News Canada

B.C. premier pulls out of energy talks

By Jessica Murphy, Senior Washington Correspondent

OTTAWA - 

As B.C. Premier Christy Clark forges ahead with her demands for more pipeline spoils, other political leaders are eyeing other options for getting their resources to market.

Clark left Friday's morning meeting of the premiers - gathered in Halifax for their three-day annual summit - to announce she will boycott national energy strategy talks championed by Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

"British Columbia will not be participating in any of those discussions until after we've seen some progress that our requirements for the shipment of heavy oil will be met," she told reporters.

"It's not a national energy strategy if the West Coast gateway to Asia is not part of the discussion and not represented at the table."

On Monday, B.C. Liberals laid out five demands that need to be met before the province would back the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project that would carry Alberta crude to Kitimat, B.C., to then be shipped to Asian markets.

They include beefed up oil spill safeguards and a greater share of the economic spinoffs related to pipelines.

During the closing news conference, Redford, who kept a low profile at the summit, avoided addressing her spat with Clark.

"There's a strong desire on the part of all provinces and territories to find a way forward on a Canadian energy strategy," she said when asked about Clark's decision not to sign on to the plan.

But other premiers hinted if B.C. won't allow oil to flow through its territory, they'll look elsewhere.

"It's a big country, there's sea-to-sea-to-sea and there are lots of opportunities around the country to look at ways we can be an energy supplier to the world," Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said.

"There's an east coast, there's a northern coast, and there's domestic supply."

Redford and New Brunswick Premier David Alward also both expressed interest in exploring ways to ship Alberta bitumen east.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale criticized Clark at the news conference.

"We're all here to protect the interests of our province but we're also here to talk about economic development in the country," she said.

"There are difficult conversations, there are challenges. But we don't get to walk away from them."

The premiers also talked health care and federal transfer payments during the meeting.

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