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B.C. chief says would-be Alberta premier Jim Prentice understands oil opposition

OTTAWA - Former federal environment minister Jim Prentice hasn't even formally announced his intention to seek Alberta's premiership yet but he's already attracted a backhanded endorsement from a tough oil and gas opponent next door.

Stewart Phillip, the grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, says he's been eye-to-eye with Prentice in negotiations before and respects the former land claims negotiator's ability to hear his opponents' point of view.

For Phillip, those concerns currently include the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to the northern B.C. coast — a project the B.C. grand chief says is dead.

Prentice was hired two months ago by energy company Enbridge to negotiate the pipeline with First Nations and Phillip believes the exercise — while fruitless — has given the prospective Alberta premier a strong sense of the depth and commitment of the opposition to Northern Gateway.

Phillip says the process may help Prentice bring some creative solutions to the growing energy impasse in the country if he becomes Alberta's premier.

The B.C. grand chief thinks Prentice may have underestimated the opposition to Northern Gateway when he took over the advisory job but believes the CIBC executive understands what the industry is up against now.

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