Alberta, B.C. at odds over pipeline
Alberta Premier Alison Redford speaks to the media about the Gateway Pipeline, during the Premiers' Capital EX pancake breakfast, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Tuesday July 24, 2012. (QMI Agency/DAVID BLOOM)
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is throwing down the gauntlet over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Alberta and British Columbia continued a public spat Tuesday over the proposed $5.5 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, with both Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford ramping the rhetoric up a notch.
"If anybody thinks this in going to go through British Columbia without the support of B.C., come on - it's just not going to happen," Clark said in an interview.
The pipeline, currently under review, would run from Alberta's oil patch to Kitimat, B.C.
Earlier Tuesday, Redford told reporters in Edmonton that B.C. could forget about getting more money from Alberta coffers.
"We will not share royalties and have not seen anything else proposed and would not be prepared to consider anything less at this time," she told reporters.
On Monday, the governing B.C. Liberals laid out five "minimum" conditions for new heavy oil pipelines on its territory, asking for stricter environmental safeguards and an as-yet undefined "fair share" of the economic spinoffs from the project that would carry oil to Asian markets.
Clark threatened to withhold power from B.C. Hydro and permits necessary for the project to go-ahead if the demands weren't met.
"There are those legal means by which the government could interfere with the project," she said.
B.C's gambit has the potential of fraying what has until now been close ties, and political and constitutional experts say Canada could be heading for an unprecedented showdown over energy between two Western allies.
University of Calgary's David Taras said that Alberta and B.C. are traditionally close and - along with Saskatchewan - have worked to foster deeper economic ties.
He said while it's in no one's interest for the spat to become an emotional standoff, the upcoming election in B.C. adds a "combustible energy" to the current debate.
"It's all interesting - just watching this political battle and the stakes involved - watching Canada's future to some degree," Taras said.
"Lots of jobs, lots of livelihoods, relations with China - it's an incredible tableau."
Brian Lee Crowley, with the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, a public policy think-tank, said Canada's Western-most province is taking a big gamble with its current stance.
"This has the potential to really poison the relationship between Alberta and B.C.," he said.
Canada's premiers meet in Halifax July 25-27 for the Council of the Federation summer meeting. Pipeline and energy issues are on the table.
- with files from Richard Zussman