By Theophilos Argitis
June 24 (Bloomberg) — Canadian New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, head of one of three opposition blocs in Parliament, called for an end to preferential U.S. access to the country’s energy supplies.
Canada, the biggest exporter of oil and gas to the U.S., should renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to repeal provisions that guarantee a secure supply of energy to the country’s southern neighbor, Layton said in an interview.
Management of Canada’s energy riches may be a dominant issue in elections expected as early as this year, amid concerns about regional economic disparities, gasoline prices and the environmental toll of oil projects. Scrapping the provision would allow supplies to be redirected to Canadian consumers if there’s an “energy crunch,” Layton said.
Nafta, which came into effect in 1994, “locks us into an engagement of our energy to meet American needs, essentially putting in the back seat our own national needs,” Layton, 57, said in his Parliament Hill office in Ottawa. “No other country has allowed itself to be handcuffed that way.”