B.C. premier not expecting ‘any surprises’ at Western premiers’ meeting next week
John Horgan has never been to Yellowknife before. It looks like the B.C. premier’s first visit will be a memorable one.
Horgan is heading to the Northwest Territories next Tuesday to meet with his counterparts across Western Canada, including Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
The two-day Western Premiers’ Conference will be the first time the politicians have met face to face since they were both summoned to Ottawa last month to discuss the ongoing Trans Mountain pipeline dispute.
“We have a disagreement on one issue. Our values are lock step. We have been friends for 20 years,” said Horgan of Notley.
“I believe that the risk of diluted bitumen spill to economy, to our environment, is too great. I don’t there will be any surprises next week.”
The pipeline dispute will no doubt be the main attraction at the meeting that will also include other Western provincial and territorial leaders.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has been vocal in his support of Notley and the Alberta government in its push to see the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion go forward.
Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for the federal government to ensure that it has the pieces in place for the pipeline to go forward. If the company is not satisfied enough has been done, it is threatening to walk away from the project.
Watch below: New poll shows growing support for Trans Mountain pipeline
The tension between Notley and Horgan was amplified on Thursday, when B.C. Attorney General David Eby said his government was planning on taking Alberta to court over Bill 12.
The controversial legislation would give Alberta the power to turn off the taps to oil and gas flowing across the Rockies, which analysts say could drive gas prices in B.C. over $2 a litre.
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 on Thursday.
“Unfortunately cases like this can take years if it goes to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
The ongoing dispute will loom large over the other main agenda item which is a national pharmacare plan.
Horgan says he is hoping Western Canada’s premiers can have a unified voice on the issue, especially with B.C.’s track record on the issue.
“The federal government now wants to talk about a national program,” he said. “We are excited about that but we don’t want to be pushed to the side after all the work we have done here in B.C. at the provincial level and have the federal government come in and tell us how and what we are doing.”
Watch below: MP Doug Eyolfson discusses the economic impact a national pharmacare plan would have including taking the burden off private employers and possibly creating more jobs.
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