wednesday.

New gas discoveries in both countries have transformed North America's economic landscape, said Prentice, who urged the federal government to set its sights on 2017 when Barack Obama's successor arrives in the White House.

Once that time comes, Canada will have an 18-month window to capture the new American president's attention on bilateral issues.

"We must set our priorities, tailor our agenda and make our preparations with that small window of opportunity in mind. The next one will arrive in 2017," Prentice, now a senior bank executive, said in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada.

The former environment and industry minister left politics more than three years ago, but has at times since then been touted as a possible successor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Prentice appeared to take some amusement in that speculation by breaking from his prepared speech and telling his audience of business people and politicians that he had come to Ottawa to make a special announcement.

Many attendees leaned forward, only to learn from a smiling Prentice that his newest grandchild had been born earlier that morning.

Harper and Obama meet face to face next week in Mexico, at a one-day summit of North America's three leaders.

In a pre-speech interview, Prentice suggested there was little hope of Harper making any progress on Keystone when they meet next week.

"The prime minister has many years of experience now with the president. I think he spoke his mind very clearly on Keystone. I'm sure they'll have an interesting discussion but …" Prentice said, before pivoting to restating his long-held support of the pipeline project.

In his speech, Prentice said Keystone was the latest in a list of irritants in the Canada-U.S. relationship that has in the past included the softwood lumber dispute and the "thickening" of the border since 9-11, which is still slowing trade.

"At the same time, our comfortable and familiar relationship in the realm of energy has been radically transformed by North America's supply revolution."

Canada needs to be ready to negotiate an accord with the Americans on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta's oilsands when the next window of opportunity opens in 2017, he added.

More attention needs to be paid to climate change, Prentice said, because the issue is inextricably linked to growth in the energy sector.

"Focusing on environment policy is not exclusively a question of morality. Increasingly, for us, it is an economic imperative," he said. "Around the world, the wave of concern over climate change crested a few years ago … but those who are paying attention can see that the next wave is building again.

"It will come, and Canada had better be ready for it the next time. If you are in the energy business today, you are in the environment business."

In the intervening three years, Prentice said Canada needs to push forward on pipeline construction, particularly to the British Columbia coast, so it can export the oil and gas in Western Canada to markets in Asia.

With the U.S. expected to be energy self-sufficient by the end of the decade, Prentice said Canada basically has no choice; it has to evolve beyond being reliant on a single customer for its energy products.

"The supply-demand balance for energy on this continent has already shifted such that overseas access is nothing short of an urgent priority for the Canadian economy," he said.

"Without it, we are heading towards a marketplace reality in which there will be no market on the continent for increased production from the Canadian oilsands post-2020."

The creation of a viable liquefied natural gas plant on the B.C. coast is also vital, he said.

"This is a viciously competitive global business. It is an industry where the Americans have emerged as our primary competitor."

Prentice also called for greater engagement by the government with aboriginal groups to remove impediments to pipeline construction.

He called it a "marvellous step forward" that Harper was able to announce a new plan for native education last week with Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kevin Cheveldayoff announces Maurice contract extension

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google