May 16, 2017 11:32 am
Updated: May 16, 2017 2:02 pm

Trans Mountain opponents can’t hold Alberta economy hostage: Rachel Notley

A photo of Trans Mountain provided by Trans Mountain and EVRAZ, May 2, 2017.

Courtesy: Trans Mountain and EVRAZ
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The Federal Court of Appeal has granted the Alberta NDP government intervener status in lawsuits filed against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which Alberta Premier Rachel Notley defended Tuesday.

Several First Nation bands and B.C. municipalities filed the lawsuits in an attempt to stop the project, which already has federal and B.C. approvals.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Edmonton, Notley said the project means tens of thousands of new jobs for people across the country, not just in Alberta. She said opponents in B.C. can dislike the project — but they can’t stop it.

“Of course, we understand that some oppose the twinning of the pipeline and I respect their opinions,” she said during the news conference at the legislature.

“But I fundamentally disagree that one province, or even one region, can hold hostage the economy of another province, or in this case, the economy our the entire country.”

The fate of the project had been cast into some doubt by the results of last week’s B.C. election, with the Green party – which opposes the development – holding the balance of power in a minority
government.

Notley has maintained that the election results don’t jeopardize the project because it already has the regulatory approvals in place.

READ MORE: Notley’s outlook for Kinder Morgan pipeline unswayed by B.C. vote

“It’s our view that there are no tools available for a province to overturn or otherwise block a federal government decision to approve a project that is in the larger national interest,” she said.

“If there were such tools, Canada would be less a country and more a combination of individual fiefdoms fighting with each other for advantage. And let me be very clear — that does not help any of us, any of the provinces to advance our economic interests on the world stage. Thankfully, Canada is more than 10 provinces and three territories.”

Having said that, Notley said provinces still have the right to pursue things that are in their own citizens’ best interests.

Notley supports the $7.4-billion project proposed by Texas-based Kinder Morgan to triple the amount of crude that flows from the Edmonton area to the B.C. Lower Mainland.

The proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion route.

Courtesy: Trans Mountain

The federal government approved the project late last year, so Notley doesn’t believe a political shift in B.C. is much of a factor.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline agreement includes investment deadline, BC hiring priorities

The B.C. election last week left Christy Clark’s Liberals just shy of a majority with 43 seats, but recounts and absentee ballots could change the final tally. The NDP won 41 seats and the Green Party holds the balance of power with three seats.

Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton, Alta., Thursday, April 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Alberta and B.C. New Democrats may share the same party name, but the similarities end there when it comes to Trans Mountain.

The B.C. NDP’s campaign platform promised to use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop the Trans Mountain project from going ahead but did not outline how.

It’s fairly common for members from different provincial wings of the same party to help in each other’s campaigns, but this year Notley dissuaded her workers from doing so.

READ MORE: Alberta premier warns her government workers away from campaigning for B.C. NDP.

In announcing his blessing for the Trans Mountain expansion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the Notley government’s efforts to combat climate change through a carbon tax and other measures.

In filing for intervener status, the Alberta government said it would defend the province and its key industries in court.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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