British Columbia Premier Christy Clark (L) listens as Alberta Premier Alison Redford (C) and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall address the media
Credits: REUTERS/DAN RIEDLHUBER
OTTAWA - BC Premier Christy Clark announced Friday her province won't take part in a national energy strategy until Alberta and the federal government agree to discuss her demands for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
"We need to start having the conversation," she told reporters on the sidelines of the annual premiers' meeting in Halifax.
"Alberta has to be willing to sit at a table with B.C. and talk about how we're going to share benefits of this project for our province. And we have to sit with the federal government to talk about that issue and talk about the world's best marine spill and land spill response. We can't do that by ourselves."
The premiers spent Friday talking about a pan-Canadian energy plan - an idea championed by Alberta Premier Alison Redford - before wrapping up the three-day Council of the Federation summit.
During the closing news conference, Redford, who kept a low profile at the summit, avoided speaking directly about her spat with Clark.
"There's a strong desire on the part of all provinces and territories to find a way forward on a Canadian energy strategy," she said when asked about Clark's decision to boycott the plan.
But other premiers hinted that if B.C. won't allow oil to flow through its territory, they'll look elsewhere.
"It's a big country, there's sea-to-sea-to-sea and there's lots of opportunities around the country to look at ways we can be an energy supplier to the world," Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said.
"There's an east coast, there's a northern coast, and there's domestic supply."
Redford and New Brunswick Premier David Alward both said they want to look at sending Alberta bitumen east.
Other premiers have expressed frustration with Clark's "bottom lines" for her province.
On Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale said Clark's threat to halt heavy oil pipeline development in her province could set a troubling precedent.
"I don't agree that provinces should be able to use their geographical location to hold off economic development for their sister provinces - that's not in the best interests of the country," she said.
"It means that we have to have difficult conversations, but we need to have them and we need to find resolutions that work for all of us."
Earlier this week, the BC Liberals laid out five demands that need to be met before the province would back the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project that would carry Alberta crude to Kitimat, BC, to then be shipped to Asian markets.
The demands include beefed up environmental oil spill safeguards and a greater share of the economic spinoffs of the project estimated to bring in $81 billion in tax revenues over 30 years - and came with a threat to kill the project if those demands aren't met.