February 14, 2018 6:40 pm
Updated: February 15, 2018 4:32 am

B.C. Liberals claim ‘wine war’ with Alberta has jeopardized natural gas pipeline

The opposition Liberals had their first chance to grill the government today, but political experts say their options are limited when it comes to really going after the NDP. John Hua explains.

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The BC Liberals say a trade war between Alberta and B.C. has “imperiled” a $2-billion pipeline project in the province.

In Question Period on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said that on Feb. 8 the Alberta Department of Energy formally voiced its opposition —  through a submission to the National Energy Board — to the North Montney Mainline Extension, a natural gas pipeline linking British Columbian natural gas operations with eastern markets.

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“While the premier goes about grandstanding to his activist friends, British Columbian workers are suffering and our reputation as a safe place for investment is being tarnished,” Wilkinson said.

“Alberta’s actions are a direct consequence of John Horgan’s provocative approach – this has to end, John Horgan has to go to Edmonton and sort this squabble out now.”

READ MORE: TransCanada seeks to start building B.C. gas pipeline without LNG project’s OK

But the B.C. government says the opposition is not telling the whole story. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said the Alberta application to the National Energy Board was about the type of tariff that would be applied to the project. Mungall said provinces often intervene in the type of tariff that is applied to projects like this one.

“There is going to be a tariff,” Mungall said. “There was always going to be a tariff. And this has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on right now in terms of our desire to consult with British Columbians on what we do in the case of an oil spill.”

The project is expected to create 2,500 direct jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in direct contracts to Canadian companies.

READ MORE: B.C. premier not backing away from $10/day child care, despite its throne speech absence

The B.C. Liberals focused their first Question Period under Wilkinson on the ongoing trade battle between Alberta and British Columbia. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced last week that her government would no longer allow B.C. wine to be shipped into the province. The move was in response to the B.C government’s plan to consult on restricting the flow of bitumen from Northern Alberta to B.C.’s coast.

Question Period also showcased a new look BC Liberal front bench, with Wilkinson and MLAs Mike Bernier, Jas Johal and Shirley Bond leading the questions.

Wilkinson was asked after Question Period whether the party has any credibility asking the new government about issues that plagued the Liberals like ICBC rates, Hydro rates and housing affordability.

“Well, the task of the opposition is to hold the current government to account,” he said. “It is the job of this government that has been in power for seven months to come up with a plan to deal with issues that are on the table.”

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