BC's unelected and unelectable premier, Christie Clark, is throwing "free enterprise" caution to the wind in a desperate bid to reverse her political fortunes.
After dummying-up for months about the provincial government's position on the Northern Gateway pipeline, Clark seems to have figured out that Enbridge is a very real millstone round her and her party's neck with an already tough election just a year away.
But Clark also showed she's not really onside with the majority of BC'ers who want the pipeline initiative scrapped. What she's really after is a better deal from Ottawa and Alberta. She wants them to sweeten the package, "in order for it to work for us."
Clark’s comments came the same day Enbridge promised to add $500 million in safety improvements to its proposal, which the company said is meant to address concerns raised by first nations and the public. First nations in northern B.C. were quick to say the additional safety measures would not alter their opposition to the 1,150-kilometre pipeline between the Alberta oilsands and Kitimat, however.
Clark spoke one day after she held extraordinary face-to-face meetings with the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan — as well as a phone call with Prime Minister Stephen Harper — giving all three a warning that her government will next week lay out its demands on the Gateway project.
“I was giving them the heads up on what we’re going to be talking about next week because I don’t want my colleagues, particularly our neighbours in Alberta and Saskatchewan, to be surprised,” Clark told The Vancouver Sun Friday.
Clark said that as early as Monday she will provide “a little bit more detail about what British Columbians need to see out of the proposal in order for it to work for us.”
“British Columbians want to have our environment protected and they want to know that we’re going to be looking out for their best interests when it comes to jobs and economic benefits,” she said.
Clark's weasel words are doublespeak for a political shakedown. The only way to protect the environment is to block the construction of the pipelines and derail the supertanker bitumen traffic. Clark may talk tough but she can be had for the right price.
Enbridge today made a half-trillion dollar gesture promising supposed safety improvements including thicker pipelines and permanent staffing of installations along the pipeline routes. Enbridge, it seems, knows the proposal is in trouble and has become a lightning rod for popular resistance in British Columbia. We don't want the damned thing. Full stop.