Pipeline politics continue to be a major issue for British Columbians - and signs suggest the debate is coming to a head.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to line up strong arguments as to why both the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge Northern Gateway proposals are necessary for the Canadian economy.
According to the CBC, Harper and his cabinet heavyweights, including local MP and Industry Minister James Moore, are going to lay it all out next week to a bevy of local stakeholders, including B.C.'s First Nations leaders.
To date, the government has denied that it is hot to proceed with the projects meant to pump Alberta's tarsands product through B.C. en route to China. But denials that the decision of each pipeline sits firmly in the hands of the National Energy Board's (NEB) joint review panel and not the Harper government, sound extremely thin when you consider who appointed the NEB members - Stephen Harper.
Having gained little by talking tough and accusing B.C. citizens opposed to the projects of being pawns for international environmental groups, the federal government will now try it with flowers and carrots.
Cabinet ministers will sit and listen to opposing views - apparently you can't prorogue debate everywhere. The government will talk about jobs and prosperity. And while there is obvious economic benefits to selling our oil to energy-hungry Asian markets, for many British Columbians this debate is all about the end risks and costs.
We remain skeptical of this tactical shift in the face of flaring public opinion, and recall that when it came to port and water safety in the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver harbour recently, the government turned a deaf ear. At some point, they will have earned a taste of their own medicine.
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