B.C. premier denies taking 'toll-gate' approach to pipeline
Published Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 26, 2012 10:09AM EDT
B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she's not trying to set up "toll-gate" barriers for Alberta's oil, but said she won't stop fighting to ensure her province is properly protected against the risks of major pipeline projects.
Alberta's proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline would run from the oilsands across B.C. to the Pacific coast, making the oil accessible to Asian markets.
Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have been locked in a public standoff over the project after Clark demanded B.C. receive a larger share of the royalties in exchange for the environmental risk -- a demand Redford has so far rejected.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird weighed in, suggesting Clark was taking a "toll-gate" approach that could set an unhealthy precedent for the rest of the country.
Clark told CTV's Canada AM it was an unfair characterization.
"Heavy oil is a unique and very dangerous commodity to move. We're not talking about grain here," she said. Clark noted that B.C. moves a lot of natural gas and has five pipeline projects underway to do so.
"We know (natural gas is) a relatively low-risk commodity to move. Heavy oil is a very, very different proposition for us," she said.
Clark and Redford, along with the other premiers, are attending the annual Council of the Federation summit, which is being held in Lunenburg, N.S. Their dispute has threatened to overshadow the meetings.
On Wednesday the two premiers appeared to be avoiding each other but Clark said they sat across from each other at dinner on Wednesday night and the mood was amiable -- though they didn't discuss the pipeline.
Clark said she won't back down from an ultimatum she made Wednesday that Alberta can either negotiate a compromise with B.C., or forget the pipeline altogether.
"For me, I'm going to stand up and fight for B.C. There is only one premier here in Halifax today that's going to fight for B.C. and that's the B.C. premier, so I'm going to do my job," Clark said.
Redford has accused Clark of trying to rewrite Confederation, and said Alberta doesn't plan on paying out more cash to the province.
However, Clark maintained Thursday she simply wants all the parties to sit down and discuss how the project can benefit all the parties involved.
Redford said Wednesday she was open to discussing the matter, but she didn't believe the dispute would be resolved this week.
"There will be lots of time for opportunity and discussion," Redford said.
"It would be wrong for anyone to characterize that we're not going to talk, but at this point in time, this isn't the week for it."
Over the course of a projected 30-year period, the Northern Gateway would generate an estimated $81 billion in tax revenue. Under the course of the current plan, 8.2 per cent of that revenue would go to B.C. -- totalling about $6.7 billion.
Ottawa would receive about $36 billion and Alberta would get roughly $32 billion, according to research commissioned by the B.C. government.