B. C. Premier Christy Clark is skipping this week’s Western Premiers’ meeting citing legislature commitments, although the opposition says her government has control over House business that would have allowed her to make it.
Ms. Clark, whose officials had initially agreed to the date of the meeting, said Monday she could not attend because she has to be in Victoria to defend the financial operation of her office during a legislature debate.
“I am doing my estimates in the legislature,” she told reporters at an unrelated news conference.
“I know you will all be tuned in for the fabulous television it is going to produce for you in the next couple days. So I wasn’t able to make the Western Premiers,’ regretfully.”
B.C. Jobs Minister Pat Bell will attend instead.
Ms. Clark, discussing her view of the energy debate likely to dominate the gathering, said B.C. is a “energy powerhouse” with potential liquefied natural gas coming online and shipments of coal and other energy products.
“I support a national strategy to this extent: I think we should be co-ordinated amongst provinces. Energy is a provincial responsibility and I want to be cautious about any national strategy that’s going to mean the federal government is really monkeying around in provincial jurisdiction.”
She said provinces are the leaders of the energy economy.
“If I was there, that would be the comment I would offer. I know that Alison Redford and Brad Wall already know my thoughts on that so I am interested in seeing what they will come up with from the meeting.”
Ms. Clark was not available following the news conference to further explain her absence from the meeting Tuesday in Edmonton.
This is the final week of the current legislature session. The timing of the debate would have been known well in advance under B.C.'s fixed legislative calendar.
But Adrian Dix, the Leader of the B.C. New Democrats, said the whole situation was baffling.
“When I first heard the story today, it seemed odd to me,” he said in an interview.
“If she needs my co-operation to allow her to go, I am happy to provide that. To the extent that they absolutely control the scheduling of the Premier’s estimates, I am not sure she needs that.”
Mr. Dix said Ms. Clark should be at the premiers’ meeting. “There are significant issues for British Columbia at the table,” he said.
Jay O'Neill, spokesman for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, said Ms. Clark's office gave notice last week that the B.C. premier would not attend.