Joe Oliver pledges gentler approach to selling natural resources projects – by Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – December 1, 2012)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Calgary — Joe Oliver is standing by the foreign “radicals” barbs that incited anger among many Canadian environmentalists and others opposed to some resource development.

But the federal Natural Resources Minister is nonetheless promising a kinder, gentler approach to selling pipelines, making personal visits to first nations leaders and pledging to take public feelings into account.

It is a hint of a change in course for the federal government, which has spent years strongly promoting projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline – and deriding critics – at a time of increasing public opposition to such projects.

“Facts and information [are] crucial. But it’s not enough,” Mr. Oliver said in Calgary Friday at an energy summit organized by the Economic Club of Canada. The public, he said, has to be convinced that government is working “to protect Canadians and to protect the environment, and that we care about these issues – and we’re with them when they express their love for the natural beauty of this fantastic country.”

The stakes, he said, are high, and mused that it’s possible Gateway will receive regulatory approval from the National Energy but then face a wall of public opposition.

“If the population is not on side, there’s a big problem we may be confronted [with],” he said.

To win people over, Mr. Oliver has himself embarked on a charm offensive with some of the groups most deeply opposed to new resource projects, in particular Gateway, the $6-billion Enbridge Inc. project to carry Alberta oil to the West Coast for export.

Gateway’s plans call for the pipeline to end near Kitimat, B.C., where oil would be transferred to supertankers on land that is part of the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nation.

On Thursday, Mr. Oliver met with Ellis Ross, the chief councillor of the Haisla. Earlier in the week, he met with Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada.

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