Canada has conditionally approved a pipeline to bring oil from the Alberta oil sands to the country’s Pacific coast over heavy criticism.
The 1,177-km (731 miles) pipeline project, known as the Northern Gateway, is expected to transport 525,000 barrels a day to Asia-bound tankers.
The move was expected after a review board recommended the pipeline in 2013.
But critics say Canada’s conservative government is ignoring the objections of First Nations and environmentalists.
Ahead of the approval on Tuesday New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair said multiple towns along the pipeline, 130 First Nations groups in British Columbia and hundreds of scientists were against it.
“The prime minister endorsed this pipeline publicly three years ago,” Mr Mulcair said .”No matter what evidence, how many people speak out, how many people stand up against him, he keeps pushing this project.”
Mr Harper has said diversifying Canada’s oil sands production is essential, especially after President Barack Obama has delayed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude to the Gulf of Mexico.