WASHINGTON – A former Harper government appointee has used a keynote speech at a Washington, D.C., event to trample the Canadian government’s message on oil pipelines.
Mark Jaccard was one of the first people nominated by the Conservatives to the environmental file, when he was named in 2006 to the now-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
The environmental economist now has delivered a lengthy rebuke of Canada’s climate-change performance at an event near the White House, as the Obama administration grapples with whether to approve the Alberta-U.S. pipeline.
He calls Canada a “rogue state” on the environment and urges the U.S. to block Keystone.
Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at Simon Fraser University, says he doesn’t want the oilsands shut down — he just doesn’t want them to grow.
Jaccard’s speech comes as the Canadian government spends millions to promote Canada’s oil industry in a publicity campaign that includes ads in the D.C. subway system.
Jaccard was the headline speaker at a summit tied to a well-connected Democratic donor, the so-called “green billionaire” Tom Steyer, and attended by a number of U.S. media outlets.
The event and the choice of location are designed to arm-twist the Obama administration as it faces its Keystone dilemma.
It is being held in Georgetown, where President Barack Obama delivered a speech in June saying Keystone would not be approved if it significantly increases greenhouse-gas emissions.
The title of the event is, “Can Keystone Pass The President’s Climate Test?”
One speaker after another has suggested that, no, Keystone cannot be approved without a significant increase in carbon pollution as a result.
The other side of the Keystone debate is not represented at the event. The head of TransCanada Corp. and the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. were invited just a few days before the long-planned gathering, and both declined the invitation.
Canadian envoy Gary Doer said he wanted to be there to make the case for the project, but already had plans to be in Canada. TransCanada boss Russ Girling, on the other hand, let it be known that he had no desire to attend an event he derided as “grandstanding” by Steyer as he seeks to build a political profile.