Vive Le Canada

PM dismisses Klein's criticism
Date: Thursday, October 13 2005
Topic:


PM dismisses Klein's criticism

OWEN SOUND, Ont. (CP) - The federal government has an active role in developing new markets abroad other than the United States for Alberta's oil, Prime Minister Paul Martin said Wednesday, responding to criticism from the province's premier that its petroleum was not Ottawa's to sell.

"Of course the federal government has a role in trying to open markets, new markets, and we will continue to do that," Martin told reporters in Owen Sound, Ont., where he met with community leaders. Martin said while the private sector sells oil, business leaders have encouraged him to develop more markets for oil, softwood and cattle.

"At the same time they say to us, 'Make sure that the border with the United States stays open,' and that's also part of our responsibility."

Martin was responding to criticism from Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who said his province's petroleum isn't the prime minister's to sell.

Martin slammed the U.S. for continuing to impose duties on Canadian softwood lumber while also suggesting that countries such as China and India are becoming a more lucrative market for Canadian oil that the U.S. needs.

However, he and other government leaders have been careful in recent weeks not to directly link the softwood dispute with punishment for the United States on these other trade fronts.

Washington is refusing to recognize the final ruling of a NAFTA panel that said U.S. duties on Canadian softwood are unwarranted.

The Opposition, meanwhile, was calling for Martin to remind the United States of its legal obligation to comply with NAFTA rulings.

"If the U.S. has some difficulty with that . . . then this is going to have repercussions," Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told reporters in Vancouver Wednesday.

The U.S. has collected $5 billion in duties on softwood imports since May 2002, hurting Canadian companies which export lumber south of the border.

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