05/15/2013 02:56 EDT | Updated 05/15/2013 04:46 EDT

B.C. Elections 2013: Alison Redford Praises Christy Clark, Calls For Cooperation


The sense of relief was palpable in the congratulatory remarks Alberta Premier Alison Redford sent B.C. Premier Christy Clark on the night of her election win.

Clark's Liberals surpassed all expectations and won a resounding victory over the front-running NDP, a victory that for Alberta means there is still a chance several oilsands pipeline projects through B.C. will get the go-ahead.

“Our provinces’ proud history of co-operation has led to economic growth, job creation and an unparalleled quality of life for the people who live within our borders," said Redford.

"I’m so proud of our shared history. For example, our groundbreaking trade and labour mobility agreement has proven to North America that eliminating trade barriers can have tremendous economic and social benefits."

Both the B.C. NDP and Greens had effectively closed the door on Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline project through northern B.C. to the coastal town of Kitimat, and expressed discontent towards the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, the twinning of an existing pipeline through southern B.C. out to the port of Vancouver.

The B.C. Liberals have shown no opposition to the Kinder Morgan expansion and although Clark and Redford have butted heads over Northern Gateway, the B.C. premier has not opposed the project, only questioning what benefits B.C. will get from it.

Pipelines have become a cornerstone of Redford's shaky reign so far, as she has tied her fortunes, to a great degree, to the health and well-being of the oilsands.

The Alberta provincial budget this spring went against what many Albertans felt was contradictory to provincial political dogma and tabled a massive, $6-billion deficit.

It wasn't bad planning or poor management that led the province to table such a document, said the Tories, but what Redford coined the "Bitumen Bubble," the result of a dramatic and, what the Alberta PCs referred to as, unanticipated drop in the amount of cash the province was able to take in in the form of taxes and revenue from oilsands production, due to the deep discount price of Western Canadian Select compared to Western Texas Intermediate.

By exporting the bitumen to markets in Asia through B.C. ports, the province and oilsands companies believe they can shrink that differential, while increasing demand for their products.

Oilsands operators have also voiced concerns about the fact that although they are able to increase production in the northern Alberta mines, it makes no sense to do so now because existing pipelines can't handle the increased capacity.

Some of the bitumen being produced now is heading out to market via rail.

Although Redford didn't actually touch the subject, the innuendos were aplenty.

“I know we can do more together. As Canada moves to seize new opportunities and open new global markets, I look forward to renewing discussions with British Columbia about the issues that affect our provinces," said Redford.

"We need to keep working together on initiatives that will improve the quality of life for the people living within our borders and ensure we’re doing everything we can to strengthen Canada for future generations."

But pipeline projects have fallen out of favour in much of B.C., with environmentalists and First Nations standing firm against Northern Gateway from the proposal's genesis and opposition against Kinder Morgan gaining momentum.

Oil leaks are the main concern, with environmental groups saying the Northern Gateway route pushes through several eco-sensitive areas before reaching Kitimat. But concerns only escalate there, as the bitumen would then be put into oil tankers that will have to, according to those opposing the project, navigate dangerous and sensitive coastal straights.

The election night victory also means the two parties on either side of the continental divide will continue what is a fairly amicable working relationship.

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Despite their historically divisive names, the B.C. Liberals and the Alberta Tories have more in common politically than their names would suggest. Alberta politicos even played a limited role in helping Clark's team get re-elected.

B.C. Liberal politicians and candidates attended a $125-a-plate dinner in Calgary in January to raise funds for re-election efforts in the neighbouring province.

Ironically, Redford won her battle at the polls during the last Alberta provincial election in a very similar manner to Clark's Tuesday night's win.

The best case scenario for the Tories going into the polls was a minority government, while most pollsters predicted a majority government for the Wildrose Party and the PCs next to annihilated in that political contest.

Instead, Redford won a majority government.