Inside Politics

New Democrats to hold Trudeau's feet to the fire over Keystone XL

The New Democrats will use tomorrow's opposition day debate to force Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his party to put his unabashed support for the Keystone XL pipeline on the parliamentary record.

Earlier this week, Toronto350.org reported that, due to "non-participation by at least two major parties" -- the Conservatives and the Liberals, to be precise -- they had been forced to scrub plans for a Toronto Centre all-candidates debate on climate change and science policy:

The goal of the host organizations in this case was to give voters in the upcoming Toronto Centre by-election the opportunity to hear the positions of the candidates in regard to the Earth's changing climate and the 'muzzling' of Federal scientists.
Unfortunately the campaign of Geoff Pollock, the Conservative candidate within the riding did not respond to our invitation.
The campaign of the Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland indicated their candidate was too busy to attend and they were additionally unwilling to engage in a 'narrow topic' debate.

"Given the scope and significance of the issues, we feel these are anything but 'narrow topics'. There is no broader topic to discuss than the future of our species and our planet." --- Toronto350.org

We hope in future to be able to host events with representation across the political spectrum.

New Democrat by-election hopeful Linda McQuaig turned to twitter to express her disappointment:

On her website, however, she took direct aim at Trudeau's recent statements in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, and suggested that Freeland's reluctance to take part in the planned discussion provided still more evidence that only "the NDP under Tom Mulcair ... can restore Canada's role as a respected and valued contributor to the global battle to prevent climate disaster."

Although the Liberal leader has unveiled little about his policies generally, he did give a big thumb's up last month to a central plank in Harper's plan to turn Canada into a petro-state.

While New Democrats were holding Harper's feet to the fire in Ottawa over the Senate scandal, the Liberal leader flew to Washington to endorse the Keystone pipeline - the controversial plan to transport unprocessed bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to Texas.

Construction of Keystone -- staunchly opposed by environmental groups on both sides of the border -- is also opposed by NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who points to serious environmental concerns as well as the negative impact of exporting high-level Canadian oil-processing jobs to the U.S.

Earlier today, the federal New Democrat caucus announced that it will devote tomorrow's opposition day debate to a motion that would declare Keystone XL to be "not in Canada's best interest," which will almost certainly compel the Liberals to join the government in voting it down -- a move that you can be sure McQuaig's campaign will trumpet to the voters of Toronto Centre.

The full text of the motion, which will stand in the name of British Columbia MP Peter Julian:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Keystone XL pipeline would intensify the export of unprocessed raw bitumen and would export more than 40,000 well-paying Canadian jobs, and is therefore not in Canada's best interest.

Tags: blackberry jungle, keystone XL, toronto centre

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