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Fed-bashing has been something of a provincial sport for decades, but in the late 1990s, then-premier Glen Clark turned a battle of words into an international incident.

The so-called salmon war made it onto the front page of The New York Times in 1997 - a spat over fishing rights that dragged the United States and Canada into an unwanted conflict.

"The British Columbians, who have long regarded their distant capital in Ottawa the way many Pacific Northwesterners regard their distant capital in Washington, D.C., filed the lawsuit against the wishes of their own national government, which is the only body that can negotiate international salmon treaties," reported The Times.

In a populist battle over fishing rights that led to a blockade of an Alaskan ferry by B.C. fishermen and the burning of a U.S. flag in Prince Rupert, Mr. Clark closed a torpedo-testing range the province leased to the U.S. Navy at Nanoose Bay.

Mr. Clark blamed Ottawa, saying it mishandled the fishery, and accused the federal government of appeasing the United States by trying to solve the dispute through diplomacy.

In a bid to repair relations with the United States, Ottawa expropriated the facility - the first hostile federal expropriation of provincial lands in the nation's history.

B.C. dropped its appeal of the Pacific Salmon Treaty in the U.S. courts in 2000, signalling a return to "a more co-operative regime" after Mr. Clark was forced to resign.

After a decade of relative peace, the Canada-U.S. agreement for the joint use of the test range expires at the end of this year.