Americans unaware oil from Canada
A whopping 88% of Americans have a favourable view of Canada despite Ottawa's refusal to join the Iraq war and the recent arrest of homegrown terrorists, according to a new poll.
At the same time, only 4% were aware that Canada is the No. 1 supplier of oil and gas to the United States, ahead of perceived major exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran.
Even further, 41% of the 1,000 voting Americans polled said they would pay more for oil if they were assured it came from a perceived safe source such as Canada instead of the volatile Middle East.
"Americans are especially open to an expanded energy relationship with Canada," Randolph Dove, chairman of the Canada-American Business Council, said yesterday.
The council said 54% of Americans it polled across both major political parties were "strongly favourable" to Canada while 7% had unfavourable views.
The poll, which has a margin of error of just over 3%, coincided with a drive by Ottawa and Alberta to increase Americans' awareness of the close energy links between the two countries.
"This poll serves to substantiate the tremendous opportunity for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada on energy security issues," said Murray Smith, a minister-counsellor for the Alberta government in Washington.
"We must work together to ensure a level of energy supply sufficient to meet rapidly rising demand, as well as to avert the potentially devastating economic impact of a significant supply disruption," he said.
The poll is a jump-off point for the Alberta and Canadian governments to convince Congress and Americans to minimize potential disruptions in both pipeline construction and the movement of skilled labour between the two countries, Mr. Smith said at a news conference.
"We want skilled workers to be able to move freely over the border," he said.
In addition, Mr. Smith said Canada would like to see a streamlined pipeline approval process to allow oil from the vast Alberta oilsands to move to refineries such as those along the Gulf of Mexico .
Alberta is the major supplier of energy to the U.S. About 85% of the province's exports head to the U.S. and, of that, about 85% are oil and gas.
Mr. Smith said Alberta wants to re-assure U.S. investors it is safe to invest in major projects such as the oilsands and that natural gas shipped from Alaska in the US$25-billion proposed Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline would end up in the lower 48 states.
"The gas belongs to whomever puts it in the pipeline," he said.
Mr. Smith said he was convinced that such a huge favourable view of Canada was "a sign there is a real willingness to have a seamless border."
The administration of President George W. Bush is pushing ahead with a new border card for Americans and Canadians by 2008 to boost border security.
Ottawa and many border state governments are worried the pass will stifle movement of trade and people across the border.
The Alberta government is holding a week of promotion in the nation's capital. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is in Washington ahead of the planned visit next week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with Mr. Bush.