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article imageAlberta premier threatens to turn off the oil tap in B.C. dispute

By Karen Graham     Mar 9, 2018 in Politics
Edmonton - Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has ratcheted up the stakes in her fight to get the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion built, threatening to cut off the oil taps to British Columbia and even the rest of Canada, if necessary.
There would be an almost immediate impact on British Columbia's citizens if Alberta follows through on its threat to turn off the oil taps to the province, with gasoline prices soaring even higher than they are today.
The possibility of restricting inter-province fuel shipments was raised in the throne speech delivered by Alberta Lt. Gov. Lois Mitchell, which made reference to a 15-percent cut in approvals to ship oil to Ontario refineries under the National Energy Program of prime minister Pierre Trudeau, according to the Vancouver Sun.
“In the past, when workers in our energy industry were attacked and when the resources we own were threatened, Premier Peter Lougheed took bold action,” Mitchell said, in reference to the battle with B.C. over building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to carry Alberta oilsands bitumen to tidewater. “We will not hesitate to invoke similar legislation if it becomes necessary owing to extreme and illegal actions on the part of the B.C. government to stop the pipeline.”
Speaking with the press before the throne speech, Notley wouldn't come out and say exactly what she planned on doing, instead, leaving the threat to shut off the pipelines hanging in the air. She did say the government was ready to pass legislation with the “key focus of getting people’s attention on the matter.”
"We're not interested in creating any kind of crisis in any way, shape or form. We're going to be measured. We're going to be careful."
George Heyman, B.C.’s environment, and climate change minister was skeptical over whether Alberta would follow through on its threat, suggesting the province should seek a resolution through legal channels.
“I see no reason to believe Alberta would take unfair or unlawful action against British Columbia,” Heyman said because B.C. is simply “proposing some regulations that are well within our jurisdiction.” He added, “We’re determined to defend our environment, our economy, and our coastline,”
Proposed route of Trans Mountain Pipeline extension.
Proposed route of Trans Mountain Pipeline extension.
Kinder Morgan
A long, drawn-out battle goes political
The battle over the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has been going on since 2014 when the City of Vancouver and First Nations groups went before Canada's National Energy Board seeking legal action against the NEB, citing shortcomings in the review process.
The city had asked the energy board to consider climate change in July 2014, but it refused. Since that time, there have been any number of lawsuits filed against the proposed pipeline expansion, with Vancouver leading the way in fighting for the environment.
Now, Alberta is using a "Trump card," Edgar Peter Lougheed, who served as the Premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985 as a Progressive Conservative. As premier, Lougheed furthered the development of the province's oil and gas resources and started the Alberta Heritage Fund as a way of ensuring that the exploitation of non-renewable resources would be of long-term benefit to Alberta.
Lougheed also got into a showdown with Pierre Trudeau's federal Liberal government over its 1980 introduction of the National Energy Program. This is when Lougheed introduced legislation that would have curtailed the flow of Alberta oil by 85 percent.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau  was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada fr...
Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984.
© Janusz Überall
The Alberta legislation was passed because Alberta didn't want the federal government to gain greater control over the Canadian petroleum industry and its revenues. This one move by Lougheed prompted Pierre Trudeau's government to come back to the negotiating table where an agreement for energy revenue sharing was finally reached in 1982.
Alberta Opposition United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney has been pushing Notley for weeks to take a tougher stance with pipeline opponents, including trying Lougheed's move, according to CTV News Canada "(This) is exactly the strategy I advocated since Day One. And the premier mocked and ridiculed that idea right up until the last few days," said Kenney.
Kenney noted that Notley and the federal government have stated that the law is clear and Ottawa alone has ultimate jurisdiction on interprovincial pipelines.
"So far this looks like a pro wrestling match between two wings of the NDP, a choreographed fake fight. If they (Notley's government) are really serious about this, they'll back it up with action," he said.
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