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Dutch trade mission sees opportunities in Alberta’s oilsands

Spearheaded by P.M. Balkenende

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OTTAWA / EDMONTON - NATO’s extended mission in Afghanistan was one of the items on the mind of Dutch Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende when he visited Ottawa recently in conjunction with a 22-company Dutch trade mission heading to Alberta’s oilsands. The Netherlands is looking to its NATO partner Canada for ongoing help in the troubled Asian country where both countries have troops. The Dutch mission is offering high-tech know how to Canada’s oil sector.

The Dutch petro-chemical industry and its infrastructure which are concentrated around Rotterdam have been in the forefront of numerous innovations to meet rising environmental standards in the oil industry. This has not been lost on the Canadian industry, which is confronted with similar concerns. Dutch industry which operates in densely populated regions, always faces scrutiny from people living near factories and shipping lanes. Before companies receive permits to operate their facilities they must meet stringent standards and do not easily obtain time-limited waivers to environmental impact rules.

After meeting his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, Balkenende hosted a reception in the facility of Edmonton’s Dutch Canadian Centre. Among the 250 invitees were representatives of Alberta’s provincial government, trade unions, the education system and business. In a short welcome speech Balkenende, praised the courage of immigrants to start a new life in a foreign country. He noted that anywhere Dutch people gather together a feeling of typical Dutch “gezelligheid” will be present.

The Dutch Christian Democrat who currently heads his fourth cabinet, was surprised to meet distant relative Janny Mokken who had brought along pictures and documents to prove her kinship.

Balkenende’s reception was concluded with an interview for the Dutch language radio program ”Even Pauze,” which broadcasts every Saturday morning via 101.7 World FM Radio but can also be accessed for a limited time via the internet.