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1.27.2006
  Al Gore Mixing It Up With The Canadians
Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.

Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

"And the financial interests behind the tar sands project poured a lot of money and support behind an ultra-conservative leader in order to win the election . . . and to protect their interests."

Darcie Park, spokeswoman for oilsands giant Suncor Energy, said she's taken aback by Gore's remarks and hopes they don't resonate with Canadians.

"Our company just doesn't do business that way. We're really puzzled about where these comments came from," she said.

"Canadians understand how elections work in Canada and understand there are these very tight restrictions around what individuals and companies can contribute to individual parties or campaigns."

The federal Elections Act limits how much money individuals, corporations and unions can donate to political parties. Individuals are allowed to give as much as $5,000 a year, while companies and unions are capped at $1,000 a year.

In their election platform, the Conservatives promised to further limit individual donations to a maximum of $1,000 and ban all donations from corporations, unions and organizations.

Parties and candidates are required to make public any contributions exceeding $200.

Gore believes the issue of the oilsands and the sway he contends the industry holds with Harper didn't garner news coverage during the election because "media concentration has taken a toll on democratic principles around the world, and Canada is no exception."

"I see them moving a lot closer to the Bush government. Talk a lot, but do nothing."
 
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