B.C. heading to court in Alberta to stop fuel restriction law, may seek damages

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley declined to say when or how the legislation would be implemented

Tensions over the Trans Mountain pipeline increased Thursday with British Columbia announcing plans to launch a lawsuit over new Alberta legislation that could restrict fuel exports to the West Coast.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby said his province will ask the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta to declare the legislation unconstitutional on the grounds that one province cannot punish another.

The bill, which allows limits on fuel exports to B.C., was passed by Alberta’s legislature on Wednesday.

If Alberta moves to implement the act, B.C. will apply for an injunction and seek damages, Eby said.

“Unfortunately, proceedings like this can take years if it goes all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is why we wanted to start at the Supreme Court of Canada if we could,” he said. “But we’re starting at the court to get this remedy we’re seeking, which is to have this law struck as unconstitutional.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley declined to say when or how the legislation would be implemented, but she said she believes the law will withstand a legal challenge.

“We feel pretty confident that we have authority to control the export of our own resources under the Constitution as a means of maximizing the return to the people of Alberta,” she said. ”So we’re going to go ahead with it on that basis.”

READ MORE: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Notley told business leaders at a speech in Edmonton that her government doesn’t want to impose hardship on B.C. businesses and families, but Alberta must also safeguard its interests.

About 100 business people from B.C. travelled over the Rockies and joined 200 colleagues from the Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce to hear Notley speak.

“If we have to we’ll do what former Alberta premiers have done and we will act to assert our resources to get the most value possible out of our resources,” she said. “In so doing we will contribute to the long-term health of our country.”

Plans to triple capacity along Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby have pitted Alberta and the federal government against B.C.’s government, which says the risk of a spill is too great for the province’s environment and economy.

B.C. filed a reference case in the province’s 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.

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.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday the federal government is prepared to offer an “indemnity” to help ease the political risks for any investors to ensure the pipeline expansion can proceed.

B.C. Premier John Horgan accused the federal government of committing tax dollars to back a private company’s venture.

Meanwhile, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman rejected an offer Thursday from federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to form a joint panel of scientists to research oil spills.

Heyman said B.C. already has its own scientific panel looking into ways to prevent and respond to bitumen spills. He said McKenna is looking to form a Canada-wide panel, but B.C. needs to focus on its specific needs.

“Estimates for impacts on the city of Vancouver’s economy alone range from $215 million to $1.23 billion in the case of a catastrophic spill,” he said in a letter to McKenna.

With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants take a 1-0 playoff series lead

Vancouver beat Seattle 7-1 in game one of the best-of-seven Western Conference series in Langley

Coroners office reports 29 fatal drug overdoses in Langley in 2018

Dealing with drug overdoses, fatal or not, creates serious stress for first responders.

PHOTOS: ‘Enchanted Forest’ excursion unveils Aldergrove park’s new Nature Discovery Area

Atop the former Aldergrove Lake now sits a large “free play” adventure area for kids.

Aldergrove team could return as all-stars on ‘The Amazing Race Canada’

Mother and daughter duo given a second chance, though their fate rests in the hands of voters

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

98-year-old cyclist in critical condition after struck by car in Abbotsford

83-year-old driver stayed on scene and did not suffer any injuries in the incident

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Most Read