On a trip to Calgary earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he “misspoke” when he told a Peterborough, Ontario audience the tar sands/oil sands will have to be phased out over time.
“I misspoke. I said something the way I shouldn’t have said it,” he told a reporter.
“We know our transition off of fossil fuels is going to take a long time,” he added. “My responsibility now…is making sure Canadians have good jobs, making sure communities are prospering…and doing it in a way that understands our responsibility to the environment and future generations.”
At a Tuesday evening town hall, Trudeau took tough questions and heckling for his Peterborough comments, with at least one audience member demanding a retraction. “You cannot come to this province and attack the single biggest employer,” said participant Merle Terlesky. “You are either a liar or you’re confused, and I’m beginning to think it’s both.”
Trudeau responded that “the greatest responsibility of any prime minister is to get our resources to market and, yes, that includes the oilsands.” But he cited ex-prime minister Stephen Harper’s (rhetorical) acknowledgement of the need for long-term decarbonization, adding that “we have to manage the transition off fossil fuels.”
The PM also went out of his way to acknowledge the tough times Alberta has faced through more than two years of crashing oil prices. “Alberta is struggling, and has been struggling for the past few years,” he told participants. “I know there is strength and resilience here,” and “Canadians are here for Albertans and will help you through these difficult times.”