Alberta Premier Alison Redford and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said in a surprise announcement this morning that they have reached a framework agreement between the two provinces on moving energy resources to new markets.
According to a statement released Tuesday morning:
- Alberta has agreed to accept B.C.'s five conditions for pipeline approval.
- B.C. has agreed to sign the Alberta Energy Strategy.
- Alberta agrees that B.C. has a right to negotiate with industry on appropriate economic benefits.
- Both governments agree it is not for the governments of Alberta and B.C. to negotiate these benefits.
- Both provinces reaffirmed that Alberta's royalties are not on the table for negotiation.
The deal does not appear to endorse any particular pipeline or energy export project. Instead, it lays out the terms under which a future project would be negotiated.
"Agreement on B.C.'s five conditions is a necessary first step before any proposals can be considered for approval," said Clark in the statement from her office.
"It is the way we do business in B.C. and it works. By working together with Alberta through these principles, we can grow our economies and strengthen Canada's economy overall."
The framework will also see the B.C. government endorse Redford's energy strategy.
"A key part of our Building Alberta Plan is getting Alberta's resources to new markets at much fairer prices so we can keep funding the programs Albertans told us matter most to them," said Redford in the statement.
"Today's agreement with B.C. is good news for Alberta, for British Columbia and for all Canadians. I welcome Premier Clark's endorsement of the Canadian Energy Strategy and our shared commitment to create jobs, long-term growth and position Canada as a true global energy superpower. We look forward to continued constructive dialogue with B.C."
The agreement comes as a surprise, after a meeting scheduled for Tuesday between the two premiers was suddenly cancelled by them on Monday night.
Clark and Redford were originally scheduled to discuss the progress of a joint energy export plan Tuesday in Vancouver, following the Alberta premier's address to the city's Board of Trade.
The meeting was supposed to be the next step in healing the B.C.-Alberta pipeline rift, which had appeared to be healing this summer when the two appeared in public sharing takeout coffee and looking friendly and relaxed.
Then on Monday night, there appeared to be a major setback for the talks. Both provinces said behind-the-scenes talks haven't made enough progress to warrant Clark and Redford meeting in person again.
Redford said in a news release late Monday that there is still work to be done.
Then just before 11 a.m., both premiers offices confirmed the meeting would go ahead at that time, and the joint statement was released.
Frosty relationship history
The relationship between the two premiers has been tense since last year, when Clark described Redford as "frosty" after the two met to discuss Clark's concerns about the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.
At the heart of the dispute is B.C.'s demand for a fair share of the benefits from any new pipeline project that passes through the province.
Public backlash over the proposed pipeline prompted Clark to put in place five conditions that had to be met before any new pipeline would be approved.
Clark says B.C. would be assuming the majority of the environmental risk and should be compensated.
B.C. insisted that the Northern Gateway project meet several conditions, including strict environmental standards and assurances B.C. would receive a fair share of the economic benefits.
When the two met this summer in Kelowna, it appeared the feud was ebbing as both Clark and Redford said they had identified shared goals like opening new markets and expanding export opportunities for oil, gas and other resources.