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Canada’s leader spreads the energy gospel in Europe

Canada, a superpower?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper thinks so and that’s the message he spread on his first official visit to Europe, including a stop at the G8 summit in Russia.

To be more accurate, he is selling Canada as an “emerging energy superpower” as he lays out his government’s plan to build the country into a “global energy powerhouse” by developing its vast oil sands and uranium resources.

“We believe in the free exchange of energy products based on competitive market principles, not self-serving monopolistic political strategies,” he told the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce in London.

That was interpreted as an unvarnished criticism of Russia, whose reputation as a reliable supplier was stained earlier this year when it cut off natural gas deliveries to the Ukraine.

Apparently unconcerned about treading on the toes of G8 host President Vladimir Putin, Harper then told the summit that Canada favors allowing market forces, not government monopolies, to call the shots in selling energy, pointing to its long experience in exporting energy to the United States.

Harper made a case for Canada as a safe, reliable source of energy earlier in July when he met President George W. Bush at the White House.

His theme may already be resonating outside Canada.

A poll of 19,579 people in 19 countries commissioned by the BBC World Service rated Canada as the world’s most trusted supplier of energy.

“The only country that passes the test with flying colors is Canada,” the poll concluded.

“On average 60 percent say they trust Canada, while just 25 percent do not.”

Iran is bottom of the heap, with 60 percent of respondents saying they are concerned the major oil exporters may withhold oil from world markets. Venezuela was viewed as untrustworthy by 40 percent of the respondents, while feelings on Russia were split.

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