The Alberta government is looking to clear a path for the oil sands through British Columbia by upping the economic benefits for its western neighbour – including the option of paying to modernize and expand West Coast ports.
Premier Redford’s government stressed Tuesday there were no formal discussions, much less a formal proposal, but some in the Alberta government acknowledge that British Columbians need to see a tangible benefit if they are to bear the risks of an oil pipeline and associated West Coast tanker traffic headed to Asia.
I was only surprised that it took so long for this vague testing of British Columbia opinion - and we must understand that this is all part of proposing bribes to BC to overcome its fast-growing aversion to the Enbridge pipeline.
An old golfing pal of mine and I were in same meeting which was trying to get pros to come to a golf tournament our club was putting on. One of the group suggested some incentives, whereupon John Kelly said, “I stand foursquare against bribery – unless, of course, it gets the job done.”
We have just seen the beginning of a bribery process.
Premier Redford made her remarks in a speech – premiers are very careful what they say in speeches so one thing is clear: these remarks were not made just for the hell of it or off the cuff. This statement outlined vaguely what is to come.
The Harper government is in a pickle. When the PM told the Chinese that their investment in the Tar Sands (NOT the Oil Sands as the flacks want it) was safe, it didn’t seem possible that the people of BC would make a fuss about The Northern Gateway, a two way pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat.
In making his commitment, Harper has painted himself into a corner, big time. How do you tell the Chinese that environmentalists, for God’s sake, have scuppered their huge commitment?
I’ll tell you what I think has happened:
- Harper reminded Premier Photo-Op that she’s in a serious financial bind which Ottawa could be of assistance over, say, the HST money Victoria owes. It would help, Harper probably told his new pal Christy, if you would butt out of this and don’t, in the name of all that’s sacred, talk about tanker traffic in the Inner Passage and good things will happen for you.
- Harper then told Premier Redford that Ottawa and Edmonton must prepare an incentive package for BC in order to stop those radical neo-communists from making massive protests and civil disobedience.
- Harper urged Redford to put up a trial balloon such as offering money to help building quays to handle the 300 or so tankers out of Kitimat every year.
- When the Prime Minister returns from China there will be meetings in Ottawa and Edmonton where we’ll put some meat on the bones of our bribe, er, incentive package for BC.
In the next year or so, we’re going to see just what British
Columbians are made of as we get money thrown at us - serious money - in
exchange for the right to ruin our great and very rare wilderness.
That this or something like it will happen is sure. We just don’t know when and how much.
For me and The Common Sense Canadian, there isn’t enough money in the world, much less than in the country, that would compel us to sacrifice a square a millimetre of our natural heritage and environment to a pipeline.
I close with this: Prime Minister Harper, if he doesn’t back off, is asking for, to use his words, “consequences” – serious consequences.