The recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project in November by the United States Senate is only the latest chapter of an ongoing saga reflecting a dramatic shift in Canada’s foreign relations in recent years. The Canadian government has been engaging in an aggressive public relations campaign for its booming oil and gas industry. The strategy includes prominent marketing and behind-the-scenes lobbying in close partnership with oil industry executives. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, first elected in 2006, has long maintained his goal was to make Canada an energy superpower. But he has also changed the country’s role and policies in international climate change efforts as a means to achieve that goal.
Canada’s Lobbying Offensive in Washington
A few weeks after then-U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Energy Security and Independence Act in December 2007, Canadian diplomats went on one of their first “pro-fossil fuel” offensives at the direction of Harper’s government. Their goal was to ensure that the legislation wouldn’t stop U.S. federal departments and agencies, including the military, from purchasing fuels derived from Canada’s oil sands.