Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest is hailing any progress on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline as good for both market access and Canada’s international reputation; but he worries any deal with U.S. President Donald Trump on increased profit could set a worrying precedent. In an interview on BNN Tuesday morning, Charest said progress on a file that dominated former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s international agenda would help assuage foreign fears Canada could not get its infrastructure house in order.
“Keystone has been the story of the relationship between Canada and the United States in the last five years, and it has not been a good story,” Charest said amid reports Trump would soon sign an executive order to advance the pipeline project. “The perception it left to the rest of the world is that Canada was a country that was stuck in terms of doing its major infrastructure projects.”
Charest said further clarity is needed on U.S. President Trump’s statement he would drive for a “better deal” on the 1,897-km pipeline, which is currently mired in a US$15 billion NAFTA claim due to its prior rejection by the Oval Office during Barack Obama’s presidency.
“They wanted more benefits for the United States: what are those benefits? What kind of a precedent is [President Trump] going to set if he says, ‘We’re going ahead but we want something in exchange?’” he said. “That’s the big question.”
Ottawa has made it clear the existing permit approvals for the Canadian portion of the pipeline remain in place, and it is up to TransCanada to decide if it wants to renew its application with the United States.