The announcement this week that British Columbia and Alberta had reached an agreement on a pipeline ‘framework’ came as something of a surprise, given rumoured frost relations between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta’s Alison Redford.
While some, such as the Provincial Chamber of Commerce are lauding it, others, such as Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald say it’s a whole lot of nothing.
“It was an odd spectacle,” Macdonald said. “It put the story into the news cycle but the purpose is not clear to me.”
Macdonald says the nothing has changed with the announcement.
“Alberta was never going to allow BC to have any royalties as this framework says, and nothing else changed.
“It didn’t clarify anything. Most British Columbians would be of the view that something is going on behind the scenes. The ever-changing BC Liberal position on pipelines has nothing to do with the true intent of the government.”
Doug Clovechok, Macdonald’s opposition in the last election, and current Regional Director of Zone 2 for the BC Liberal Party disagrees that it is meaningless.
Clovechok believes some real progress has been made, especially by Alberta accepting B.C.’s five conditions for pipelines.
“Premier Clark has been crystal clear from the beginning that any agreement made with Alberta and/or the proponent would have to satisfy the five conditions for proposed heavy oil pipelines that BC has set,” Clovechok said. “These five conditions will ensure the responsible production of energy as well as its safe transport to new markets.
“Premier Redford Alberta has agreed to all of BC’s five conditions which the first four are focussed upon the highest safety and environmental standards possible and the rights of First Nations. Condition 5, which Alberta has now accepted, sets out BC’s right to negotiate real economic benefits with industry and is a huge victory for our province.”
Clovechok also said rumours of frosty relations have been exaggerated.
“In my opinion and from what I know about this process, there has never been any evidence that the two Premiers have had anything but a good, constructive working relationship. When it comes to “frosty”, it is my experience that certain the media outlets often sensationalize that which is not all that sensational.
“This agreement does not mean that the Northern Gateway Pipeline is now done deal! The proponent has always been obligated and bound to satisfy all of the five condition set out by the Premier Clark; conditions to date they have not satisfied.
“Overall this is a “framework” agreement that demonstrates that the two Premiers are finally speaking the same language around pipeline development and have common purpose in relation to opening new markets for resources.