a summit so secret if you knew what they’d talked about, they’d have to kill you

July 25th, 2012

(Premiers’ private parley) – Published on rabble.ca (first on Alberta Diary.ca), by DAVID J. CLIMENHAGA, JULY 23, 2012.

… Secret diplomacy is generally held nowadays in polite circles to be a poor idea, but seeing as Western Canadian provinces are not sovereign states – no matter the dreams of those fellows in their broken-down and bumper-stickered camo pickup trucks – it’s probably just a venial sin, diplomatically speaking … //  

… Observers less committed to the pipeline than Redford may perhaps feel a teensy bit of sympathy with Clark.

After all, her polls say she is likely to be run out of town by voters who despise the pipeline plan. They can do this because there is a political party in B.C. apparently committed to doing the will of the population.

This is quite different from the situation faced by Redford before her April 23 election, in which the polls suggested she was about to be defeated by a group of voters upset she wasn’t doing enough for the same pipeline, abetted by a party determined to build pipelines to all points of the compass!

Redford has proved to be a shrewd politician, so she must understand how sharp are the horns of the dilemma on which Clark finds herself uncomfortably perched. Clark can do what her voters want and possibly save enough votes to survive, but only by incurring the wrath of the folks who pay the freight!

So we can guess that during their private parley Clark begged Redford to shut the heck up about the pipeline because, if the Alberta premier wouldn’t, it would likely sink her leaky B.C. Liberal ship! By the sound of it, she had a similar meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, a member of the so-called Saskatchewan Party.

Clark seems not to have made the same request of Manitoba’s premier, Greg Selinger, who unlike the other three western premiers is not a member of some form of conservative political entity. This decision was likely made on the perfectly reasonable assumption Selinger is a New Democrat, just like Adrian Dix, the B.C. Opposition leader who is (at this moment, anyway) expected to beat Clark on May 14, 2013. That Tuesday is, of course, B.C.’s apparently unavoidable fixed election date.

Nevertheless, I imagine (which is something as a blogger that I can permit myself to do) that Clark did have some other questions for Redford:

  • CHRISTY CLARK: So, why do you think the polls got it all wrong about you and Danielle, I mean Ms. Smith? Tell me that story again, would you?
  • ALISON REDFORD: I’ll tell you, but only if you tell me first that you’ll endorse the Northern Gateway Pipeline!
  • CHRISTY CLARK: Jeeze, Alison, you know I can’t do that. If that got out, I’d be toast on a stick!
  • ALISON REDFORD: C’mon Christy, just endorse it a little bit!
  • CHRISTY CLARK: (Mumbles.)
  • ALISON REDFORD: What’s that, Christy, I couldn’t hear you?
  • CHRISTY CLARK: I’m not going to do that, Alison, and don’t do your tough-premier act on me! I’m a premier too! Just tell me this: Have you got a number for that Stephen Carter fellow, the guy who ran your campaign?
  • ALISON REDFORD: I’ll give it to you if you’ll endorse the pipeline. I won’t tell anyone. Just endorse it to me!
  • CHRISTY CLARK: Awww, Alison, that’s no fair! You know I can’t do that! Can you just give me his email address?
  • ALISON REDFORD: Endorse the pipeline first! …

Now there’s an important disclaimer about that conversation, and that is this: I just made it up! There is nothing whatsoever, no facts on the ground in either British Columbia or Alberta, to suggest a conversation remotely like that actually took place.
That’s because, whatever it was that was said, it’s a secret!
Just the same, you’ve got to wonder, eh?

(full text).

(David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues
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