Justin Trudeau stumps for low-carbon economy

Canadian prime minister puts environment near top of priority list.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Nov. 5, 2015 at 6:22 AM
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OTTAWA, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- During challenging times, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the nation's economy and job growth would revive on the back of cleaner energy.

In a last-minute October surge, the Liberal Party in Canada emerged victorious in national elections, pushing the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper into the opposition. As prime minister, Harper 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.

Trudeau, however, positioned himself as a leader for change.

"We [are] committed to fighting climate change and protecting our environment," he said in an open letter to the Canadian people.

Canada's economy relies heavily on the oil and natural gas sector. With much of its export economy depending on a United States producing more of its own resources, the government under Harper responded by courting potential European and Asian investors to its energy sector.

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.

Trudeau said in a letter to lawmakers that strong support for education and the environment will be the pillars of the nation's economy. "Real and immediate challenges," he said, are present in forms ranging from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change.

"We will demonstrate national leadership and work with the provinces and territories to take real action on climate change and create the clean jobs of tomorrow," he said.

There was no public response from the Conservative Party of the oil and gas industry on Trudeau's introduction. Before the elections, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said less than half of the potential voters in the oil-rich province of Alberta felt the economy was in good shape. The industry group estimated about 36,000 jobs, most of them in Alberta, were lost as a result of the market downturn in 2015.

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