It appears that there are 'no holds barred' in the Harper government's attempts to get U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Over the past several weeks Ministers Baird, Oliver and Kent have made numerous trips to Washington D.C. to lobby lawmakers about the controversial project that could transport up 830,000 barrels of oil per day from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.
On Wednesday — in the U.S. capital — Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver advanced the government's aggressive strategy when he lashed out at James Hansen, a prominent U.S. scientist who once suggested that the end of the civilization could be nigh, thanks to Alberta's 'tar sands.'
"It does not advance the debate when people make exaggerated comments that are not rooted in the facts. And he should know that," Oliver told reporters, following a speech at a think tank.
Oliver wasn't done. He went on CBC's Power and Politics to jab some more.
"As I've said...the oil sands represent 1/1000th of global emissions and for him to say that the development of the oilsands...is 'game over for the planet' is exaggerated rhetoric and someone should call him on that," Oliver told host Evan Solomon.
"He does know his stuff and that's what really makes his comments more inexcusable.
"He knows what he's talking about and he exaggerated and frankly went way way overboard and I think he probably regrets that. I think it's hurt his credibility."
David Schindler, a internationally acclaimed scientist, from the University of Alberta says Oliver's comments about Hansen are out of line.
"Jim Hansen is well respected in the science community. He has received the Blue Planet Prize, one of the world's top awards for science. Oliver is foolish to be making the sort of remarks that he is, the Americans he is dealing with are not stupid enough to discount Hansen," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.
"By acting like this, he is actually jeopardizing Keystone, not promoting it, and making Canada look like a country full of jerks."
Schindler — who in 2004 became an Officer of the Order of Canada — also questions Oliver's stance about the science.
"The numbers on carbon increase, and the role of the oil sands in preventing Canada from reaching any reasonable international agreement on controlling greenhouse gases speak for themselves. For example, Canada, the US and Australia all emit about 21 tonnes of CO2 per year. Thanks to the oil sands, Albertans emit 70," he said.
"No one is fooled by the focus on cuts per barrel, while the barrels of output are rising so rapidly that they overwhelm any gains made per barrel. And then there is air pollution, water pollution, water use, human rights issues with the people of Treaty 8, escalating costs caused by uncontrolled development, the issue of increasing tailing ponds. It is not only about greenhouse gases.
"Oliver is out of his depth, a Shetland pony in the Kentucky Derby."
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