Harper warns Americans he will ship oil elsewhere
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has warned American officials that his government is "serious" about selling Canadian oil to Asian markets, after a U.S. political fight put the Keystone XL pipeline project on hold.
Harper made the comments in an exclusive interview with CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, which will air in its entirety on Boxing Day at 7 p.m.
Harper was also joined in the interview by his wife, Laureen, who talks about the challenges of raising kids at 24 Sussex Dr. in the age of social media.
When asked how serious Ottawa is about selling oil to China, and run the risk of compromising Canada's relationship with the United States, Harper replied: "I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent, selling our energy products off to Asia."
But the prime minster also said that on a recent trip to the U.S., he was told by a number of senior officials that the Keystone XL pipeline will be approved, thereby opening a new route for Canadian oil to be sent to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
"I ran into several senior Americans, who all said, ‘Don't worry, we'll get Keystone done. You can sell all of your oil to us.' I said, ‘Yeah we'd love to but the problem is now we're on a different track.'"
The pipeline has been delayed as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks more environmental assessments before deciding whether to give the project the green light. He has put off making a decision until after next year's elections.
While Harper talked tough on Canadian crude, he was just as adamant about following through on his campaign promise to kill the long-gun registry. Despite calls to keep the records, Harper wants the database destroyed.
"We're very clear. We're abolishing the registry. If we didn't get rid of the data, we wouldn't be abolishing the registry."
Harper said any province that wants to set up its own registry has the "constitutional right" to do so. However, he thinks such registries are "bad policy."
While he was adamant about his feelings on the gun registry, he was just as adamant that some of the high price tags related to Defence Minister Peter MacKay's travel expenses were merely "the cost of doing business."
MacKay has come under fire in recent weeks for his use of a military helicopter to leave a private vacation to attend to government work, as well as pricey hotel tabs at international conferences that reached as high as $1,452 per night.
Harper said that like many of the delegates to a Munch conference, MacKay stayed at the hotel where the event was held, which resulted in the four-figure nightly bill.
"We encourage our ministers to be frugal," Harper said. "The fact of the matter is that we use government aircraft 80 per cent less than predecessors, we have cut hospitality and those types of ministerial expenses by one-third. So we'll continue to look at opportunities to cut those numbers further."
From international conferences to world affairs, Harper was also clear that he doesn't foresee world leaders agreeing to a mission in Syria like the NATO-led air campaign in Libya.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is facing international condemnation for his regime's violent campaign to quash anti-government protests.
Harper pointed out that the mission over Libya was sanctioned by the UN Security Council and authorized a specific set of actions, which he doesn't foresee for Syria.
"I think we'll continue to see stepped up pressure through diplomatic and trade sanctions," Harper said. "And I don't think it's any secret that our expectation is that this regime will be toppled. It may not be this year, but that time is coming. We'll continue to put pressure to encourage opposition to coalesce and could govern the country."