Christy Clark, Stockwell Day, and the Northern Gateway pipeline

Normally, politics takes a hiatus in the summer as MPs and MLAs retreat to the barbecue circuit to firm up support in their constituencies.


Who would you prefer as B.C.'s premier?

Christy Clark 48%
725 votes
John Cummins 2%
30 votes
Stockwell Day 5%
73 votes
Adrian Dix 43%
660 votes
Jane Sterk 2%
38 votes

But with a B.C. election scheduled for next May, it's been anything but quiet on the provincial scene.

Premier Christy Clark's surprising about-face on the Enbridge pipeline has raised the stakes not only for the corporate power brokers who always had their way during the Gordon Campbell era, but also for the provincial NDP.

Cynics might look upon Clark's five demands, including a fair share of the revenue, and threats to scuttle the proposed Enbridge pipeline as political posturing.

The conventional wisdom is that the premier wants the pipeline to proceed, but only after B.C. gets a little more money from Alberta to demonstrate that she has some clout.

But what if Clark has already concluded that she's finished as premier because the right wingers at the Fraser Institute and in the Conservative party have decided that she has to go before the next election?

Then, she's got nothing to lose by spurning those who've traditionally had a heavy influence on the party, such as Independent Contractors and Businesses Association present Phil Hochstein and the Fraser Institute's chairman, Peter Brown.

If they've already decided that Clark can't take the free-enterprise coalition across the finish line next spring, she's at liberty to do whatever she likes to save her political career—including killing the Enbridge proposal.

And if Clark can't be trusted to ensure that the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway Project gets built before the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. gets approved, this won't go over well with Enbridge's financiers, including CIBC, which has former federal Conservative environment minister Jim Prentice on its board.

The Fraser Institute recently published a paper concluding that if Canadian oil producers had access to the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region (i.e. through the proposed Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines), that would "secure the best possible return on their investment".

The right-wing think tank concluded that building this infrastructure could add $10.5 billion to the gross domestic product.

Of course, there was no mention in the news release about the impact that higher domestic oil prices resulting from these pipelines would have on Canadian consumers. For that, you have to read reports by economist Robyn Allan, who has concluded that the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines will harm the Canadian economy.

The backdrop to this is that the Liberal MP who represents Vancouver Quadra, Joyce Murray, happens to be fond of quoting Allan's analysis. And Murray's riding includes most of Vancouver–Point Grey, which is represented by Clark in the legislature.

What about Stockwell Day?

From my vantage point, this is looking like a potential showdown between Clark and the extreme right wingers.

This fall, the B.C. Liberals will hold a convention—and a committee may recommend a new name for the party. That could easily lead to a leadership race to choose someone to head this rebranded right-wing entity.

Brown and another Fraser Institute director, Future Shop founder Hassan Khosrowshahi, are on very good terms with former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day.

If there is a leadership contest, I bet that Day will be trotted out as the ideal candidate to unite the right and defeat the B.C. NDP. That's because he's not tainted with the B.C. Liberal brand, unlike another darling of the right, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon.

If Clark is thinking along the same lines, it makes perfect sense that she would bang the drum against the Enbridge pipeline. That's because this will attract the support of so-called Green Liberals, who could save her job as leader.

Day has some obvious advantages for the downtown business crowd. He would neutralize John Cummins and the B.C. Conservatives, because nobody can question Day's blue credentials.

Day is also an able debater, presents an upbeat image, and has broad appeal to social conservatives, who have abandoned the B.C. Liberals in droves. He would be a formidable opponent to NDP Leader Adrian Dix, especially if the right compared their experience in government.

After choosing not to run in the 2011 federal election, Day is somewhat under-employed, hanging his hat as a "senior strategic adviser" at the law firm McMillan, serving as a director of Telus, and running his own consulting firm.

Brown recently wrote a letter to B.C. Conservative directors telling them that they're playing a dangerous game by dividing the vote on the right. Perhaps this was his way of softening them up for a bid by Day to become B.C.'s next premier.

Day's history could create problems for the right

Day has already won nine elections in two provinces. But he has a huge vulnerability, which Clark would undoubtedly exploit. And that is his history as an Alberta Pentecostal pastor and administrator of a private Christian school.

According to Marci McDonald's 2010 book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, this school used "science texts based on biblical literalism, featuring lyrical expositions of creationism and no mention of evolution".

"God's law is clear," Day said at the time, according to McDonald's book. "Standards of education are not set by government, but by God, the Bible, the home and the school."

You can imagine how the NDP's Dix could exploit this on the campaign trail, particularly when dealing with voters of other faiths.

McDonald reports that after being elected, Day tried to stop public funding of abortion and attempted to exempt gays and lesbians from protection under Alberta's human-rights legislation.

The Armageddon Factor also points out that Day is part of a Kelowna-based Christian group called Watchmen for the Nations. It was founded by former pastor Bob Birch as a reaction to Vancouver hosting the Gay Games in 1990.

Day eventually became leader of the Canadian Alliance. He lost the 2000 election to Jean Chrétien after Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella played up Day's social conservatism. By 2002, Day had been replaced as party leader by Stephen Harper and went on to become minister of public safety and international trade, before ending his federal career as president of the treasury board.

Day has given no public indication that he wants to get back into the political fray. But he has been spotted at dinners attended by Brown and Khosrowshahi. And these Fraser Institute directors could trust Day to ensure that their cherished Northern Gateway Project would get provincial backing in B.C..

