Why Clark’s five conditions are nothing but a smoke screen

The vast majority of British Columbians oppose the expansion of oil tankers off our coast. Our jobs, our salmon and killer whales, our sense of ourselves and our future will be put at risk if Big Oil and their political supporters in Alberta and Ottawa get their way and bring hundreds of oil tankers annually to our waters.

While other party leaders have been clear about what their parties would do on this issue if elected, B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark has not been. Last fall Clark’s Liberals announced five conditions upon which to base further consideration of heavy oil proposals by Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and others.

But after months of hearings, and hundreds of hours of evidence, 17 days after the election the newly elected B.C. government needs to submit their final argument to the federal panel reviewing the Enbridge proposal. Approximately 18 days after that the new government has to sit down before the panel and present their final submissions. The unanswered question is: what would a Clark government say?

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix asked this question during the debate, but Clark dodged it. Clark loves to refer to her five conditions, but here is the thing: all the evidence is in, nothing new will be presented between now and when the B.C. government (whoever is Premier) makes its final submissions. So has Enbridge met Clark’s five conditions or not?

Only Clark can answer that question, but the people of British Columbia deserve to know before the election.

This is where the legacy of the HST comes in. Will this be the second election in a row that a Liberal leader keeps a major decision on a controversial subject to him or herself, only to let British Columbians in on the secret after the vote is counted?

And if Clark says she doesn’t have all the information she needs to make a decision, exactly what more information does she need? And how does she propose to get it in the 17 days after the election before final submissions to the review panel are due?

British Columbians deserve to know.

Surprisingly, the media – despite wall-to-wall coverage of the oil tanker issue – has not yet been pressing Clark for an answer. They should.

Let’s be clear: punting is not an option. If Clark hides behind the five conditions and fails to take a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ stance during the final submissions to the review panel, she is choosing to leave the decision to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet. That is unacceptable to most British Columbians, including most federal Liberal and Tory voters.

Although I never thought I’d recommend any leader follow George W. Bush’s example, I suggest Clark emulate one of his more notorious quips: Christy, you are the decider. Decide what you think is best for B.C.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, Green leader Jane Sterk and Conservative leader John Cummins have each decided and announced their decisions. Christy Clark, now it’s your turn.

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