​Kenney sets sights on Democratic hopefuls aiming to block Keystone XL pipeline

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks with U.S. governor Steve Bullock as part of his trip to Washington last week. Image: Twitter/Jason Kenney

Alberta's Jason Kenney is the latest Canadian premier to take aim at U.S. Democrats, calling out presidential hopefuls who want to block the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

Kenney, speaking at a news conference at the Canadian Embassy in Washington alongside four of his provincial counterparts, wondered aloud – without being asked – why a party that claims to be best friends with Canada would want to undermine one of its most important industries.

Though he didn't name names, Kenney appeared to be speaking specifically about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, two progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, who have promised to block the controversial Keystone XL project should they win the White House.

"Many of them, quite rightly, admire Canada as a progressive liberal democracy, as a close friend and ally of the United States,'' Kenney said Saturday.

"Why then would they threaten to tear up an agreement that will be the basis of a multibillion-dollar Canadian investment in this country to become an even bigger and more reliable secure source of energy?''

To do so, he suggested, would be akin to welcoming imports from corrupt Middle Eastern regimes that belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

"Why are they prepared to do great economic damage to their closest friend and ally, the most progressive and liberal source of energy on Earth, when they don't threaten to ban OPEC imports into the United States?'' he said.

"If Americans are not able to depend more on Canadian energy in the future, guess what? They'll have to depend more on OPEC dictatorship oil in the future from regressive regimes that have zero environmental transparency, lower environmental standards and no respect for human rights in many cases, regimes that spread violence, conflict and extremism around the world.''

Kenney's remarks were delivered as a belated response to a question that was put to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who on Friday made a passing complaint about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her decision to rip up her copy of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech.

Ford, who also called the prospect of a Sanders presidency ``scary,'' refused Friday to elaborate on what he said, insisting he prefers to remain ``laser-focused'' on his bilateral mission to fortify trade relations with governors and promote the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"Let me tell you why I'm here,'' he said.

"I'm laser-focused on making sure we work with other governors _ and I don't care what political stripe they're from; they can be Democrats, they can be Republicans. I'm going to work with whomever gets elected ... to make sure we continue on job creation, economic development, building relationships. That is the reason we are here.''

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