Alberta’s Notley Wants Ottawa to Take Action in BC Pipeline Dispute

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Alberta wants progress within days from Ottawa in resolving a pipeline dispute with British Columbia, or will look at further retaliatory measures.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who has already suspended talks to buy British Columbia electricity and has banned BC wines from Alberta, on Monday repeated her government’s claim that the western Canadian province’s actions on the Trans Mountain pipeline are illegal and must be reversed.

“We do not seek an escalation, but if BC continues to insist that they have rights to attack Alberta’s economy that they don’t have, we will have no choice (but) to respond,” said Notley.

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Two weeks ago, BC Premier John Horgan’s government announced it was looking at restricting expanded flows of oil into the province pending a review to make sure that such spills could be properly cleaned up.

The move would have a direct impact on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was approved in 2016 by the federal government but has faced delays and opposition in BC ever since.

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Horgan says the restriction is in keeping with the province’s responsibility to keep its coastline and waterways safe. But Notley said the Canadian constitution is clear that Ottawa has the final say on interprovincial projects like pipelines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has been meeting with BC counterparts in recent days to resolve the impasse.

Notley has suspended talks with BC to buy $500 million worth of electricity and has halted imports of BC wine, worth about $70 million a year. She said she will give the feds a little more time to resolve the issue, but not too much. “When I say we’re going to give them a little bit of space, we’re talking days, not much more than that,” Canadian Press reported.

Notley said she hasn’t ruled out more extreme options such as finding ways to restrict oil to BC or refusing to transport gas from that province, but said she doesn’t want to harm Alberta’s interests in the process. “You cut off shipments to BC, it’s Alberta’s economy that feels that more than BC’s,” she said.

Kinder Morgan Canada has approval to triple capacity on the existing Trans Mountain line, from Edmonton to Burnaby, a critical lifeline for Alberta’s, and Canada’s, oil industry due to tight pipeline capacity on the North American grid.

Trudeau’s government has said the project will proceed.

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