BRITISH COLUMBIA

Clark and Redford schedule Kelowna meeting, joint news conference

06/13/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 08/13/2013 05:12 EDT
VICTORIA - The thawing of the "frosty" relationship between British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark and Alberta's Premier Alison Redford could start Friday in Kelowna.

B.C. government advisers suggest the meeting between the two premiers will highlight the many similarities between the two provinces as opposed to their few differences.

Clark and Redford are meeting for about one hour in Kelowna, hours before the premiers head to Winnipeg for the annual Western Premiers Conference that also includes Canada's territorial leaders.

The premiers met last fall in Alberta in what was described as a frosty reception by Clark.

During the meeting, Clark and Redford expressed their differences over plans by Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) to build the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from northern Alberta to northwest B.C.

Clark said the project must meet B.C.'s five environmental-focused conditions to get any chance of B.C.'s approval while Redford suggested Clark was interested in getting a larger share of the profits at Alberta's expense.

Just last month after Clark's surprising election victory, the B.C. government officially declared its opposition to Northern Gateway, telling the federal review panel the project should not go ahead as planned.

A B.C. adviser, who spoke on a background basis and did not want to be named, said a major shift on B.C.'s Enbridge position is not expected Friday.

But both premiers will acknowledge they are seeking to expand into Asia's marketplace primarily through resource exports — Alberta with oil and B.C. with liquefied natural gas.

Redford and Clark also share similar political success stories as both staged political comeback election victories after being counted out of the race by pollsters and the media.

The meeting also comes as both provinces face separate incidents involving pipeline-related spills.

In Alberta, 9,500 cubic metres of waste water was spilled June 1 at a plant on the Alberta-Northwest Territories border. In B.C., about 12 barrels of oil spilled near Merritt from a pipeline operated by Kinder Morgan.

The proposed twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver was a major point of debate during last month's B.C. election campaign that saw Clark's Liberals win a fourth consecutive mandate.

The Opposition New Democrats said they would oppose the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, saying it would turn Vancouver into a major oil exporting port, while Clark's Liberals said they would await environmental reviews of the proposal.

Clark is currently campaigning for a seat in the B.C. legislature in Kelowna's Westside-Kelowna riding, which is considered safe Liberal territory. Despite the Liberal election victory on May 14, Clark lost her own seat in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding, previously held by former Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.