Hoback, who was in town attending the Conservative Political Action Conference and meeting with Central and South American parliamentary counterparts, strongly criticized Mulcair’s position on the Keystone XL pipeline project.
While in Washington, Mulcair reiterated his opposition to the project, which would transport petroleum products from Western Canada to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico.
“We were talking to some congressmen and different people here, and I’m just amazed that the leader of the NDP would come down here and do what he’s done,” Hoback said.
“He’s really undermined the whole process. The leader of the Democratic Party in the House, Nancy Pelosi, basically said that he told them that Canadians didn’t believe in the pipeline and the economic benefits in that pipeline were not existent.
“So all the work that we’ve done down here to set the stage to move forward and see a positive result that’s going to benefit constituents in Prince Albert riding and throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta and right across Canada, were undermined by somebody in a matter of an hour, or three hours.
“I just find that so frustrating. I think we need to highlight the fact that this guy should not be allowed to lead Canada anywhere now or in the future. He’s just not capable of representing Canada properly abroad.”
Regina lawyer and NDP federal councillor Noah Evanchuk, a former parliamentary candidate in the Palliser riding, dismissed Hoback’s criticism.
“My father is an executive in the oil patch, and so when I speak about it, I’m not like Mr. Hoback, who’s known to use McCarthyist tactics in parliamentary committees,” Evanchuk said.
“I’m looking at this in terms of the evidence, and what the evidence says is, all Canadians deserve to have access to that type of energy source.”
Evanchuk pointed to Thomas Mulcair’s alternative proposal for a west-east pipeline across Canada, which he argued would create more domestic manufacturing jobs than the Keystone project.
“Randy Hoback is silent on the issue of creating value-added jobs in Canada by way of a west-east pipeline. That’s what Thomas Mulcair is proposing.
“Right now, as we speak, there’s five billion cubic feet a day of unused pipeline capacity from Western Canada to Eastern Canadian refineries -- unused, empty … Wouldn’t it be better for everybody if western Canadians -- who are being punished, by the way, by an oil price differential that Stephen Harper created … could sell our oil at world prices to eastern Canadians?”
While Mulcair denounced the Conservative government for its poor environmental record, Hoback argued that Harper had a far better record than previous Liberal governments. He said the Harper government had improved regulation in the oil sands, set out “achievable” targets for greenhouse gas reduction and increased funding for biofuels.
Responding to Mulcair’s lament that Canada was the only country in the world to pull out of the Kyoto Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Hoback restated Conservative criticisms that Kyoto did not oblige developing countries such as China or India to meet targets.
He also pointed out that the Liberal government that signed the agreement took no concrete steps that would help Canada meet its future obligations to reduce emissions.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t be environmentally friendly,” Hoback said. “We have to be responsible, but Kyoto wasn’t the answer and it wasn’t the way to go forward, and (Mulcair) should understand that.
“If you look at the economic benefits -- if you want a twinned highway to Saskatoon, if you want hospitals -- you have to allow development like the oil sands to take off. You have to allow development like potash to take out.
“If you don’t have the tax revenue and the royalties coming back to the coffers of both provincial and federal government, you will not have twinned highways. You will not have hospitals. You will not have schools.
“Reality is, you have to get the proper balance and you have to do it in an environmental, sustainable way, and that’s what we’ve done.”
He’s really undermined the whole process. - MP Randy Hoback
Evanchuk replied that the position of Hoback and the Harper government makes no sense in light of the current price differential, which has forced Saskatchewan and Alberta to sell crude oil at a rate of $25 to $40 less than the world price due to a glut in supply.
“Saskatchewan crude with Keystone XL would not be selling at world prices,” Evanchuk said.
“We’d still have that same glut of supply, and the transportation problems. Thomas Mulcair is the only leader in Canada proposing a solution to ensure that the people of Saskatchewan get the highest rate of return for their resources.”
Mulcair’s opposition to the Keystone XL project stands in contrast to the position of new Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten, who came out in support of the Keystone pipeline this week.
Hoback offered measured praise for Broten’s position.
“It’s nice to see that he’s supporting Saskatchewan and not taking on the federal role that historically the provincial NDP has done, where they’ve gone and just agreed to Thomas Mulcair’s every nod,” he said.
“At least he’s standing up for the citizens of Saskatchewan, the citizens of Western Canada. It’s nice to see that, because we haven’t had that from previous NDP governments in Saskatchewan.”
Evanchuk, meanwhile, downplayed any differences between the provincial and federal NDP positions on Keystone.
“I don’t see there being any disparity,” he said. “I think what Cam is saying is that he wants to see Saskatchewan get the most value for their resources.
“I think what Cam is saying is he supports a regulated process where we make sure that the pipeline process is safe and secure for the environment and there’s a benefit socially and economically. In fact if you look at the positions, that dovetails nicely with what Tom was saying with the west-east pipeline.”