Quebec Premier Jean Charest (R) jokes with BC Premier Christy Clark.
Credits: REUTERS/ANDY CLARK
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, a Liberal down in the polls, has obviously torn a page out of Quebec's playbook on wringing more cash out of the rest of Canada for short-term political gain.
It's a classic manipulation manual.
First, never say exactly what you want, or define what outcome could be construed as being fair.
Clark, for example, says her province's 8.2% share of the projected $81 billion tax revenue it will get over the next 30 years if it allows the Northern Gateway pipeline to reach its coast from the oilsands of Alberta is not fair - as in "very little reward" for "very large risks."
What's fair? She won't say.
And second, as Quebec's playbook further advises, you tell Canadians - and particularly your own provincial constituents - that you will not stoop as low as to negotiate in the media, all while you continue to negotiate in the media.
It's tried and it's true, and the fact that it goes against the very reasons our Confederation was established rarely bothered Quebec, and obviously does not bother Christy Clark if it ends up with her moribund party no longer needing life support.
Unless she gets her way - her "unspecified" way - she will use every means possible to block the pipeline's path, and to hell with the good of the rest of the Canadian federation.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, without a doubt the best provincial leader of the lot, spoke on the eve of premiers' meeting in Halifax, and called Clark's gambit a "troubling precedent."
"You can't just say, look, we only want to do this in the case of (oilsands) bitumen," he says. "What about the rail transport of other minerals? Or perhaps potentially dangerous chemicals that are manufactured in other parts of Canada and shipped across?"
Wall is absolutely correct.
Canada is a massive country. It's why the Canadian Pacific Railway was build in the early days of Confederation, and why we have a Trans-Canada Highway as a conduit for goods and services.
Are they, too, open for political extortion by any premier along their routes?
Either Clark ends her posturing, or she resigns.
She ought to know better and, right now, that alone makes her indefensible.