The three candidates for leader of the PC party of Alberta are calling the conditional approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline needed and a step in the right direction.
Former minister of Infrastructure Ric McIver said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source, that approval of the pipeline is much needed, and if elected, he will request a meeting with B.C. Premier Christy Clark to help move this file forward in a more timely fashion.
“My first plan would be to sit down with the premier of British Columbia and to not do that would be disrespectful,” said McIver. “Alberta and B.C. will neighbours forever, and manners in a working relationship are kind of important.
“I would also find out what the premier thinks is lay of the land, and get advice from the B.C. government and officials who have been working with the Northern Gateway Pipeline file here in Alberta as well.”
With the conditional approval, McIver said that he can’t be 100 per cent sure on when the shovel will be in the ground to start construction on the pipeline that would bring oil from a town just north of Edmonton, to the B.C. coast.
“Alberta doesn’t have the final approval on it, but I can tell you as premier it would a very high priority of mine to make sure that our government is working in every way possible to facilitate this agreement, and make sure that the agreement is in the best interest of everyone involved,” said McIver.
In the past, McIver has negotiated difficult agreements and is prepared to do the hard work to ensure the pipeline moves forward.
“I think that having signed some difficult negotiated agreements myself, including the ring road in Calgary, I know that you don’t get the agreement signed if you don’t have the interests of everyone involved,” he said. “I really believe that getting those interests will be the key to success for this file.”
When the approval of the pipeline was announced by the federal government, some First Nations communities in B.C. announced they were going to file a lawsuit with the federal courts.
Former federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister Jim Prentice said that his track record with First Nations communities can help bridge the gap between First Nations and get the pipeline moving.
“Let me be clear with my own track record. I have been working on first nation issues in my professional life I was not only the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development ,but also the Canadian chair of the Native Affairs Commission for a number of year,” said Prentice
“I also negotiated the only modern land claim settlements in British Columbia in the past 10 years. My track record is clear and my track record of working with coastal First Nations is clear.”
Because of that Prentice believes is the Northern Gateway Pipeline doesn’t move forward it could be the biggest economic issue facing the province in years.
“My view is that this is the biggest economic issue facing the province of Alberta because if we do not get west coast access, we do not get global prices,” he said. “So whoever is in the chair of the premier they’re going to have to be able to strike partnership agreements with British Columbia and with First Nations of the coast. I believe that my record speaks for itself.”
Former deputy premier Thomas Lukazsuk said that he has worked on market access files during his time in provincial office.
“When I look at negotiations that have taken place in the past, some successfully and some not, and when I look at Enbridge and their negotiations on this file, I have come to the conclusion that our approach when negotiating with aboriginal communities is that there have been some flaws in the negotiations,” he said.
“The usual question that is being asked of aboriginal communities is how much will it cost me to get this pipeline, the railline, or whatever it might be through your reserve.”
Following negotiations, both parties usually land on a approximate number, Lukaszuk said.
“After that number is reached, usually a cheque is cut and a ring road in Calgary is built or a pipeline is constructed.”
Lukaszuk said the government, and particularly the premier of a province, has to make sure a project on the scale of the Northern Gateway Pipeline has the fiduciary value for all partners the project will effect.
Like McIver, Lukaszuk said that he would be thrilled to meet again with Clark in a first order of business.
“I would take discussions further and see how Alberta and B.C. can bring young people into the jobs that we know are being created in both of the provinces, because of this pipeline,” he said.