With the mid-term elections near, most high-profile politicians in the United States are out on the campaign trail. But Nancy Pelosi’s trail has taken her north of the border.

Energy issues, such as the Canadian oil sands and Canada’s energy relationship with the United States have brought the speaker of the House to Ottawa. Pelosi and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) spoke about energy issues in Ottawa as part of a series of meeting involving speakers from G-8 countries. 

While the subject of the Pelosi-Markey visit is not surprising — both played critical roles in getting a cap-and-trade energy bill though the House before the Senate failed to act on it — the timing and setting of the message is curious.

Beyond the looming midterms, the energy relationship between the United States and Canada is at an interesting point. As the Toronto Star reports, Canada is dealing with internal debates about “TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would significantly increase capacity for the southern flow of Alberta crude.” The oil sands were a lightning rod for activists during the 2010 Winter Olympics and that has continued in the spring, as the enormous oil ponds that have been created as a result of petroleum production in Alberta have enraged environmentalists.

But in an oil-dependent United States, it’s hard to tie Canada’s hands considering that the U.S. relationship with Canada is, by far, a much closer relationship than the ones it has with most OPEC nations.

Still, the situation could not be more delicate and the timing more cantankerous. While Pelosi has arguably done more to push environmental legislation than anyone in government over the past few decades, she is currently fighting to keep both her seat in Congress and her speakership.

And as best as I can recall, Canadians still can’t vote in her San Francisco district.  

Dual citizenship anybody?

Pelosi's trip north of the border comes at energy crossroads
Oil sands, international relations and energy policy make for a touchy visit in Ottawa.