December 6, 2016 / 7:12 PM / 2 years ago

Canada energy minister apologizes for pipeline protests remark

OTTAWA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Canada’s natural resources minister on Tuesday said he was sorry for remarks he made about anti-oil pipeline protests that some people interpreted as a threat to use troops against demonstrators.

Jim Carr, speaking after Ottawa approved Kinder Morgan Inc’s plans to build an oil pipeline, said last Thursday that in case of violent protests the government would keep people safe “through its defense forces, through its police forces.”

Opposition legislators accused Carr, a member of the Liberal Party government, of using reckless and incendiary language. Environmental and aboriginal groups said they would do all they can to oppose Kinder Morgan’s bid to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to the Pacific Coast from Alberta’s oil sands.

“I didn’t choose my words carefully last week and I regret that,” Carr told reporters on Tuesday. Carr said Canada had a tradition of tolerating and embracing dissent.

“I regret if people were concerned. I wanted not at all for images to be conjured up ... I am fully confident that Canadians will be peaceful in the way in which they express themselves on this and other decisions.”

Although Kinder Morgan plans to start construction in September 2017, members of the ruling Liberal Party said the company is likely to face a series of protracted court challenges before it can dig.

Carr declined to draw comparisons between any future protests against Trans Mountain and a stand-off in the United States, where a coalition of activists has been demonstrating against a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool)

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