Alberta Chambers of Commerce president weighs in on provincial pipeline dispute

Bottles of British Columbia wine on display at a liquor store in Cremona, Alta., on Feb. 7, 2018. Alberta is banning the import of B.C. wines in response to what Premier Rachel Notley sees as moves to try to scuttle the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press

The feud between Alberta and B.C. over pipeline expansion continues, with neither province backing down.

Premier Rachel Notley has threatened more action against the province’s neighbours to the west if the dispute cannot be settled in the coming days.

While Premier John Horgan says he does not plan to retaliate after Alberta banned the import of B.C. wines, it was the ban on increased shipping of bitumen off the West Coast that sparked the feud, according Alberta Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Ken Kobly.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to see it escalate, but I can understand her frustration with what B.C. is trying to do to delay and frustrate,” he told the Alberta Morning News.

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“As [Premier John Horgan] put it, he’s using all his tools in his toolbox to delay or decline the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

Kobly said the ban on increased bitumen is one of many obstructionist tactics from B.C. to attempt to delay or stop the pipeline expansion.

Kobly believes the federal government has an obligation to put an end to the dispute.

“You have the right and the responsibility under these particular items to regulate and control pipelines,” he said.

The pipeline expansion does have federal approval, and there is widespread concern the dispute between the provinces could cause Kinder Morgan to back out — and discourage other companies from expanding into Canada.

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The federal government continue talks with their B.C. counterparts this week in an attempt to find a resolution, but Kobly says more action needs to be taken, such as taking the issue to the Supreme Court.

While a legal challenge would no doubt be lengthy, Kobly says in the long run it will save time by putting an end to the discussion once and for all.

“Anything that would come forward — perhaps any other lawsuits that would try to stymie the expansion — once the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that it’s under the purview of the government of Canada, none of those court cases would be able to be heard.”

According to Kobly, the dispute is not really between the two provinces at all, but rather between B.C. and the government of Canada.

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