If the premier of Alberta has a preference in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, she's not sharing it publicly.
At a news conference during a trip to Washington, D.C., Danielle Smith pointed to different difficulties in dealing with either a Democrat or a Republican.
When asked whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump would be better for her province, she replied: "I think there's challenges with both."
Both candidates have protectionist policies, Smith said.
Her biggest gripe with Biden, the current president, was his decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta on his first day in office.
"We were gravely disappointed," Smith told reporters on Thursday at the Canadian Embassy, during her first trip to the U.S. capital as premier.
Meanwhile, former president Trump is threatening to impose a global tariff of 10 per cent on products worldwide. The details of the policy remain fuzzy, and one Trump ally told Politico that he sees this as a negotiating tactic as a way for Trump to get countries to do things he wants.
Smith is already publicly pushing for a Canadian carve-out. In fact, she's urging for such a carve-out for all North American trading partners.
"We'd be seeking an exemption [to such a tariff]," she said. "Regardless of whether it's [a] Democrat or Republican [president], they need to realize we have a special relationship. Canada and the United States — and I would include Mexico.... So we'd be seeking an exemption to any kind of rules that would prohibit or limit cross-border trade."
In any case, it's far from certain Trump would impose such a tariff on Alberta's most lucrative export, oil and gas; it would fly in the face of his campaign message about lowering energy prices.
Keystone XL 2.0? Not quite
Smith was speaking on the second day of a trip where she met with a number of U.S. senators, mostly Republicans: Rand Paul, Markwayne Mullin, J.D. Vance, Lisa Murkowski, Marsha Blackburn, Steve Daines and Democrat Joe Manchin.
Smith was asked whether Alberta has a next big proposal for a cross-border energy project, a successor to Keystone XL — especially if a pipeline-backing administration returns to the White House.
The Alberta premier didn't get that specific. But she said that if there ever is such a project, it might be easier to build gas or oil export capacity along an existing pipeline route.
Smith pointed to the near-complete Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to British Columbia as evidence of that lesson.
"It used an existing right-of-way," she said. "And so we have a lot of integrated networks. Perhaps that might be a way to restart the conversation" with the U.S.
After discussing the idea with people in Washington, Smith said she would take that observation with her back home to Canada and discuss it with pipeline companies.