Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he is seeking clarification from the U.S. ambassador over comments from the White House that appeared to link approval of the Keystone XL pipeline with Canadian environmental policy reforms.

Wall said he sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson seeking clarification late this week. His letter was sent just days after U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech. In Tuesday night’s speech, Obama said he would take aggressive action on climate change.
Jacobson later told The Canadian Press that Obama’s message was meant for Canada as much as it was for Congress.

Wall tells CTV’s Question Period that such an expectation could be viewed as U.S. interference in Canadian politics. 

“Lately we’ve been very concerned by the notional linkage between Keystone approval and some sort of change in Canadian domestic policy that would be preferred by the U.S. administration,” Wall tells CTV QP’s Kevin Newman.

There have been “some challenges for some time,” on the public relations front for Canada’s energy industry, Wall said, including views expressed from U.S. environmental groups that paint Canadian oil sands in a bad light.

He acknowledged that Canada needs to do a better job of getting its message out, but said the country is “doing more than having a discussion” about new regulations in the oil industry.

“Now B.C. has a price tax, we have our greenhouse gas emissions legislation, we will develop our own fund and levy for those who are emitting beyond limits,” Wall said.

He added: “It’s not Canada that needs to catch up to the United States in this regard. It’s the other way around.”

The linkage unfairly singles out Canada, Wall said.

“They’re exporting oil from countries like Saudi Arabia that don’t grant full rights to women. They’re importing oil from Nigeria, the carbon footprint of which is very high when you account for the tanker traffic,” Wall said.

“There doesn’t seem to be any protests about that.”

The missive to Jacobson is the second letter Wall has sent to U.S. officials in recent months. He said Sunday he has not received a response yet to a letter he sent Obama urging the president’s approval of Keystone. Ten U.S. governors signed the letter.

Wall spoke as thousands were expected to attend a climate rally at The National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. The demonstration, led by, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus, is being held to urge Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline.

For the full interview with Wall, and to find out what he has to say about Senate reform, tune in to CTV Question Period at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. in Atlantic Canada).  Also on today’s show: Mark Carney’s ‘exit interview.’