MPs vote in favour of forming special Canada-U.S. economic relations committee

Canadian MPs have passed a motion to create a special committee on the economic relationship between Canada and the United States on Tuesday.

The opposition motion passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 326 to 3.

The governing Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and NDP all voted in favour of the Conservative motion.

Members of the Green Party voted against.

The Conservatives, who introduced the motion earlier this month, argued that due to the ongoing coroanvirus pandemic, Canada needs a “serious plan for the economic recovery that recognizes the integration of the North American economy.”

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The move comes less than a month after new U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

Hours after he was inaugurated, Biden signed an executive order to revoke a presidential permit that would have seen the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The decision dealt a particularly hard blow to Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose energy sectors were depending on the US$8 billion project to continue.

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The Alberta government last spring invested US$1.1 billion in the project.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the move a “gut punch” and has called for compensation.

Days after the permit was revoked, Trudeau and Biden spoke by phone, in what was the president’s first call with a foreign leader.

According to the official readout of the call, Trudeau “raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“The Prime Minister underscored the important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship as well as his support for energy workers,” the readout from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The new committee will be tasked with producing reports on those issues by certain deadlines, and also have the power to call the deputy prime minister, foreign affairs minister and the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. as witnesses.

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The committee is expected to study not only the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project, but also the Enbridge pipeline known as Line 5.

It will also study the Buy American provisions announced by Biden late last month.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said the committee will “help advance one of (the) most important pillars of our recovery, the economic relationship between Canada and the United States.”

“At a time when both our countries need to be focused on getting people back to work and restoring our ways of life post-COVID-19, we must begin planning to reopen and rebuild our economy,” O’Toole said.

— With a file from Global News’ David Lao and The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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