Cal Dallas returned to Alberta from Washington, D.C., late Wednesday, optimistic that a Canada-U.S. trade irritant might soon be resolved.
Alberta’s minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations was in the American capital early this week with Premier Alison Redford. They met with politicians and State Department officials, and the United States’ contentious country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules were among the issues discussed.
Under COOL, meat products sold in the U.S. must indicate the country they came from, and be processed and packaged separately.
This is discouraging some processors from buying Canadian beef, pork and other meats.
COOL is being challenged in the courts and through the World Trade Organization, but Dallas said a political solution would be better.
“What I heard from a variety of different sources there is that there are congressmen and senators that are looking at the potential to introduce a repeal amendment into the Farm Bill, which is under debate right now,” he said.
The province announced on Thursday that Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson will also add his voice to the anti-COOL lobby when he meets with American legislators in Washington next week.
“American legislators are debating the Farm Bill. Through the Farm Bill, U.S. legislators can put an end to the economic harm COOL is creating throughout North America,” said Olson.
Pipeline development, and specifically the proposed Keystone XL line that would connect Alberta’s oilsands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, was also discussed during Dallas and Redford’s trip to Washington.
Dallas said they were able to elaborate upon the measures being taken in Alberta to address concerns about greenhouse gas emissions — including carbon capture initiatives, investment in environmental technology and the sharing of best practices among oilsands companies.
“I think the awareness level of some of the work that we’re doing in Alberta is starting to pay some dividends in the context of allowing us to have a broader conversation,” said Dallas.
The meetings included Congress members Matt Salmon of Arizona, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Jim Costa of California; and Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
Dallas and Redford also spoke with officials from the State Department and related agencies involved in Keystone’s environmental assessment. Dallas thinks they were able to strengthen the case for the pipeline.
“For example, we were able to have conversations about the rising use of rail to transport oil from the oilsands area and what that means, both in the context of GHG emissions — which means a larger GHG profile for the oil that’s moved in that manner, as opposed to through the pipeline — and that they were incorporating that kind of information into the assessment.
“That was critically important for us that there was a realization that the oil would continue to find a way to market; the question would be then what would be the most efficient and productive way to ensure that’s done safely.”