Bloomberg News Chronicles Keystone XL Delays as Harper Dubs Obama ‘Frustrator-in-Chief’


Canada’s first hint of trouble over the Keystone XL pipeline came as far back as 2011, the first time that President Barack Obama got on the phone with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and told him there’d be a delay while a new route was studied so as to protect the Sandhills and Ogallala aquifers.

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This was Canada’s first solid intimation “that the U.S. couldn’t be counted on to take Canada’s oil,” Bloomberg notes in an extensive story chronicling the pipeline’s latest two years and its effect on U.S.-Canada relations. The realization “came as a shocking epiphany” for Canada, Bloomberg reports.

“The president’s call that day jolted the Canadians awake,” Bloomberg said in a 4,500-word story on April 26. “It convinced Harper that Obama was treating a long-presumed ‘special relationship’ between Canada and the U.S., enshrined in the 1989 Free Trade Agreement, as a political football. It would set a brittle tone on both sides of the border as the Keystone battle became a contest of contrasting political wills and sensibilities as much as a fight over oil development.”

Obama took office just as Harper was voicing his aspiration to build Canada into an energy superpower, Bloomberg said. 

“Harper, according to many of his advisers, thinks of Obama as a kind of frustrator-in-chief,” Bloomberg said, quoting anonymous inside sources.

Read Bloomberg’s full profile of the leaders’ relationship, How Obama Shocked Harper as Keystone's Frustrator-in-Chief.