Canada Looking to China as U.S. Says We're Just Not That Into You

January 12, 2012

 

I must have been mad
I never knew what I had
Until I threw it all away

Canada's newfound coziness with China conjures a Bob Dylan classic about a squandered relationship. Dylan sang, "But I was cruel; I treated her like a fool; I threw it all away." Sounds a lot like the U.S. relationship with Canada. Our northern neighbors are our closest ally and largest trading partner. And for more than three years, they have been patiently waiting while we string them along, refusing to say yes or no to the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline. This is a project that will carry vast Canadian energy supplies to U.S. refineries - the very definition of a win-win that will strengthen our relationship. But with President Obama unable to commit, Canada may be ready to move on.

President Obama welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the White House last month, singing the praises of the neighborly bond: "Canada is our single largest trading partner, our top export market, and those exports -- from cars to food -- support some 1.7 million good-paying American jobs. Canada, in turn, is one of the top foreign investors in the United States, and that creates even more jobs and prosperity." The president obviously recognizes how vital this relationship is to our economic and national security, yet somehow he continues to ignore our northern neighbor when it comes to our energy security. And the president's negligence is causing Canada to rethink its future plans.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week announced plans for his second trip to China, which will happen next month in an effort to strengthen ties and secure a plan to sell Canadian oil to Asian markets. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Harper recently ratcheted up support for the idea of transporting some of Canada's growing oil production westward to the coast." The Canadian energy transport company Enbridge is already in the permitting process for a pipeline that will link the oil fields in Northern Alberta to a port in Kitimat, British Columbia.  This pipeline, known as the "Northern Gateway," will have a capacity to transport 525,000 barrels of oil per day and will allow oil to be sent directly from Alberta to Asian markets via tanker. Canadian regulators began their review of the project this week.

As Canada flirts with China, the president remains silent. Under the law, he now has just 40 days left to approve the pipeline or declare that the benefits of this project - not to mention solidifying our relationship with Canada - will not serve the national interest. With thousands of jobs on the line and our energy security at stake, it would be a tragedy for the president to look back and realize he just "threw it all away."

In the News

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Eager to Sell Alberta Oil, Harper Schedules Return Trip to China
Stephen Harper will make his second visit to China next month just as he makes selling oil to Asia a major strategic priority for Canadian trade.  Stephen Harper will make his second visit to China next month just as he makes selling oil to Asia a major strategic priority for Canadian trade. The Prime Minister's Office confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Harper will make the trip, aimed at sealing his new, warmer relation with Beijing, in the second week of February.

USA TODAY: Canada Seeks Alternative Route for Keystone XL Pipeline
While President Obama wants to delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is stepping up efforts to explore an alternative pipeline that would allow Canada to ship their tar sands oil to China.

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