Varcoe: A new U.S. president, a persistent pipeline problem for Canada

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On Tuesday, Enbridge countered that Line 5 is safe and complies with U.S. federal laws that govern the pipeline. The company said the state lacks the authority to revoke the easement and it has no intention of shutting the line down.

It has asked the U.S. District Court to dismiss Michigan’s action.

“It is critically important to Canadian energy security that we make sure that pipeline remains open,” said Canada West Foundation CEO Gary Mar.

While the Michigan dispute appears headed for the courts, the political side of the equation can’t be overlooked.

O’Regan said Canada’s ambassador to the United States has been talking to American officials on both pipelines — including to Michigan’s governor about Line 5.

“The arguments being made by us are very serious . . . We believe in it, we support it. It’s essential,” the minister said.

“We are pressing and making the case very, very strongly.”

As Mar correctly points out, Canada’s best strategy is to deal with energy and environmental issues as part of a larger discussion, rather than trying to fight one-on-one battles over contentious matters.

And while energy remains one of the most important parts of the trading relationship, “for Trudeau and Biden, it is less important than the climate file,” Christopher Sands, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre, said in an interview Tuesday.

However, he believes the economy and creating jobs will be essential for both countries in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In the end, these conflicts are part of a collection of many issues — and opportunities, such as working together on CCS — facing Canada and a new American administration.

“The U.S. right now is going through a massive amount of change, and how the dust settles, while judging by the president-elect’s intentions — and judging by the people that he’s surrounded himself with — I think we know which direction they’re headed in,” O’Regan added.

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

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