Alberta, B.C. standoff could overshadow premiers' meetings
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 8:35AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 10:45PM EDT
While the escalating war of words between the premiers of Alberta and B.C. threatens to become the main focus of premiers' meetings in Nova Scotia, leaders are trying to ensure every province's concerns are addressed.
The premiers are arriving in Lunenburg, N.S. today for the annual Council of the Federation summit which begins Thursday.
However, in recent days B.C. Premier Christy Clark has come under the spotlight after she warned the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline will not be approved unless Alberta is willing to share some of the royalties with B.C.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said that's not an option and B.C. doesn't have the authority to change the rules on how pipeline projects are approved.
The pipeline would carry Alberta oil across B.C. to the Pacific coast, making it accessible to Asian markets.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, the host of the Lunenburg gathering, said energy concerns affect all provinces in Canada and what's needed is a national strategy that protects everyone’s interests.
"The Council and Federation endorsed an energy strategy in 2007 so we already have the basis for an energy strategy and what we're really looking to do is build on the work we've already done," Dexter told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.
"I think there are lots of reasons to expect that we'll be able to find a common strategy, one that will meet the desires, meet the ambition of all the provinces."
Dexter said the issues currently dividing Alberta and B.C. shouldn't overshadow other important issues at the premiers' meetings.
"We are a diverse country with many, many energy resources, oil and gas is one, we have great hydro electric resources, in Nova Scotia we are moving forward with innovative technology like tidal power, we have great wind resources and developing forms of renewable energy," Dexter told Canada AM.
"So there's a lot that would have to go into any type of an energy strategy and I think where the premiers want to do...is find a constructive long-term vision for energy in Canada."
Dexter also suggested the premiers will discuss ways of better engaging with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on issues such as health care and the economy.
CTV's Richard Madan, reporting from Lunenburg, said it will be difficult to shift the focus away from the "showdown" between Clark and Redford.
And while the establishment of a national energy strategy would be "precedent setting" and likely change the way provinces chart their own path, it is a challenging proposition, Madan said.
"If you think of Canada you have this loose confederation of these 10 provinces all with competing interests. A national energy plan that everyone can agree to -- that's going to be tricky."