Conflict Brews Between Premiers: Pipeline from Bruderheim At Risk?
Although remaining largely silent on the issue of running the Gateway pipelines through their province, the BC Government this week released a list of requirements before they would consider the construction and operation of heavy oil pipelines within the province.
â€śOur government is committed to economic development that is balanced with environmental protection,â€ť said BC Premier Christy Clark, announcing her governmentâ€™s expectations. â€śOur government has identified and developed minimum requirements that must be met before we will consider support for any heavy oil pipeline projects in our province,â€ť she continued.
Among BCâ€™s expectations are the development of world-leading marine and land oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems. The BC government is also demanding what it terms a â€śfair share of the fiscal and economic benefitsâ€ť of any proposed heavy oil pipline.
The latter demand was soundly rejected, however, by Premier Redford. â€śItâ€™s certainly not a path that Iâ€™m prepared to go down as the premier of the province,â€ť Redford told reporters earlier this week, indicating her belief that Clark is suggesting changing â€śthe fundamental fiscal arrangements of Confederation.â€ť
Clark may be disappointed in legal analysis presented this week, which indicates that Redford may be well-founded in her belief that BC is not deserving of any special status on this issue.
Notably, in a blog post released by the University of Calgary Faculty of Law on Wednesday, analysts citing a variety of cases indicated that BCâ€™s legal position is â€śweakâ€ť with its â€śfair shareâ€ť demand. In particular, â€śthe proposed Northern Gateway pipeline will be an interprovincial work [and]… therefore subject to federal jurisdiction and not provincial jurisdiction,â€ť they said. This implies that BC is not in a legal position to â€śfrustrate a work… consider[ed] to be in the national interest.â€ť
But what may prove to be Redfordâ€™s larger challenge in supporting Enbridgeâ€™s pipeline is not BC Premier Clark, but rather Clarkâ€™s most likely replacement.
Polling is consistently showing that the BC NDP Opposition, led by Adrian Dix, will likely form a massive majority government in BCâ€™s scheduled election next May. Clarkâ€™s government is also faced with this weekâ€™s report by BCâ€™s auditor general, claiming that government has understated this yearâ€™s deficit by over $500 million.
Notably, the BC NDP has formally registered its opposition to the Enbridge project, and also launched a province-wide campaign against the proposal.
â€śThe latest version of the [Governing BC] Liberalsâ€™ ever-shifting [Northern Gateway] position still does not acknowledge the fundamental problems with this proposal â€“ that it threatens both BCâ€™s economy and environment,â€ť Dix said earlier this week. â€śSince the government refuses to do so, itâ€™s clearly up to British Columbians to come together, make their voices heard and oppose the Enbridge pipeline,â€ť Dix concluded.