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LUNENBURG, N.S – British Columbia Premier Christy Clark opened another front in her demand for a “fair share” of benefits from the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, calling on the Harper government to sit down at the negotiating table along with Alberta.
Ms. Clark laid out the new terms as Canada’s premiers met with aboriginal leaders in the historic fishing town of Lunenburg ahead of the annual Council of the Federation meetings, which begins Thursday in Halifax. “My basic request is for Alberta and Canada to come to the table and sit down and figure out how we can resolve this,” she told reporters after the meeting.
But the province’s push for a greater slice of oil-sands prosperity comes as the sector’s prospects dim. Suncor Energy Inc. is backing away from its plans to produce a million barrels of oil a day by 2020, amid growing concerns from investors about the profit outlook for the oil sands. The Calgary-based giant’s hesitation stands in contrast to a bold play by China’s state-controlled CNOOC, which this week proposed a $15-billion takeover of oil and gas producer Nexen Inc.
Ms. Clark repeated her vow that she would scuttle the proposed $6-billion project – which would take heavy oil from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., and then on to Asia – if her province does not get its “fair share” of revenues for shouldering the environmental risk.
Ms. Clark has not defined “fair share” in dollars, but has noted that while British Columbia will see little in return for the risk it is taking, “the federal government and Alberta are going to see billions in other tax revenue.”
By including Ottawa, Ms. Clark is essentially asking whether there is a role for the federal government in ensuring that all provinces benefit from Canada’s resource development, commensurate with the risk they take on.
Ottawa says resource revenues are a provincial responsibility, while offering federal assurance that any pipeline will be environmentally safe. “We will continue working with each province to assure Canada’s long-term prosperity,” said Andrew MacDougall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications.
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