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article imageOp-Ed: Christy Clark not endangering Canada, but getting BC's fair share

By Marcus Hondro     Jul 28, 2012 in Politics
Vancouver - With the doomsday bleatings from Alberta and Ottawa you'd think Christy Clark had taken Confederation documents and shoved them down an oil pipeline. She hasn't. Her insistence B.C. get a of share of oil royalties is just an exercise in the status quo.
Oil rich Alberta is accustomed to getting its way when it comes to their natural resources and Confederation serves that province well. There are borders and within hers Alberta has oil. Good for Alberta, getting rich while other provinces, like Newfoundland and Quebec, suffer from a lack of resources and are forever dealing with faltering economies.
Canada: Oil highlights division
But let us acknowledge that such a manner of operating speaks of a Confederation in which the luck of the resources draw is something that sees some win, others lose. It speaks of a country that doesn't say 'this belongs to all of us, we must all benefit enough to make us all prosper' but rather one that says that 'in the final analysis, each of you are on your own'. The yearly income disparity between a Newfoundlander and an Albertan illustrates the point, with the average Newfoundlander earning some $21,000 less per year than the average oil-rich Albertan.
Under such a context the scenario is simple: if you want to benefit from our land, our port, we get to benefit, too. If you want the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to cross the width of our province, a pipeline that would round the clock pump bitumen, an extremely heavy crude oil that would create even more than the usual disaster should a spill occur, then you will have to move over and make a space for us at the bargaining table.
There has been a glut of overreaction to the stance of Clark and her Liberal government. Here's a headline from the National Post: 'For Canada’s sake, Alberta must refuse Christy Clark’s pipeline demand.' Also from the Post we've had the cloying intellect of Andrew Coyne, who laid out what B.C. will get should a spill occur (it's about a partnership, not just dealing with disaster). From the CBC we've had the sentimental slosh of Rex Murphy, who whined that Clark seems distant, as if she's not speaking to a fellow province but some other, unconnected entity.
What the premier of B.C. is dong is simply laying down boundaries, ones she has been forced to set because Alberta is refusing to acknowledge a request for fairness, and any notion that she's destroying Canada, or even setting a new agenda, is nonsense. For all intents and purposes the country has always operated this way.
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Premier Clarke's stance, and her walking out of the national energy strategy negotiations, saying that the pipeline issue needs to be resolved before B.C. can partake in energy talks, is a popular one with British Colombians. Even from here in B.C. we can see how the game has historically been played in our country and we're glad to have a Premier who has finally joined the fray.
So the Alberta premier would be ill-advised to continue repeating her mantra that royalties for this venture belong to Alberta and to Alberta alone. Given that we're looking at a country that rewards the haves and largely ignores the have-nots, that's not how we see it. We see it like this: we've got a port and no oil, Alberta has oil and no port. So let's make a deal.
But don't take my word for it, let's have Christy Clark have the final say: "Alberta has to be willing to sit at the table with British Columbia and talk about how we're going to share the benefits of this project for our province."
Period and, whether Alberta or Ottawa, or anyone else, likes it - full stop.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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