As the Harper government continues with its push to build support for the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline projects in Canada's West, officials on Wall Street are taking notice and raising concerns about Canada's ability to get resources to market, says Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
"These are opportunities that have a certain lifespan and it's wrong to assume that because the resources are in the ground that it doesn't matter then when you get them out," Oliver told reporters gathered at a news conference in New York on Tuesday.
Oliver was in New York while he delivered remarks at the Global Energy Summit hosted by Hogan Lovells, an international law firm.
The natural resources minister told reporters he met with bankers, portfolio managers and other finance officials on Monday who raised the general issue of "timeliness" in a competitive environment.
"Some of the questions really related to how quickly is this stuff going to get done … because the U.S. is trying to move ahead," Oliver said.
The minister said the U.S. isn't just worried about Canada's ability to get oil to market, but liquefied natural gas too.
"We have to move," Oliver said.
Opposition from First Nations
First Nations leaders in B.C. say a last-minute flurry of requests to meet with ministers in various departments does not make up for their lack of consultation until now.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told CBC News, "I have a sinking feeling that perhaps they're covering their backsides in terms of a consultation record."
On Tuesday, Oliver told reporters the meetings are part of the federal government's effort "to make sure that aboriginal communities are engaged early in the process and that they derive benefits from these projects."
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is expected to be in B.C. this week. Other members of Harper's cabinet such as Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq are also expected to travel to B.C. and make their pitch too.
Raitt told CBC Radio's The House on Saturday that part of the reason why federal ministers and their senior officials are going out to the West "is to engage and to speak with those groups that are very interested in what we're doing on the world-class tanker system."
Raitt said she was looking forward to meeting with First Nations leaders while she was there and addressing their concerns.
Oliver said today's trip in New York builds on his meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in D.C. last Monday, where he received an "enthusiastic" response to Harper's recent proposal that Canada and the United States work together on targets to reduce emissions from oil and gas production.
Harper sent the letter with the proposal to U.S. President Barack Obama in late August.