Alberta BC Trade Dispute

April 19, 2018 10:09 pm
Updated: April 20, 2018 9:00 pm

‘Free the beer’ ruling proves Alberta can’t stop gas from flowing into B.C.: David Eby

WATCH: B.C. Attorney General calls new Alberta pipeline legislation a 'bluff'

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B.C.’s attorney general says a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the ability to export booze across provincial borders proves his case regarding Alberta’s proposed bill to restrict oil and gas exports.

On Wednesday, Canada’s top court ruled that while provinces have the right to restrict how much alcohol Canadians transport across provincial boundaries, they can’t use trade restrictions to punish other provinces.

Attorney General David Eby said that’s exactly the intent of Alberta’s Bill 12, which would allow the province to restrict the export of oil and gas products using provincial licenses.

“The court specifically noted that provinces are not allowed to impose tariffs or rules like tariffs to punish other provinces,” Eby said.

WATCH: Bill 12 gives Alberta ‘strategic control’ over energy resources: Energy minister


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Alberta introduced the bill with the inter-provincial dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline at its tensest moment yet.

READ MORE: Supreme Court beer ruling could apply to Alberta-B.C. pipeline war: experts

B.C. plans to ask the Court of Appeal to rule on whether it has jurisdiction to restrict the flow of bitumen through a pipeline over environmental concerns by the end of the month, and Trans Mountain parent company Kinder Morgan is threatening to kill the project if uncertainty around its future continues past May 31.

Alberta has denied that the intent of its bill is to “punish” B.C., but has said that it does intend to put “pressure” on B.C. to “come around and focus on what this pipeline actually means.”

“[The ruling is] exactly what we’ve been saying in response to Alberta’s proposed legislation,” said Eby. “That it is unconstitutional, that they are not allowed to punish other provinces.”

B.C. has threatened to take Alberta to court if it actually tries to activate the proposed legislation.

WATCH: Canada’s ‘free the beer’ case loses in Supreme Court

The so-called “free the beer” case began in 2012 when New Brunswick resident Gerard Comeau was stopped by police with 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor that he had bought in Quebec.

READ MORE: Supreme Court ruling on New Brunswick man’s border-beer battle could change Confederation

The 64-year-old was fined nearly $300, but successfully argued in a New Brunswick court that the charge violated constitutional law, overturning a ban on bringing alcohol across provincial boundaries.

The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously threw out that decision, affirming current inter-provincial trade law and saying that provinces have the power to enact laws that restrict commerce if there is another overriding purpose, in this case the desire to control the supply of alcohol within New Brunswick.

  • With files from the Canadian Press

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