Waters: Okanagan sun turns political relationship from frosty to friendly

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford hug and make-up at Kelowna meeting.

Summer in the Okanagan can hot—hot enough, even on a cool day it seems, to melt  the icy heart of a politician.

Much has been made in the last few days about the thawing of the “frosty” relationship between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her Alberta counterpart Alison Redford.

Their good-natured jaunt along the Kelowna lakeshore Friday, coffee cups in hand, laughing and joking, Clark pointing out local landmarks of the riding she wants to represent—albeit incorrectly— all added to the new found sense of camaraderie between the two women.

Whether that buddy-buddy routine was echoed later behind closed doors when the two meet to discuss interprovincial issues is anyone’s guess. But when the pair emerged to meet the media, there was  still a sense of sisterhood between Clark and Redford.

They hugged, applauded each other, called each other by their first names, all quite different from how their male colleagues would act in a similar circumstance.

It wasn’t that many years ago the media did a double take when then-U.S. president George W. Bush referred to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a joint news conference as “Steve.”

And did we ever see Clark’s predecessor Gordon Campbell hug another politician during a news conference?

All-in-all, Clark and Redford’s Kelowna meeting seemed more like a love-in than a gathering of two political leaders supposedly divided over the controversial issue of a pipeline.

In fact, Redford said the issue of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline did not come up in their discussions. Hard to believe the elephant in the room was not discussed.

Clark, who is vying for the Westside-Kelowna seat in the upcoming byelection, kicked off her campaign by bringing plenty of attention to this area last week. How she follows that up will be interesting to watch.

But based on Redford’s stated reaction to watching the results of the B.C. election May 14, it sounds like Clark will have a supporter on the other side of the Rockies.

Redford, of course, was delighted the Liberals won in B.C. as the NDP had already come out firmly opposed the Northern Gateway pipeline.

In Clark— who has put the five conditions in place as the price of her support— there is still a chance B.C. may go along willingly with the plan.

Of course final approval rests with the federal government and most see it as supportive of the plan.

So, if Friday’ meeting between Clark and Redford was a fence-mending exercise, it appears to have worked.

And that’s something Redford can toast with the bottle Okanagan wine Clark gave her as a parting gift.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.



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