While the focus of Canada’s energy policy discussions may have shifted southward after Donald Trump’s U.S. election win, the No. 1 priority should be approving domestic pipeline projects, says Gary Doer, former Canadian ambassador to the U.S.
Doer, who served as ambassador from late 2009 until last March, told BNN in an interview that he's "free at last" to say it's hard to make the case for projects like Keystone XL if pipelines are getting rejected in Canada.
"So you come and say, 'We want Keystone voted for' and [the Americans] say, 'What about your own backyard? How are you doing?' and 'you're not approving anything in Canada,'" Doer said.
U.S. President-elect Trump has said he’ll revive the review process for the Keystone XL during his first 100 days in office. The proposed extension to TransCanada’s pipeline project has been entangled in legal and regulatory hurdles in the U.S., and was rejected by the Obama administration in November 2015 after seven years of review.
Doer said the Canadian government and the provinces should prioritize national projects to help ease future negotiations.
"We've got to get pipelines built in our country," he said. "We can't keep asking in the States when we are not willing to do it in Canada."
Trump has also said he'll walk away from international agreements to cut greenhouse emissions, which some critics say could make Canadian companies less competitive if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sticks to his carbon pricing plan.
But Doer said the government shouldn't be afraid to have its own climate policy.
"You’ve always got to keep an eye on your competitors, but Canadians also want to have cleaner air and cleaner water so I think we should get on with it, but not completely put our industries out of business," Doer said.