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article imageAlberta — B.C. dispute heats up over Trans Mountain pipeline

By Karen Graham     Feb 15, 2018 in Politics
The dispute over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline between Alberta and B.C. continues to heat up. On Wednesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley put her 19-member task force to work, tasked with taking the fight to B.C. over the pipeline.
On January 31, British Columbia announced it would be introducing the Environmental Management Act, which gives it the right to take action that would protect B.C.'s coastline and environment. Right away, the Alberta government and Premier Rachel Notley reacted.
Notley saw B.C.’s actions as a threat to Canada’s constitution and a breach of interprovincial trade rules and she said the province would take legal action to stop B.C. “Just because the B.C. government, in coalition with the Green Party, doesn’t like the decision gives them absolutely no right to ignore the law or… change the rules at half-time based on a whim,” Notley said.
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At that time, Notley also mentioned Alberta could take economic actions against B.C. A week later, Notley announced she was suspending talks to buy electricity from B.C., which could throw a wrench into a proposed $500 million a year deal.
On February 6, Notley said at a news conference, "The wine industry is very important to B.C. Not nearly as important as the energy industry is to Alberta and Canada, but important nonetheless." Last year Alberta imported about 95 percent of its wine from B.C., worth about $70 million.
She continued, "The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Control Board will put an immediate halt to the import of B.C. wine into Alberta," adding that Albertan's should order Alberta craft beers instead or B.C. wines.
Canadian Gertie from British Columbia.
Canadian Gertie from British Columbia.
Notley is a fierce advocate for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and insisted the province was playing by the rules. However, her comments sparked an angry response from B.C. Premier John Horgan, who said in a statement, "If Alberta disagrees they can make that argument in the proper venue, in our court system. Our consultation on proposed new regulations hasn't even begun, but Alberta has seen fit to take measures to impact B.C. businesses."
Horgan also issued a counter-threat to Alberta, cautioning "Alberta to step back from this threatening position" and said he would "respond to the unfair trade actions announced today." It needs to be said that while Notley wanted Canadians to boycott B.C. wines, for many Canadians, the reaction instead created the opposite effect with the Canadian press reporting "environmental groups flocked to buy B.C. wine to show their support for the industry."
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Notley attended the first meeting of her task force on Wednesday which includes former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, that will look into efforts to pressure B.C. to back down from its pipeline fight, according to CBC.
Prior to convening the meeting, Notley told reporters, “These folks on our task force have deep connections across the country — industry, investors, academics, the legal community (and) all levels of government. I’m going to be looking to this task force… to provide additional legal and strategic advice to make sure we can end the delays, end the games and get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.”
Notley says she is giving the task force a few days to see if they can make any headway on the dispute before she decides on any further action against B.C. As for B.C., on Tuesday Horgan told reporters it was never the intention to have the ban in place during the consultation over any environmental impacts with the pipeline.
More about trans mountain pipeline, Alberta Canada, British columbia, Trade war, Environmental Management Act
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