April 18, 2018 11:58 am
Updated: April 18, 2018 5:56 pm

B.C. government to file Trans Mountain reference case by April 30

An Angus Reid Forum poll found 54 per cent of British Columbians surveyed are in favour of the project. Jordan Armstrong reports.

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The B.C. government will be filing a reference case in connection with the ongoing dispute over the Kinder Morgan pipeline in the B.C. Court of Appeal by April 30.

Lawyer Joseph Arvay has been hired by the province to craft the question.

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“The B.C. Court of Appeal is the highest court to which the province can refer questions of this nature under B.C.’s Constitutional Question Act,” said Attorney General David Eby. “The reference will first be approved by cabinet through an order-in-council, and then filed with the Court of Appeal registry.”

READ MORE: Support for the Trans Mountain expansion grows amidst pipeline dispute

The B.C. government decided to hire Arvay in February during the midst of the trade dispute between Alberta and British Columbia. The move prompted Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to end the ban on importing B.C. wines into the province. Alberta and the federal government decided not to join the reference case.

READ MORE: New law would allow Alberta to restrict flow of oil and gas 

Alberta’s minister of energy wasn’t surprised to hear about B.C.’s decision to file the reference.

“They continue to play political games,” Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said. “They continue to try to frustrate investors and erode investor confidence.

“What I can say is we are prepared to pull the rug out from under them.”

She said the Alberta government’s legal department would be closely following the matter and would fiercely defend Alberta.

“There’s talks going on with Canada and Alberta and the proponent, Kinder Morgan, and if Alberta decides to invest or is an investor — or Canada — I can say we’ll be much more determined and relentless investors.”

READ MORE: Alberta prepared to buy Trans Mountain pipeline outright, Notley says 

McCuaig-Boyd said conversations with B.C. are “ongoing” but said she hadn’t spoken to Premier John Horgan directly on Wednesday. She said the reference doesn’t change anything.

“This is just continued game playing by the B.C. government and it’s these kinds of roadblocks that have made us more determined than ever and that’s why we’ve introduced Bill 12 and we will be passing it and we’re absolutely prepared to use it.”

WATCH HERE: Alberta’s Notley applauds B.C. court ruling on Trans Mountain pipeline

Last Sunday, B.C. Premier John Horgan met with Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.

The future of the pipeline has been in doubt after Kinder Morgan announced it was stopping all non-essential work on the pipeline twinning. The Texas-based company claimed the uncertainty caused by B.C.’s public opposition to the pipeline would force them to cancel the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project by May 31 if there aren’t assurances from Ottawa the pipeline would be built.

READ MORE: B.C. Attorney General calls new Alberta pipeline legislation a ‘bluff’

Reference cases, like the one currently being prepared by Arvay, can be done in different ways. Eby says they can be more open-ended or have very specific provisions.

“The key issue that we want to resolve is the constitutional question that [was] raised in relation to number five of the environment intentions document that the minister put forward. What we are looking for is certainty,” said Eby last week. “The province has responsibility and authority even in projects that are pipelines that are federal jurisdiction.”

— With files from Global’s Emily Mertz

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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