Canada’s Oil Minister, Unmuzzled

The last time your friendly scribe sought an interview with Joe Oliver, Canada’s minister of natural resources, he was turned down flat. It was February last year. Oliver had made a series of impolitic remarks about the efforts to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which, if it’s ever built, would import oil from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast — and which Canadians believe that the United States would be nuts to reject. “I referred to the fact that some U.S. environmental groups were sending money to Canada to advance their anti-pipeline, anti-hydrocarbon agenda, and I just felt that that effort was working against Canada’s national interest,” is how he puts it now. But shortly after Oliver began speaking out, Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, told his cabinet to refrain from making any remarks that might be construed as commenting on the upcoming presidential election. Hence, no interviews with American columnists.

Joe Nocera

The New York Times, United States

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