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With the British Columbia Liberals back in power — thanks in part to the implosion of the opposition NDP over its hard line against heavy oil pipelines — Canada’s three Western provinces are working on a renewed push to make the proposed Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline projects work.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are planning to meet as part of their New West Partnership to discuss the projects, including how to make them more economically relevant to British Columbia.
The inclusion of Premier Wall should help lighten up the cool relationship between the Alberta and British Columbia premiers. Like Alberta, Saskatchewan is an oil producing province that has been hard hit by Canadian oil-price discounts. A vocal supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, Mr. Wall has been less involved in the West Coast debate.
On Wednesday, during a visit to Alberta that included a stop in Calgary and one in the oil sands, Terry Lake, B.C.’s environment minister, said the premiers’ meeting will happen “shortly” and B.C. has left open “a pathway to yes” to the projects. It involves meeting the five requirements he laid out last July.
“We have taken a principled approach and said, ‘the bar is set very high,’ but we charted a course that proponents like Kinder Morgan understand and have said that they are prepared to work with,” he said in an interview after addressing a pipeline safety conference organized by the Canadian Institute.
“It’s not going to be easy work. It’s challenging. The premier knows that our economic development is around liquefied natural gas. We don’t want to be distracted from that. But at the same time we understand that we are Canadian partners and that there are financial benefits, economic benefits to British Columbia to move forward with heavy oil, but there is a huge concern on the part of British Columbians about the risk associated with that.”
Today’s open mindedness is in sharp contrast to the B.C. Liberals’ election campaign rhetoric just three weeks ago.
Premier Clark distanced herself from proposed oil sands pipelines in the final days of the campaign, saying her province doesn’t need them and would rather focus on its LNG plans. Her comments came after Adrian Dix, leader of the NDP, said he was opposed to both Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion.
Mr. Dix’s large lead in the polls started to shrink and the Liberals, who stuck with an economic growth message, were returned to power on May 14 with an even greater majority. Mr. Lake said Mr. Dix’s stance on Kinder Morgan was “a seminal moment in the campaign.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/05/29/western-premiers-renewing-push-for-northern-gateway-trans-mountain-pipelines/?__lsa=31f1-f1e6