Premiers’ quarrel over resource revenue threatens to scuttle pipeline – by Josh Wingrove and Jane Taber (Globe and Mail – July 24, 2012)

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Edmonton and Halifax — A standoff between premiers has left the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in peril, with Alberta Premier Alison Redford saying she won’t share any resource revenue and B.C. premier Christy Clark saying she’ll block the project without more cash.

Speaking Tuesday morning at an annual pancake breakfast at the Alberta legislature, Ms. Redford rebuffed B.C.’s day-old demand that more money – an unspecified “fair share” – be included if it’s to support the proposed $6-billion pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil to the B.C. coast for shipment to Asia.

“We will not share royalties, and I’ve seen nothing else proposed, and would not be prepared to consider anything else at this point in time,” the Alberta premier said.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she was taken aback by the comments, and repeated that Northern Gateway won’t go through without a slice of royalties. “If Alberta is not willing to even sit down and talk, then it stops here,” Ms. Clark vowed.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail in Halifax, where premiers’ meetings begin Wednesday, Ms. Clark said B.C. is assuming most of the environmental risk for very little of the cash – just eight per cent of tax revenue, according to one Calgary consultancy’s report.

The war of words isn’t “constructive,” Ms. Clark said, but she hopes it will be the start of a negotiation.

“But we’re just starting. I think she’ll have time to reconsider and think a little bit more about what next steps will be,” Ms. Clark said, adding: “This project is good for Canada. It’s great for Alberta and at the moment it’s not very good for British Columbia. If Alberta wants to see this project go ahead Alberta is going to have to sit down at the table and talk about it.”

Ms. Redford said she didn’t have enough information (B.C. hasn’t, for instance, said how much a “fair share” would be) but has said firmly she will “absolutely not” share royalties, calling it a matter of jurisdiction.

“We’re not even clear at this point in time, and that’s fine, but from my perspective I’m not going to sit back and wait for the conversation to continue to be defined without ensuring that Albertans and Canadians understand what Alberta’s position is. And that is that we’ll continue to protect the jurisdiction we have over our energy resources,” Ms. Redford said.

The pair met privately last Thursday in Edmonton, in what Ms. Clark said was a “difficult” discussion. The meeting was unannounced and saw Ms. Redford’s security detail help Ms. Clark duck out a side door to avoid reporters. The two are set to meet again as premiers gather in Halifax. Ms. Redford’s pitch for a “Canadian Energy Strategy” will be a major discussion point, one that will now surely involve her showdown over royalty sharing with B.C.

Quebec will also lead a discussion on confederation, which Ms. Redford says must include the question of resource rights.

“There’s no doubt some of the comments that we’ve heard yesterday from British Columbia will probably really bring that discussion to the floor,” Ms. Redford told reporters. She said any deal on Gateway could set a dangerous precedent.

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