Premier Christy Clark brings her bogus five conditions that must be met for her support of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline to a Prince George Chamber of Commerce lunch today.
She's here just four days before the start of a month of hearings by the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel looking at the proposal. During their time in Prince George, the panel members will be looking at social, economic, environmental and engineering issues associated with the pipeline. Enbridge will speak to those issues and so will various First Nations, governments and environmental groups who have registered to present evidence. The public consultation sessions were already held earlier this year.
Clark is trying to talk tough with her conditions but they are all ridiculous.
Three of the conditions have nothing to do with Enbridge or Alberta or the federal government.
The first condition is the Joint Review Panel has to approve the construction of the pipeline. That's a given for all parties - nobody will dispute that basic fact.
Clark wants the best prevention practices in place and the best response plans in the world in place to deal with any oil spill on water (condition number two) and land (condition number three).
That's the Joint Review Panel's job to ensure and Clark is in no position to argue with the panel's findings should the panel rule that Enbridge's plans have met the required oil spill prevention and response protocols. It's a "joint review," meaning it is a collaborative review by the provincial and federal government.
That leaves her last two conditions.
First, she's insisting on First Nations participation and respect for aboriginal traditional territories. That's a rather condescending condition since regional First Nations leaders can make up their own minds what their conditions will be for supporting or rejecting the pipeline.
Furthermore, it's a condition high on political rhetoric and low on details about what constitutes participation. Notice how she does not say her support is conditional on full or partial support by area First Nations. If by participation, she means the aboriginal community in Northern B.C. is heard by the review panel, then her condition has already been met.
And then there's that last condition, the one that's been getting all the attention.
B.C. is taking most of the risk but not enough of the economic benefits from the pipeline, she argues. This condition boils down to everybody's favourite two words, from NHL players and owners, to UNBC support staff.
Which begs the question "more money from whom?"
Alberta has made it clear it isn't sharing royalties and it is under no historical or legal obligation to do so.
The federal government also has no obligation to compensate B.C. for having a pipeline run through it.
That leaves Enbridge.
From the company's standpoint, if the pipeline proposal has passed the muster of an extensive federal and provincial review process, why should it have to give the B.C. government extra money?
Clark isn't threatening to shake down mining or liquid natural gas companies for more money, even after they pass the review process, so what's so special about Enbridge?
Clark has suggested she's willing to hold the entire project hostage by refusing provincial regulatory approvals.
The premier does not have -- and should not have -- the authority to turn otherwise routine decisions made by government regulatory agencies or Crown corporations into a bargaining chip for political ends.
These "tough talk" conditions are simply tricks she's brought into the conversation to distract everyone from the answer to the only question that counts.
Is your government for or against the pipeline, Madame Premier?