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The come-from-behind victory of Christy Clark’s Liberals in Tuesday’s British Columbia election comes as a big relief to those involved in Western Canada’s energy-based economy, but the close call must serve as an impetus to find a fairer way to share the risks and benefits of development.
Alberta has to lead the way. Its proposed oil pipelines through B.C. became one of the major flashpoints in the campaign leading to the vote, fuelling extreme views by the provincial NDP against the projects based on pressure from environmentalists that in the end contributed to the party’s spectacular flameout.
Perhaps recognizing the need for a fresh start, Premier Alison Redford on Wednesday talked about co-operation in a congratulatory message to Ms. Clark — a stark contrast to the cool relationship she has had with the B.C. premier over the past year because of differences over the pipelines’ risks and rewards.
“I know we can do more together,” Ms. Redford said in a statement distributed shortly after 3:30 a.m., hours after British Columbians defied pollsters and stunned pundits to re-elect the Liberals for a fourth term.
“As Canada moves to seize new opportunities and open new global markets, I look forward to renewing discussions with British Columbia about the issues that affect our provinces. We need to keep working together on initiatives that will improve the quality of life for the people living within our borders and ensure we’re doing everything we can to strengthen Canada for future generations.”
Industry and other governments, from Regina to Ottawa, that also stand to gain from the opening of a new market for Canadian oil in Asia must also step up to ensure British Columbians truly benefit from Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, and that all hands are on deck if an oil spill occurs.
While the B.C. Liberals are back with a solid majority, it would be a mistake to assume it means clear sailing for the projects. Ms. Clark did not defend them in her campaign. On the contrary, she said B.C.’s economy doesn’t need them, and that B.C. has a bright future of its own as a new world supplier of liquefied natural gas.
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