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Why Clark and Redford’s truce on the Northern Gateway makes for interesting political theater, but nothing else
December 11, 2013
A month before the 2013 British Columbian election that returned Christy Clark to the premier’s office in Victoria, she famously responded to a question about Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway by saying: “We don’t need Alberta.”
The quote highlights just how testy the relationship between Clark and her counterpart in Edmonton, Premier Alison Redford, had become with respect to the pipeline. The issue came to a boiling point in July when Clark gave five conditions for her government’s support of Northern Gateway, including a requirement to address aboriginal concerns, a National Energy Board environmental assessment, a “world-leading” spill response plan and a “fairer share” of the energy revenues enabled by the pipeline’s construction. It was this last demand that caused so much acrimony between the two premiers but, ironically, it was the first demand – that First Nations concerns be addressed – that is most mission critical.
The two premiers announced on November 5 in Vancouver that, at long last, they had reached a deal: Clark would seek that “fairer share” directly from energy companies as compensation for the risk of an oil spill on the coast. Much newspaper ink has been spilled on the deal and the improving relationship between Clark, who was re-elected on a jobs-and-economy platform, and Redford, whose royalty revenues would spike if Albertan crude could fetch world prices. The announcement of the deal however, does very little to eliminate the risk of legal challenges the pipeline faces in B.C. from aboriginal groups.
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