B.C. set to take Alberta to court over ‘turn off the taps’ legislation
The B.C. government is preparing to take the Alberta government to court over Bill 12, a piece of legislation that would give Alberta the power to stop shipping oil and gas to British Columbia.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby said legislation that allows Alberta to restrict the shipment of natural resources to B.C. is unconstitutional.
The legal proceedings cannot start until Bill 12 receives royal assent and the expectation is that could happen as early as Thursday.
Once the bill receives royal assent, B.C. will move forward with a challenge on the constitutional validity of the legislation at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
“The B.C. courts, although we can provide a reference, they could not provide a remedy for us to strike down the law we have to go to Alberta to achieve that,” Eby said.
“Unfortunately cases like this can take years if it goes to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
British Columbia asked Alberta to participate with them in a joint reference case to the country’s highest court. Alberta turned down that request.
In a letter, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley told Eby that B.C. was trying to “sow legal confusion.”
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“Alberta has the right to act in the public interest to reduce the negative impacts to our treasury and the economy,” the letter read.
“We are confident in our position. Banning imports is a fundamentally different action than controlling the export of our own resources and thus falls under two different constitutional authorities. Our legislation has been carefully considered and we do not need to refer it to our courts.”
The legislation was introduced as part of the ongoing battle between the B.C. and the Alberta governments over bitumen.
The B.C. government has vowed to do everything in its “tool kit” to stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7.4-billion pipeline twinning would see nearly three times as much crude bitumen being shipped every day from north of Edmonton to the Kinder Morgan facility in Burnaby.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was asked about a possible B.C. court challenge on Thursday. Notley touted the fact that Alberta has not lost any cases in court in connection with the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute.
“It’s about the same reaction as the first time they did it. We feel pretty confident that we have the authority to control the export of our own resources,” said Notley. “So far, we’re winning pretty much every one — knock on wood.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal is currently looking at a reference case from the B.C. government asking if legislation that would allow the flow of bitumen by pipeline or rail through the province is constitutional.
Kinder Morgan has scaled back spending on the project and has set a May 31 deadline for the federal government to have British Columbia to back away from its opposition to the project.
Analysts have said if Alberta uses the legislation it could drive the price of gasoline in British Columbia to over $2 per litre. The B.C. government has already said that if the legislation is used, and the taps shut off, British Columbia would file an immediate injunction.
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“The issue of damages or injunction would only be if Alberta attempts to use this law,” said Eby. “It would be part of an action in Alberta, or potentially a new action in Alberta.”
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Wednesday morning that if Kinder Morgan wants to abandon plans to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, there are plenty of other investors out there willing to take up the cause.
He also said the federal Liberal government is willing to “provide indemnity” to those investors to ensure the controversial Alberta-B.C. project can proceed.
Below, you can view the letter Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley sent to B.C. Attorney General David Eby about Bill 12, which could allow Alberta limit the flow of oil to B.C.
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