Bill 12, or the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, would allow the government to direct truckers, pipeline companies and rail operators on how much product could be shipped and when.
“Albertans are rightly feeling deep frustration: a sense that we’ve contributed massively to the rest of Canada, but are being blocked and pinned down at every turn,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a news conference Wednesday, citing Alberta’s role as a “have” province when it comes to transfer payments.
“We’re proud to have helped our fellow Canadians when times were tough — but now it’s Albertans who are going through a time of trial.”
Kenney said he would prefer to work in co-operation with the rest of the provinces to “move out of this period of adversity,” but if need be, the Alberta government will do whatever is necessary “to preserve the value of our resources and to stand up for our workers.”
Watch below: Alberta and B.C. are getting ready for a showdown over what’s been dubbed “turn off the taps” legislation and Premier Jason Kenney’s government has recently proclaimed. Tom Vernon reports.
If used, the province said the legislation would require any company exporting petroleum products from Alberta to acquire a licence to do so, and would impose fines for contravening the act. Violators would face penalties of up to $1 million a day for individuals and $10 million a day for corporations, the government said Tuesday.
When asked if there are plans to compensate oil companies if he turns off the taps, Kenney said he would consider the issue if the law is actually enforced.
LISTEN: University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams joins Rob Breakenridge to explain the challenges Bill 12 could face in constitutional law
Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said Kenney’s decision to put Bill 12 into law is a mistake.
“By proclaiming Bill 12 now, Premier Kenney has effectively removed the legislation from the protective fence in which it had been shielded and he has now made it vulnerable to legal challenges that could render it useless for a very long period of time,” Notley said.
“He has literally taken what could be perceived by some as a weapon and blown it up on the launch pad.”
Notley compared Kenney to a gunslinger who waves his gun around after intentionally taking the bullets out.
The former premier said there “is a good argument to be made” against the bill in court, although Notley said she does not know if it will be successful.
“We worked very carefully when we crafted Bill 12 and that the government of Alberta – now of course represented by Mr. Kenney – has the authority to do what Bill 12 says it’s going to do, but we also know it is something the courts are going to look at and they will take some time to consider,” Notley said.
“We also know when B.C. tried to take it before the courts, they couldn’t because it wasn’t proclaimed yet, now they will be doing that.”
Notley said as soon as that happens, B.C. will be able to get an injunction immediately.
WATCH BELOW: Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley worried the proclamation of Bill 12 will ultimately render it useless.
Kenney said proclaiming the law shows Canada that Alberta is serious, saying the government doesn’t plan to act upon Bill 12 immediately — instead, proclaiming it gives the province the power to turn off the flow of oil and gas to B.C. if needed.
“Our government wants to co-operate with British Columbia. To that end, I spoke with Premier Horgan last night and indicated I hope we’ll have a chance to meet in the near future to discuss these issues at length.”
WATCH BELOW: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he wants to first seek common ground with British Columbia and the federal government on energy issues.
B.C. has already tried to challenge Bill 12 as unconstitutional. However, last year a judge rejected the suit, telling the province that it could not challenge a law that was not yet in place.
Industry analysts have predicted using the law could push Metro Vancouver’s already surging gas prices above $2 per litre.
Kenney said the western province is in the midst of a “gasoline crisis,” adding B.C stands to benefit from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The existing pipeline has carried crude oil, refined and semi-refined products to the Lower Mainland since 1953.
“Just as the Trans Mountain pipeline has benefited all Canadians, but British Columbians more than most — opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline hurts all Canadians, but British Columbians more than most.”
Kenney noted the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been approved by the federal cabinet and National Energy Board, subject to further Indigenous consultation.
Kenney he also talked about a campaign to landlock Alberta’s resources, which he claimed has resulted in pipeline project failures, high unemployment, bankruptcies and insolvencies.
Diluted bitumen accounts for the majority of Alberta’s oil exports, the province said. In 2017, Alberta produced 1.6 million barrels a day of diluted bitumen and a further one million barrels a day of synthetic crude oil refined from oil sands production.
WATCH BELOW: Coverage of Premier Jason Kenney’s news conference about restricting energy exports
— With files from Simon Little, Global News