Newspaper article The Canadian Press

War of 1812 Makes It into the Keystone Pipeline Debate at U.S. Congress

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

War of 1812 Makes It into the Keystone Pipeline Debate at U.S. Congress

Article excerpt

War of 1812 comes up during KXL debate


WASHINGTON - Against all odds, the War of 1812 managed to work its way into the American debate on the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday.

It began as a good-natured joke at a news conference on Capitol Hill, became a running gag throughout the event and, by the end, it managed to morph into a serious point about U.S. energy security.

Pipeline proponents held the event to bolster their case by pointing to the dispute with Russia.

Their reasoning is that energy dependence leads to weakness -- which is why Europe can't impose serious sanctions against Russia, one of its major gas suppliers. In a similar vein, they say, the U.S. lives in fear of instability or hostility in oil-producing countries.

The expanding North American oil-and-gas sector now provides, they say, a historic opportunity to secure supplies from a trusted ally.

That's when the two-century-old conflict came up.

Canadian ambassador Gary Doer noted that it's been a while since the neighbours fought each other.

"Ever since the War of 1812 we've been allies," Doer said, drawing laughs by adding: "I won't get into that war."

Republican Sen. John Hoeven cut him off to say: "We won that war."

But Doer wasn't prepared to let that go unchallenged: "No, no," the ambassador replied. "You did not win that war, senator. I'll show you references."

A few minutes later, Alex Pourbaix, vice-president of pipeline-builder TransCanada Corp., joked that his company has been waiting since 1812 to get its line approved.

It was all wrapped up eventually on a serious note by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who described the North American energy surge as a golden opportunity. And he mentioned the War of 1812.

"If we have a reliable partner we don't have to worry about: Is (there) gonna be a coup? Will they change the government? Is it going to be hostile against Americans?

"That has never happened -- since 1812. And we don't think it'll ever happen again," Manchin said.

He described the oil-and-gas expansion on this continent as a liberation; a removal of "shackles;" a chance to be a more powerful player on the world stage, capable of helping allies facing an energy crunch. …

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