Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver is dismissing Al Gore’s comments about Canada’s “resource curse” as exaggerated and “over the top.”

Gore, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning climate change activist who lost the 2000 U.S. presidential election to George W. Bush, told The Globe and Mail the “so-called resource curse” damages beautiful landscapes and adds to “the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.”

Gore made the comments in response to questions about Alberta’s oilsands boom and debate surrounding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

He said the push to build the pipeline, which would carry bitumen from Alberta to the Texas coast, “ultimately hurts Canada.”

Oliver told CTV’s Power Play Monday that Gore’s remarks were “over the top,” but he doesn’t think the prominent Democrat’s criticism will have an impact on Keystone’s approval in the U.S.

A draft environmental report from the U.S. State Department raised no major concerns with the pipeline, but U.S. President Barack Obama has the final say on the proposed project.

“I think that what is happening here is that, as the decision approaches, some of the more strident voices in opposition to the development of hydrocarbons are out there with their exaggerated, over the top comments,” Oliver said in a phone interview from Europe, where he’s lobbying against proposed legislation that would require a reduction in the greenhouse gas intensity of vehicle fuels. Under the European Union’s formula, bitumen would get higher greenhouse gas values than crude oil.

Oliver said Canada’s oilsands are being unfairly maligned. He said Canada’s natural resources represent 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, create much-needed jobs and boost the economy.

“We are immensely blessed to have the resources we have and if we develop them responsibly…we can ensure prosperity and security for Canadians for generations to come,” he said.

But Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Gore’s comment were fair “because there is no other way to describe how we treat the atmosphere.

“We’re treating the atmosphere as an open dump for free,” she told Power Play.

May said Canada need to diversify its energy resources.

“We can still be producing from the oilsands but we don’t want it to be the most rapid development of greenhouse gases in Canada,” she said.

“We need to have the other resources: the sun, wind power, geothermal – all the things we should be doing that right now we’re ignoring.”