Notley to keep talking pipelines with BC despite Horgan’s potential absence at premiers meeting

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to reporters at her Stampede Breakfast in Calgary on July 10, 2017. Global News

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan will be sworn in as premier next week, meaning he’s not expected to attend a meeting of Canadian premiers when Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hosts the Council of the Federation (COF) in Edmonton.

“Their swearing-in ceremony is… overlapping with the COF meeting and so there are practical realities around that,” Notley told reporters at her annual Stampede Breakfast in Calgary on Monday.

“I’ll leave him to make that announcement,” she said when asked if he had confirmed he would not attend.

READ MORE: NDP to form minority government in B.C.: What happens next?

Watch below: Videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of John Horgan ascent to power.

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Horgan’s spectacular ascent to the premier’s office in B.C. has many in Alberta concerned his coalition with the B.C. Greens will see that province try to scuttle Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Both the B.C. NDP and the Greens have voiced concerns about the project and agreed to work together to try to stop the expansion as part of their deal to form a minority government.

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During the recent B.C. election campaign, Notley warned people working for her government not to campaign for B.C.’s New Democrats. Even though they are part of the same party, Notley said in April it would be difficult for anybody who works for her government to support candidates that oppose the Kinder Morgan project, which is crucial to Alberta’s interests.

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

Watch below: Videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of the debate over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

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“He (Horgan) and I had a good conversation last week and we talked about a number of different issues and certainly we touched on the fact that that (pipelines) is an issue we don’t agree on, but I also feel very confident that there is value to continuing those conversations and so we will,” Notley said Monday.

“We’re not at the point where we would not be having conversations and so for the time being, my view is that we need to do everything we can to see if we can’t find a path to a win-win.”

The Trudeau government has approved the $7.4-billion pipeline project and Alberta’s NDP has suggested if B.C. tried to stop it from moving forward, they would not be able to do so.

A vote of non-confidence late last month spelled the end of B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s reign as premier. The vote saw the NDP and the Greens’ 44 MLAs stand together to outnumber Clark’s 42 members, with Speaker Steve Thomson abstaining.

“He’s not even sworn in yet,” Notley said of future pipeline talks with Horgan. “We’ve had a good first conversation.”

The COF meetings will take place in Alberta’s capital from July 17 to 19. Notley said while a number of issues will be discussed by the country’s premiers at the conference, trade with the U.S. will be a prominent subject for discussion.

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“Our primary focus will be on our economic relationship with the United States and things that we can do collectively and individually as provinces to maintain those strong relationships and to continue to advocate for our important industries that are very trade-exposed,” she said Monday.

Notley has made a point of promoting Alberta industries and trying to strengthen U.S. trade ties. She’s been doing so as President Donald Trump pursues a protectionist agenda, which has seen him muse about opening up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Washington raise tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

READ MORE: Notley to promote Alberta and trade ties during visit to Washington

On top of Horgan being sworn in as B.C. premier next week, Canada’s westernmost province is also dealing with a wildfire crisis throughout much of its interior that has seen at least 14,000 people flee their homes. If Horgan doesn’t attend the COF meetings, it is not clear if B.C. will send someone in his place.

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