BC Premier Christy Clark on resource development and foreign money flowing to Canadian green groups

- December 21st, 2011

BCLocalNews.com published yesterday a year-end interview Tom Fletcher did with British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. Here’s some excerpts, in which Clark stays on the sidelines of the debate on a Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific but frowns on U.S. groups mobilizing and funding Canadians:

TF: A related subject is something you were talking about in Edmonton [Dec. 13 meeting with Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall], the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline. There’s a lot of aboriginal opposition to that. The federal Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, not too long ago called this a “nation building project.” It certainly fits with your jobs strategy. Do you support the concept of the pipeline?

PCC: First of all, we are foursquare behind the concept and soon to be reality of the liquefied natural gas pipelines, which would take B.C. gas and get it to the port at Kitimat. There is pretty much unanimous First Nations support along the way, community support, through the environmental approval process, it’s all working.

The Enbridge proposal is far from that. So I recognize that it is a benefit to Canada, there’s no question about it. Being able to get triple the price for Canadian oil would be a big benefit for Canada overall. But the project is one where we have to examine both the costs and benefits. And I don’t think we have a good bead on what the benefits or the costs could potentially be. That’s why it’s in the environmental approval process. This is the first of its kind, so I think we have to get a good look at it, and once we have the facts before us, we can have a debate about whether it should go ahead.

TF: It sounds like there may have been a lesson learned from your advocacy of the Prosperity gold mine near Williams Lake. Maybe there’s a time to push for things and a time not to. Is that fair to say?

PCC: I think they are very different. In the case of the Prosperity mine, the company and the First Nations are at odds. And government has been working hard to try to help them find a way to make the project work for both communities, recognizing that a mine project of that size could have tremendous benefits for First Nations and non-First Nations in a region that has been devastated by the pine beetle.

But the Enbridge pipeline is a different proposal. British Columbians need to understand that there are big benefits for our province, which I think we’re still waiting to hear about, and that all of the potential costs of it would be managed.

On the Prosperity mine, the issue for me at the beginning was that it took 17 years for it to get in and out of the [federal and provincial] environmental approval process. That’s ridiculous. Say yes, say no, don’t take 17 years and then say both. So I think the lesson to be learned in that is that we do need one project, one process for environmental approvals.

TF: Something the pipeline and mine project have in common, I was just given some information about one of these U.S. charitable foundations specifically targeting a grant to oppose the Prosperity mine. There’s a stack of them, U.S. money coming in large amounts to organize aboriginal people against the oil pipeline. Are you concerned about that, do you think this opposition is really grassroots, or that there really is influence from the U.S.?

PCC: I don’t think Canadians welcome American-style politics. And so whether it’s American politicians or American interest groups, they all to American-style politics. And I don’t think anyone wants to welcome that in British Columbia. And I think for First Nations communities, what we are seeing increasingly are examples of tremendous success, when First Nations are a recognized and legitimate partner in economic development.

Ellis Ross, who’s the Chief Councillor of the Haisla, says ‘We’re going to have too many jobs. That’s going to be our biggest problem up here as a result of the LNG project.’ They found a way to be a partner in that economic development, and so for First Nations around the province who are seeing this tremendous success, I just don’t think those American environmental groups are going to have much luck with those folks. Because they understand that they have a really big stake in economic development. And this idea that foreigners should come into Canada and try to stop economic development when they aren’t going to be the losers or the winners on either end of it, I don’t think Canadians want that. Let’s make our own decisions for heaven’s sake.

via BCLocalNews.com – Premier Clark on her political year.

Categories: Aboriginal Affairs, Energy, Environment

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1 comment

  1. anthony says:

    As far as the Northern Gateway pipeline is concerned I hope the economic argument will prevail in the end. Everyone knows that the project will give our economy the boost it needs right now. And if we don’t avail ourselves of the opportunity that is out there other countries will make a profit instead of us. Do you think that similar protests in China would persuade the Chinese government to refuse it? A recent study conducted by the University of Calgary reveals that if pipeline capacity existed to take full advantage of the oilsands, Canada’s economy would see a $131 billion boost between 2016 and 2030. This is quite a promising prospect on the way to the economic recovery given the fact that the energy sector in Canada has recently been on the rise.

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