CANADIAN Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told a town hall meeting in Ontario that oilsands must be phased out as the country moves to a lower-carbon economy.
Trudeau was quizzed on a variety of topics, and in a video from the event posted on social media, he was asked about government approval for the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which will take oil from the heart of the oilsands region to an export terminal on Canada’s Pacific coast. He was also asked if he could clarify the government’s position on climate change and reducing emissions. Trudeau said that the economy is based on getting resources to market, but that in the 21st century, it must be done sustainably and responsibly.
“You can't make a choice between what's good for the environment and what's good for the economy. We can't shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels. That is going to take time, and in the meantime, we have to manage that transition,” said Trudeau.
That idea led to immediate uproar on social media and was picked up by opposition leader Brian Jean who called the prime minister’s comments “an attack on Alberta’s oilsands”, warning that “he’ll have to go through me and four million Albertans first”. He said in a statement that Trudeau would “never take on any other regionally-specific economic sector in Canada”.
The premier of Alberta province, Rachel Notley, where much of the oilsands industry is based, posted her own video response on Twitter. She said that oil and gas would be powering the world for generations to come and that she is working with industry to ensure that Alberta is a global, sustainable producer of oil and gas.
“The bottom line – Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the people who work in it are the best in the world and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” she said.
Trudeau’s press secretary Cameron Ahmad told the Huffington Post that the statement was just a reiteration of Trudeau’s and previous prime ministers’ statements that Canada needs to move away from fossil fuels, whilst still growing the economy, and is not new.
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