Much ado about nothing

Is there much more than hot air in the interprovincial fight about pipeline?

The battle between the premiers of British Columbia and Alberta makes for a great TV drama, but it remains unclear how much substance it really contains.

Premier Christy Clark has outlined a series of conditions for her government’s approval of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, one of which is the allocation of a bigger share of the pipeline’s revenues being accrued to this province.

That proposal hit the ground with a big clang when Alberta premier Allison Redford flatly denied that was ever going to happen.

The fight has made big headlines right across the country, but really, besides the drama, what real difference is any of this going to make about whether the Northern Gateway pipeline goes ahead or not? Considering that approval or rejection of the Enbridge proposal is entirely within the purvue of the federal government, we would suggest not all that much.

That being said, it would be encouraging indeed for Clark to make a strong stand on a principle and then stick to it, regardless of electoral outcomes at a later date.

British Columbians have had more than a bellyful of politicians making grand statements of principle in the period leading up to provincial election campaigns, only to change their minds and do a 360-degree turn once the polls close and the ballots are counted.

Clark suggested there are concrete steps she could take to prevent the pipeline from being built across British Columbia, should her conditions not be met — steps such as denying permitting and access to the necessary electricity to do the job.

It sounds like a strong, principled position and one that would likely garner a lot of support among a certain segment of the B.C. electorate.

Is there more to it than hot air and puffery? That remains to be seen.            — Editorial by Neil Horner