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Canada's Trudeau gets nod for green agenda

Advocacy group says Labor has been relatively quiet on low-carbon issues.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Canadian Liberal leader and Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau gets strong support from oil-rich Alberta province while environmental group questions his commitment to a low-carbon economy. Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI
Canadian Liberal leader and Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau gets strong support from oil-rich Alberta province while environmental group questions his commitment to a low-carbon economy. Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI | License Photo

EDMONTON, Alberta, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The premier in the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta said she was looking forward to working with the next prime minister on environmental protection.

In a last-minute surge, the Liberal Party in Canada emerged victorious, pushing the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper into the opposition.

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley welcomed the outcome of the Canadian federal election and the upcoming tenure of Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau.

"By growing our economy and protecting the environment, we can continue to make Alberta and Canada a great place to live, work and raise a family," Notley said in an emailed statement.

Alberta announced plans in June to double a tax on carbon under the authority of Notley, who is seen as an advocate for a low-carbon economy.

Most of Canadian oil sector activity is based in Alberta, a province that in the past has defended its environmental record against criticism of its carbon-intensive type of production. In August, the premier appointed a five-member panel to develop a climate change strategy for resource-rich Alberta.

Nearly all of the Canadian oil and gas exports head to the United States, which is reducing imports of foreign reserves because of increased domestic production from shale deposits. The Canadian government has responded by courting potential European and Asian investors to its energy sector.

The downturn in crude oil markets, meanwhile, is hurting the Canadian economy in general. Statistics Canada reported real gross domestic product slipped 0.2 percent in May, the last full month for which data are available, for the fifth straight month for declines and a sign the Canadian economy is moving into formal recession.

Harper's administration, meanwhile, had tried to expand Canada's energy reach outside of North America at the same time as lobbying in favor of new oil infrastructure, like the Keystone XL oil pipeline planned through the United States.

In an introduction of the incoming prime minister, the Labor Party of Canada notes Trudeau's strong support for education and the environment as pillars of the nation's economy.

Advocacy group Oil Change International said Trudeau's position on climate issues hasn't been convincing, noting the lack of focus during the campaign on a low-carbon Canadian economy.

"Tar sands and pipelines are Trudeau's weakest points when it comes to climate and energy," the group said.

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