The B.C. government is calling on the courts to rule on the controversial decision to consult on restricting the flow of bitumen through pipeline or rail across British Columbia.
B.C. Premier John Horgan announced on Thursday afternoon that the province was hiring lawyers to determine whether B.C. has the legal right to consult on the issue.
Coverage of the Alberta-B.C. pipeline spat on Globalnews.ca:
“We are preparing a reference to the constitutional question at play here to the courts and that we will retain expert legal counsel to guide us in this regard,” Horgan said.
“The outcome of that reference will also be used to inform any next steps B.C. intends to use to defend our interests.”
LISTEN: B.C. to refer bitumen to courts for review
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has been applying pressure to the B.C. government, first banning the import of B.C. wines into her province and threatening to take further measures if British Columbia did not address concerns this week.
The two sides have been feuding since B.C. announced on Jan. 30 that it was considering restrictions on the flow of bitumen.
Alberta has called the restrictions illegal, and said they would severely damage the national economy by derailing the federally-approved Trans Mountain pipeline twinning.
British Columbia asked the federal government to do a joint legal reference, but Ottawa declined. Horgan said that forced B.C. to “go at it alone.”
“This is not about politics. It is not about trade. It’s about the rights of British Columbians to be heard, it’s about the rights of British Columbians to have a government to stand up for their interests,” said Horgan.
“This is intended to have cooler heads prevail. We believe the rule of law is important in this country.”
The B.C government expects the reference to take several weeks to prepare.
The goal of the reference to to reinforce the constitutional right “to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill.”
Consultations are going to go ahead for now on spill response time, geographic response plans, compensation for loss of pubic and cultural use of land and application of regulations to marine spills.
“To have the government of Alberta using these issues as tactics is not of any interest to me. I believe we have the jurisdictions to proceed in all five areas and we are going to test that fifth area,” said Horgan.
Notley was to respond to Horgan’s announcement on Thursday afternoon.