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‘Customer is always right’

Afghanistan and the oilsands were two topics that came up Thursday when Prime Minister Stephen Harper chatted with one of the most powerful lawmakers in the United States.

Afghanistan and the oilsands were two topics that came up Thursday when Prime Minister Stephen Harper chatted with one of the most powerful lawmakers in the United States.

Harper and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, discussed “a number of topics of mutual interest, including joint national security interests in Afghanistan,” according to a statement from her office.

Pelosi also “emphasized the importance of intellectual property rights, trade and border security.” The two then discussed Pelosi’s recent meetings on “various energy security issues,” including the Alberta oilsands.

Earlier in the day, environmental groups and First Nations urged Pelosi to use her country’s buying power to demand cleaner oil from Canada. They told Pelosi and congressman Ed Markey that the United States can push the federal and Alberta governments to take a tougher stance on the oilsands industry.

“I think they understood very clearly what we were saying, that the customer is always right,” said Rick Smith, head of Environmental Defence. “And in this case, the customer can demand better. And so they were very receptive to that message.”

Pelosi is the third-ranking politician in the U.S., and Markey — chair of an important energy committee — co-authored an environmental bill now working its way through the U.S. Senate.

They are in Ottawa meeting key players in the energy and environmental sectors.

The Americans also met executives from the energy industry and Hydro-Quebec president Thierry Vandal. The executives wouldn’t comment to reporters outside the U.S. Embassy.

 
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