Gunfight in the Halifax corral.

Canada’s provincial premiers get together every year to bitch about the federal government. You hardly expect the meeting to be shanghaied by a snarling match between two western premiers.  Poor Jean Charest from Quebec, who is going to the polls next month, was almost ignored as everyone egged on Alison Redford from Alberta and Christy Clark from British Columbia. Their mud wrestling was actually in a slurry of tar sands bitumen spilling into B.C. from Alberta.

While Alison Redford won national recognition for her trouncing her Wildrose opponent in the last Alberta election, it was Christy Clark who was playing the careful political game. Faced with an election in the next year and not looking good in the polls, Clark needed the publicity to show that a) she is environmentally smart, b) was out for money to help B.C. taxpayers and c) looked good in the Premier role while she was at it.

Some people might have thought it was a slip of the tongue when Clark took the first poke at Redford. Clark appeared to be going after Alberta’s resources royalties and Redford made the mistake of responding angrily.Clark knew just where to scratch. The resource royalties are what has made Alberta the greed and isolationist capital of Canada.

Since the time when Ontario residents paid a premium for oil and gas products to support Alberta’s fledgling oil industry, this country has desperately needed a balanced national energy program. Instead, the federal government has used transfer payments to the have-not provinces to try to balance the economy. And the long-reigning Alberta Conservatives have built their dynasty on the fiction of provincial rights to resources.

By the time cooler heads prevailed in Halifax, Redford had fallen squarely into Clark’s trap. B.C. voters were bound to be fully behind Clark’s mildly stated case for protection from catastrophe if the Northern Gateway Pipeline was to go through B.C. She made the point very well that if B.C. was going to take all the risks for the pipeline, then why should the province not share in the profits. By the end of the conference, Redford had to explain that if B.C. wants to get more money from pipeline builder Enbridge, that was quite alright with her. Just do not think of touching Alberta’s royalties.

It looks like the lovely Premier of B.C., Christy Clark, went home with a smile.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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