As a news reporter in Sicamous, the opportunity to chat face to face with a B.C. premier is rare indeed.
When my mom learned I’d be meeting with Christy Clark on Monday, she seemed impressed – proud in fact. And perhaps a bit opportunistic, for she was quick to ask that I relay a question to the premier on her behalf. Well, more of a request really.
My mom asked me to ask the premier to consider putting the Enbridge pipeline question to a public referendum. She didn’t say if she was for or against.
While I know my mom, a Vancouverite, to casually follow local and provincial politics, I was kind of surprised by this request. But then, headlines involving Enbridge haven’t exactly been reassuring as of late. In fact, this pipeline proposal is something every British Columbian should be interested in, if not concerned about. The company’s most recent promises to the B.C. government, to beef up security and use extra-thick pipe for sections of the proposed Northern Gateway project that cross water, was quickly eclipsed by news of another Enbridge pipeline leak in Wisconsin, where an estimated 1,000 barrels were lost. This prompted U.S. Representative Ed Markey to comment that Enbridge is to the Midwest what BP was to the Gulf of Mexico.
Clark, meanwhile, has been making headlines of her own on the Enbridge issue. She recently ruffled feathers in the Alberta government by insisting that a list of conditions must be met before the B.C. government would consider allowing Enbridge to run its pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat.
While she was well-prepared for my questions about Sicamous and the province’s response to the community’s concerns relating to the recent flooding, Clark seemed surprised, albeit pleasantly, when I explained and presented my mom’s request. After some thought, she explained the B.C. government is still gathering information and would have to make sure that everyone is completely informed before there would be any consideration of going to referendum.
“We don’t have enough information about what the whole proposal will look like,” said Clark. “Enbridge changed it two weeks ago, so we don’t even know what the pipeline proposal is going to look like. The federal government’s spill response is not up to snuff yet, so there’s a ton of work that would need to be done before we got there. But I have a feeling I know where British Columbians are on this. They say protect our government, get our fair share. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Clark called the referendum an “interesting idea,” and told me to tell my mom she would think about it a little further down the road.
I have yet to share this information with my mom (we talk by phone every Sunday morning), but I’m sure she will be pleased the premier was willing to answer her question.
Just knowing you’ve been heard can mean a lot.
As for Clark’s response, I’ll have to see how that goes over.