Negotiations between Alberta and British Columbia over a controversial oil-sands pipeline are at a stalemate, with the province’s two premiers emerging from a short Monday meeting they both described as “frosty.”
B.C.’s Christy Clark wants what she deems a “fair share” of the financial benefits stemming from Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would connect Alberta’s oil sands to a port in Kitimat, B.C., giving energy companies access to markets in Asia. Ms. Clark has placed five conditions that must be met before B.C. will consider supporting Gateway, with three focused on the environment, a fourth on first nations’ rights, and the fifth tied to cash. She argues the environmental issues are paramount, but Alberta’s Alison Redford is dwelling on money.
“I wouldn’t say we made a whole lot of progress,” Ms. Clark told reporters after meeting with Ms. Redford in Calgary. “I’d say it was frosty.”
Ms. Redford, who said sharing bitumen royalties and taxes is out of the question, said Ms. Clark is short on suggestions when it comes to how B.C. could increase its slice of the pipeline’s economic benefits.
“She didn’t have a response. So I don’t have any idea what she means. But she certainly did not at all say that royalties weren’t on the table,” Ms. Redford told reporters after Ms. Clark left. “We’d be very open to any ideas she might have.”
Ms. Clark said brainstorming potential answers is not her responsibility.
Enbridge, Ottawa, and Alberta need to put their heads together to come up with a solution to meet B.C.’s demands, she told reporters covering B.C.’s legislature in a telephone call. “It’s not up to British Columbia to figure out how we are going to meet the five [conditions]. … The ball is very firmly in Alberta’s court now, if there is going to be any change in this, it’s going to have to come from Alberta.”
Ms. Redford, like most politicians in Alberta, is fiercely defensive of the province’s royalties, arguing resources within its borders belong to Albertans and changing the formula would mean rewriting the rules of Confederation. Saskatchewan, which is rich in its own natural resources, backs Ms. Redford’s take on sharing royalties.
Ms. Clark, however, said she does not care where the extra revenue bound for B.C. comes from.
“I’m not going to be the advocate for the Enbridge pipeline,” she said. “As I said to her today, as it stands, right now, there is absolutely no way that British Columbia is going to support this proposal.”
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