Canada's prime minister on Friday made his strongest comments yet in support of a proposed pipeline from oil-rich Alberta to the Pacific coast, saying his government was committed to ensuring the controversial project went ahead.
Enbridge Inc's Northern Gateway pipeline, which is strongly opposed by green groups and some aboriginal bands, would allow Canada to send tankers of crude to China and reduce reliance on the U.S. market.
An independent energy regulator -- which could in theory reject the project -- last month started two years of hearings into the pipeline.
In remarks that appeared to cast some doubt on the regulator's eventual findings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it had become "increasingly clear that it is in Canada's national interest to diversify our energy markets".
He continued: "To this end, our government is committed to ensuring that Canada has the infrastructure necessary to move our energy resources to ...