Premiers group marks truce

British Columbia and Alberta resource group formed

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have collaborated to appoint a resource export market working group.

In establishing the working group, the premiers identified a shared goal of opening new markets and expanding export opportunities for oil, gas and other resources.

It will be led by the two top energy officials from each province to develop recommendations to grow energy exports and open new export markets, and present them to the premiers later this year.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she thinks the premiers’ co-operative plan is a “good step forward.”

“Canada is an energy exporter in many ways. The more we can work together to benefit all of us, I think the better off we are.”

She adds unless the provinces collaborate, they won’t accomplish their goals in the end and bring new revenue streams to Western Canada.

“It is extremely important to expand markets for our energy and our resource industries. That’s what has built the country and the province.”

Behind the working group scheme, however, is a move to improve a strained relationship between the country’s two westernmost premiers, as well as toward more resource development.

Clark stated as much to media when she and Redford announced the working group at the conclusion of the Council of the Federation meeting at Niagara-on-the-Lake on July 26.

Clark and Redford have “bumped heads” on several occasions over resource issues, most notably Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project proposed to run crude oil (bitumen) through B.C. from the Alberta border to Kitimat.

Says Barnett: “I find this a good start to mending fences. But, I do know the premier is not going to go off her stance on the Enbridge ‘five commitments’.

“Now, we’ll have to wait and see the report these staff members are going to provide us with, and hopefully there are some positive recommendations in there that help both provinces.”