Canada’s oilpatch is taking Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new, more aloof approach to the Northern Gateway pipeline project in stride.
“We believe the prime minister is trying to strike the right balance between support for diversified market access for Canadian oil, and ensuring the Northern Gateway regulatory process is allowed to proceed and be viewed as legitimate,” Tim Shipton, president of Alberta Enterprise Group, an Edmonton-based business advocacy organization, said.
His comments come after Harper acknowledged the opposition to the pipeline proposal and distanced himself from a review of the project that would help meet his “national priority” of diversifying markets for Canadian oil.
“I think that’s the only way that government can handle controversial projects of this manner, is to ensure that things are evaluated on an independent basis, scientifically, and not simply on political criteria,” Harper said on Tuesday in Vancouver.
That doesn’t worry Shipton’s group, which supports oilsands development.
“The prime minister may be trying to find a middle ground where Alberta and BC can ultimately agree to the principles on how Northern Gateway will proceed,” he said in an e-mail to QMI Agency.
Harper’s comments about the proposed pipeline were his first since B.C. Premier Christy Clark listed her five demands – including a “fair share” of revenue – in exchange for her government’s support for the project.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has already rejected the revenue demand.
Last week, the federal government placed a Dec. 31, 2013, drop-dead date for the regulatory review on the Northern Gateway project.