Right now, that's not the case with Clark at the helm, particularly if she's feeling cornered by federal Conservatives in her party.

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Comments (12) Add New Comment
judi sommer
Apparently there will be no leadership review in the fall convention, but in politics,anything can happen between then and the date of the election.
Rating: -1
Charlie Smith
Judi Sommer,

Have you considered the possibility that the B.C. Liberal executive decision to "avoid the hassle of a leadership review" was an attempt to forestall what is outlined in the article above? If the party gets a new name as an initiative to bring B.C. Conservatives onside, it's quite plausible that this will be accompanied by a leadership race.

Peter Brown knows the NDP will win with the Liberals and Conservatives divided. They won't come together under Christy Clark. For proof, read the BC Blue blog. That means a Conservative would have to be installed as the right-of-centre coalition leader to have any hope of stopping the NDP.

Charlie Smith
Rating: +2
judi sommer
Hi Charlie, I agree that there may be a lot going on behind the scenes.They have said tha tas she was recently elected, no one is calling for a review.If someone manages to force the issue on principle and her numbers are embarrasingly low (what % that would be, I don't know) would they draw out their knives and very publically do what the senators did to Caesar?Would they survive a family feud in time to get their ducks in a row?Would they not risk the perception that the Liberals want power at any price? Re: "Stock" I am still shuddering at the memory of him in a wetsuit and on a water skidoo. As well, he is so linked to the Reform arm of Harper's government, Harper whose support in BC is slipping after the closing of the Coast Guard Station in Vancouver and the mess and ham-fisted omnibus budget bill.
Rating: 0
Got to be desperate to give Day a crack at losing here.
Rating: -3
right of center ? that center in not centered at all , call it what it is corporate greed or civil rights / leverage or balance , there is no right and left anymore
Rating: 0
Zen Cat
i'm banking on Jim Prentice to stop the deal. this deal needs to be killed before it kills us.
Rating: +4
Martin Dunphy
Stockwell Day thinks dinosaurs roamed the Fraser River delta while First Nations harvested salmon a few thousand years ago.

That is the only--and I mean the ONLY--thing anyone needs consider if his name ever comes up for consideration again concerning a run for public office of any kind.
Rating: +3
judi sommer
I find the results of your straw poll bizarre. What has Ms Clark just done to make her popularity rocket past Dix? Are people buying her latest stunt? Most polls show her still behind so I suspect Liberal supporters are out in force for the Straight poll. If not, there has been a political eathquake not recognized by most pundits,
Rating: +4
Daniel Z.
Other than the New Democrats, the likelihood of any political party forming government in May, 2013 is minuscule.

There was an article in this newspaper last week suggesting that the Conservatives will resist any measures to merge with the Liberals in a coalition ahead of the 2013 election.

The public will see through any efforts that result in the reorganization of the Liberals into a newly created right-wing party. Simply because this political party will rely on the participation of several notable former Liberals. Moreover, this political party will receive the brunt of NDP attacks that are currently reserved for the Liberals.

The situation described above is plausible. But not until after the 2013 election. And frankly, the right-wing is aware that the NDP has shed its socialist leanings on many issues, notably economic and fiscal ones. Aside from a tax increase to pay for an increased provision of services, there isn't anything to fear in an NDP government in 2013.

Rating: -1
Pat Crowe
Charlie. Why don't you and the crew down at the Straight form a new centrist party?
You'll lose certain minorities if you stick to the "Straight" name so something fresh, like...?
The B.C no B.S. Party. Shoot the platform right down the middle between labour and business.
Throw the electorate a bone right off the top by implementing a new provincial, annual holiday. I dunno...Liquor day or something else that can't fail. Do it, Charlie. You'll win.
Rating: +1
Since the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals work for Harper, they will not get back into power. The BC Conservatives support Harper and the Enbridge pipeline. All of them, are one and the same party. Boessenkool, another of Harper's henchmen, was placed in with the BC Liberals. Boessenkool works for Harper and lobbies for Enbridge. Harper rewarded Gordon Campbell, for doing his dirty work for him.

It will be the day, BC will assist Communist China, in the takeover of the tar sands. The BC people, did not ask Premier Redford for her precious money, Christy Clark did. We are more than happy, if Premier Redford keeps her precious money and, the dirty lethal, chemical laced Bitumen all for herself. Especially now. Enbridge just had ANOTHER, pipe burst spill in Wisconsin on Friday.

Communist China is showing aggression around the globe. They have taken another step, in their aggression of the Philippines. They took a city on a Philippine Island. What China is really after, is another tiny Philippines Island, rich in resources. The U.S. is in a stand off with China. They are trying to help the Philippines, to save their resources from Communist China's aggression. China hacked into other country's secret files. Communist China also sold infected electronic components to country's. The U.S. missiles and other weapons, had infected components in them, that were purchased from China

The BC citizens have had enough thieved from them, by both Harper and his partner in crime, Gordon Campbell.

Harper, Enbridge, Communist China and Premier Redford, can all go to hell. BC owes the entire scurvy lot of them, squat.
Rating: +1
65 billion barrels of oil
Coming to your neck of the woods, be it shipped by tankers or pipelines it is all reletive to the fact - either way spills are going to happen and the more tankers and pipelines just up the chance.
Rating: -2
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