The British Columbia government is considering legal action against the province of Alberta after it introduced legislation that would allow the government to restrict the flow of oil and gas.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby says his officials are now carefully reviewing the new Alberta legislation that was unveiled on Monday.
“If there is anything in this legislation that even suggests the possibility of discrimination against British Columbians, we will take every step necessary to protect British Columbians because it would be completely illegal,” said Eby. “It is very difficult for us to forget the context by which this was introduced.”
After weeks of talking publicly about the legislation, Alberta premier Rachel Notley’s government officially tabled it in Edmonton on Monday. Once passed, Alberta Energy minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd would be able to direct truckers, pipeline companies and rail operators on how much product could be shipped and when. Violators would face fines of up to $1 million a day for individuals and $10 million a day for corporations.
Notley says the goal of the legislation is to ensure Alberta can get its product to market. Eby says the B.C. government sees it differently considering that for weeks Alberta has mentioned bringing forward the legislation in response to B.C.’s opposition to twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
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“We have seen over the past several weeks statements from Alberta ministers and the premier herself that they were to introduce a bill to, quote, punish, end quote, B.C. by restricting the flow of oil and gas to our province,” said Eby. “We know, as I am sure they know, that the constitution forbids discrimination around energy between provinces.”
The ongoing dispute around the Kinder Morgan pipeline hit a peak on Sunday when Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan flew to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Notley said the proposed legislation is not punishing B.C. for the Kinder Morgan project’s delay but adds Alberta is “very committed to putting pressure on B.C. to come around and focus on what this pipeline actually means.”
About 80,000 barrels a day of refined fuels go to British Columbia, with much of that coming through the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline north of Edmonton to Burnaby.
The expansion project has federal approval but Horgan insists the review process was flawed and there is not enough certainty from the federal government that the coast would be protected and cleaned up properly from a spill. Following the meeting on Sunday, Horgan said he didn’t expect the Alberta government to actually use the legislation even though it would be introduced.
“The prime minister said quite unequivocally that he had no intention of threatening British Columbians when it came to transfer payments or any other joint projects that the federal and provincial governments are working on,” said Horgan.
“When I asked premier Notley what her intentions were she said their legislative session is very brief and they were going to bring in enabling legislation and they didn’t necessarily think they were going to act on it.”
-With files from the Canadian Press