The B.C. government is challenging the constitutionality of an Alberta bill that, if passed, could allow that province to restrict the export of refined oil into this province.
The claim was filed Tuesday, as the latest volley in the neighbouring provinces’ feud over the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said she’s willing to “turn off the taps” if B.C. doesn’t relent and allow the project to go forward or if the federal government doesn’t step in and force it to proceed. She did not specify a timeline.
Notley bowed out of a Western premier’s meeting this week, saying she didn’t think she could politely discuss pharmacare when one of the other premiers is trying to “choke the economic lifeblood” out of her province.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby said Tuesday the bill is meant to “punish” B.C., and that the court challenge comes after his government “failed” to convince Alberta to refer their law to the courts.
“A significant disruption in the supply of gasoline, diesel, and crude oil from Alberta to British Columbia would cause British Columbia irreparable harm,” the statement of claim reads.
Eby questioned why Alberta would take the time draft a law knowing that B.C. would challenge it, instead of referring the matter to a provincial or federal judge, as his government did.
“Why don’t we just go to the source?” he said.
The NDP filed a reference case in at the B.C. Court of Appeal last month to determine if it has jurisdiction to regulate heavy oil shipments. It also joined two other lawsuits launched by Indigenous groups opposed to the $7.4-billion project.
Eby again denied allegations that his government is trying to delay the pipeline, saying it is looking for environmental protections.
If Alberta does restrict oil transports to B.C. gas pumps, he said, the province is prepared to ask a judge to make an order against it through an injunction.
Notley said she wasn’t surprised by B.C.’s legal action in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Plans to triple capacity along the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby have pitted Alberta and the federal government against B.C.’s government since January.
B.C. argues that the risk of a spill is too great for the province’s environment and economy and would like to further study its impacts before the pipeline’s construction begins.
Notley argued B.C. has delayed the pipeline expansion.
“They are still reserving the right to play legal rope-a-dope until the cows come home,” Notley said.
Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the project until it receives assurances it can proceed without delays, setting a May 31 deadline on getting those guarantees.
- with a file from The Canadian Press