HALIFAX — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Friday that she couldn’t sign onto a national energy strategy before resolving a dispute over the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Clark stepped out of meetings at the Council of the Federation in Halifax to make the announcement as premiers worked to cobble together a pan-Canadian strategy on energy.
She said she wouldn’t endorse a deal before discussions take place with Ottawa and Alberta over how B.C. would be compensated for allowing the $5.5-billion pipeline to transit through the province.
“British Columbia will not be participating in any of those discussions until after we’ve seen some progress that our requirements for the shipment of heavy oil will be met,” she told a hastily called news conference.
“It’s not a national energy strategy if B.C. hasn’t signed on.”
Clark said she and Alberta Premier Alison Redford had a “very frank discussion” about it Friday morning, but didn’t reveal details or if they planned on holding further talks on the matter.
Clark has said she decided to ask for an unspecified share of royalties and revenues after doing analysis on the pipeline, which will move bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast for shipment to Asia.
Her government has released five conditions she says need to be met before she can move forward with plans for the pipeline. In addition to the demand for a greater portion of the economic benefits, they include the completion of an environmental review now underway, assurances that the “best” responses will be available for potential spills on land and at sea and recognition of aboriginal rights on the land.
Clark repeated her claim that the province bears too much risk from oil spills at sea or on land, while receiving only eight per cent in tax benefits.
She added another wrinkle to the feud when she called on Ottawa on Wednesday to sit down with her and Redford to hash out the issue. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird weighed in on the dispute, questioning Clark’s stance and reiterating the federal government’s support for the project.
Redford has flatly dismissed Clark’s position as one that would “fundamentally change Confederation” because it would mean new negotiations for projects throughout the country.
According to research in an application filed by Enbridge (TSX:ENB), 8.2 per cent of the Northern Gateway’s projected $81 billion tax revenue would flow to B.C. over a 30-year period. That equates to $6.7 billion for B.C., while Ottawa is expected to receive $36 billion and Alberta would earn $32 billion.
Saskatchewan is expected to top the remainder of the provinces in terms of tax benefit, receiving about $4 billion.
Enbridge’s proposed 1,177-kilometre twin line would carry heavy oil from Alberta across a vast swath of pristine B.C. wilderness and First Nations territory to a port at Kitimat, B.C., for shipment to Asia.
Last week, the company announced it will shore up another $500 million in safety improvements.