Canadian Manufacturing

Alberta premier spells out retaliation in ‘frank chat’ with B.C. premier

Premier Rachel Notley says she is introducing legislation as early as this week to give Alberta the power to reduce oil flows to B.C., if it continues to oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. She is also calling on the PM to take action against B.C.

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her cabinet discuss the importance of getting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built. Notley is prepared to punish B.C. for its opposition to the project, by reducing oil flows to the province. PHOTO: Rachel Notley/Twitter

EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says British Columbia’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline threatens the rule of law in Canada and says she made it clear in a phone call to B.C. Premier John Horgan that her province is retaliating.

Notley said Monday they had what she called a “very frank chat.”

She also said she is introducing legislation as early as this week to give Alberta the power to reduce oil flows to B.C., which could send gas prices in the province soaring.

Notley’s comments come after Kinder Morgan announced Sunday it was scaling back work on the Trans Mountain pipeline, saying opposition from the B.C. government puts the project at risk.

B.C. is fighting the multibillion-dollar expansion with legal challenges and permit delays over concern about oil spills and coastline protection.

The expansion project, from Edmonton to Burnaby, already has federal approval and Notley says B.C.’s actions ignore the rule of law and threaten to provoke a constitutional crisis.

“There are those out there who are, at this point, calling this moment that we are in a constitutional crisis for the country,” Notley said in a statement prior to a cabinet meeting. “I don’t know really if that’s too far off.”

Kinder Morgan has given a deadline of May 31 for a clear signal that the Trans Mountain project can proceed.

Related: Kinder Morgan draws line in the sand on B.C. pipeline opposition

Notley said the federal government needs to step up with concrete action.

“If the federal government allows its authority to be challenged in this way, if the national interest is given over to the extremes on the left or the right, and if the voices of the moderate majority of Canadians are forgotten, the reverberations of that will tear at the fabric of Confederation for many, many years to come,” she said.

The project would triple the amount of oil shipped from Alberta to B.C.

Notley says the expansion is critical to getting oil to overseas markets and fetching a better price. Right now, Alberta oil is effectively confined to North American markets and sells at a comparative discount due to shipping bottlenecks.

The legislature held an emergency debate on the importance of the Trans Mountain issue Monday afternoon.

Opposition United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said Notley needs to do more to push Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adding Trudeau appears unwilling to risk his political popularity in B.C.

“I don’t think (Trudeau) really believes in this fight,” said Kenney. “I think he’s going through the motions. I hope I’m wrong.”

Notley said Sunday if Kinder Morgan investors pull out over lack of faith in Trans Mountain, the province may step in and take an equity stake in the expansion.

Kenney says he agrees with that even though it runs counter to his free market instincts.

“These are truly unique circumstances,” said Kenney. “We are facing a potential catastrophe for our economic future if we don’t get a coastal pipeline.”

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