Enbridge shows Clark’s weaknesses

We have grown accustomed to the government of Premier Christy Clark sitting on the fence with both ears on the ground

We have grown accustomed to the government of Premier Christy Clark sitting on the fence with both ears on the ground. So, it comes as no surprise this week that its prerequisites for support of the Enbridge pipeline project raise more questions than they answer.

In fact, in the guise of offering conditions for the project to proceed, the government seems to be signalling that this heavy oil pipeline is dead in the water.

The five “minimum project requirements” are glaringly obvious: Successful completion of the National Energy Board (NEB) environmental review process, world-leading marine oil spill prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline, the same for land oil spills, the addressing of aboriginal and treaty requirements and a fair share of the economic benefits.

It staggers the imagination to figure out why it took Premier Clark’s brain trust so long to draw these lines in the oil sands. Further, the prospect that any or all of them can be achieved is slim and none.

Let’s start with the economics of the deal: the pipeline will generate $80 billion in provincial and federal taxation revenue over 30 years. That includes $36 billion for Ottawa and $32 billion for Alberta with B.C. getting less than $7 billion. To fly, this deal must pay B.C. a share commensurate with its risk, but Alberta has already refused to share its pipeline revenue and the feds will likely follow suit.

Second, there will never be measurable aboriginal support for a pipeline. In fact, we can anticipate that First Nations will mount a Supreme Court challenge if the NEB gives Enbridge the green light.

Finally, regardless of good intentions, no government can guarantee environmental indemnity on the land or on the sea, regardless of the amount of time, money and engineering invested in prevention and recovery systems.

What remains unclear is why Premier Clark did not lay out these five preconditions for all the world to see before arriving at the side door of the Alberta legislature in Edmonton last week for what she hoped would be a clandestine energy issues chat with Premier Alison Redford.

A “frustrated” Redford was unimpressed by Clark’s dithering over Enbridge and let her hang out to dry the next day on the front page of the Edmonton Journal.

Redford told the Journal: “If I was in her shoes, I would be trying to set in place a set of conditions that … would allow the project to go ahead but that would work with industry, not just Enbridge but other companies that are looking at pipelines in B.C., to try to come up with a framework that makes sense to let that investment come into the province.”

Apparently, Clark heard just part of the message.

Redford — displaying nation-building qualities that Clark can only dream of — has been gathering support for a national energy strategy, saying Canada’s prosperity demands a united front to exploit the nation’s vast resources.

She met last week with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and her calls for deeper east-west energy ties have been embraced by Quebec and by the Conservative-dominated Senate energy committee.

This week, premiers Clark and Redford and their counterparts are in Halifax for Council of the Federation meetings where a national energy strategy will be high on the agenda. Even with her eleventh-hour list of pipeline prerequisites tucked under her arm, Premier Clark has very little to bring to the table. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Ballet Victoria is honouring Rosemarie Liscum, the president of the board of directors who was instrumental in the building the dance company. Liscum died earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Ballet Victoria)
Rosemarie Liscum remembered as dedicated, instrumental builder of Victoria Ballet

The president of the ballet company’s board of directors died at the age of 59

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Three Legged Dog Productions performed Jesus Christ Superstar in 2019. Tim Penney photo
Non-profit plans musical renaissance in the Comox Valley

Three Legged Dog Productions is preparing for a summer residency at Filberg Park

Most Read