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Campaign looks like a referendum on oil marketing strategies vital to the Alberta economy.
CALGARY—Never has more been at stake for Alberta in a B.C. provincial election than now. Viewed from Calgary, the campaign looks like a referendum on the oil marketing strategies that both the Alberta and federal governments — and the energy industry — have been banking on for years.
So this time it really matters for Alberta which party — the Liberals or the NDP — emerges victorious.
Alberta is landlocked; it needs access to B.C.’s ports and coastline if the oil it produces is to get to markets other than the U.S.
But while various pipelines transporting oil and other fuels from Alberta have criss-crossed B.C. for more than 60 years, proposals for new or expanded pipelines have become potent symbols for Liberal Leader (and current premier) Christy Clark and NDP Leader Adrian Dix as they lay out their visions for the future of the province.
Both leaders have said no to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline that would reach from northern Alberta across the wilds of northern B.C. to Kitimat so diluted bitumen from the oilsands can be funneled onto tankers and shipped to China and other emerging markets.
Clark’s opposition is not as firm as Dix’s in that she would give the project the green light if five conditions were met. Her key demand is that B.C. receive a “fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” commensurate with the risk to B.C. of leaks and spills.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has already nixed that idea. But Clark’s demand is vague enough that she could eventually settle the question of benefits to B.C. after the election.
Dix, on the other hand, is firmly opposed to Northern Gateway. He has pledged that within a week of being elected premier he will rescind B.C.’s agreement with the federal government for environmental assessment of the pipeline and undertake a made-in-B.C. assessment.
And just last week Dix announced he was having second thoughts about the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Kinder Morgan that would triple the amount of crude oil and fuels shipped from Alberta to tankers in Vancouver’s port.
“We have to wait to see the formal application, but I don’t think that the port of Metro Vancouver . . . should become a major oil export port,” Dix said.
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