The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
Stephen Harper is going to have to talk to the provinces about energy. And he hates that sort of thing.
In Saturday’s Globe, Premier Christy Clark succinctly outlined her key demands before the British Columbia government will support the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. Most of them are eminently reasonable: The project must clear the National Energy Board review; there must be the most stringent possible controls to prevent and mitigate spills; first nations in B.C. must benefit from the project.
The final demand, however, is the deal-breaker: “B.C. must receive its fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits,” from the pipeline. B.C. wants a piece of the action.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford made it abundantly clear at last week’s premiers’ meeting that Ms. Clark can have all the revenue she wants, so long as not one penny of it comes from Alberta’s take.
So it’s a standoff, which would be bad enough if the dispute simply concerned the two provinces. But a good chunk of Canada’s future economic growth hinges on exporting energy, with increased exports from the oil sands a crucial component of that growth. Enter the Prime Minister – that is, if he’s willing to take the cue.
For 45 years, Canadian politics was largely defined as an ongoing series of conflicts between Ottawa and the provinces: over national social programs under Lester B. Pearson; over repatriating the Constitution and Quebec separatism under Pierre Trudeau; over fixing the Constitution under Brian Mulroney; over renewed fears of separation under Jean Chrétien; over funding health care under Mr. Chretien and Paul Martin.
Enough, said Stephen Harper. His strategy as prime minister has been to leave the provinces alone. The best example is the Conservatives’ approach to health care. With the current funding formula set to expire in 2014, all 14 capitals were gearing up for months of negotiations. A source says that in the Finance Department, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office, advisers pored over the various strategies, every one of which was complicated, cumbersome and politically controversial.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/only-harper-can-end-pipeline-politicking/article4448146/