Trans Mountain CEO calls on federal government to act in pipeline dispute

Ian Anderson. Image: Kinder Morgan Canada

CALGARY — The head of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. has joined growing calls for the federal government to step into the dispute between Alberta and British Columbia over oil exports.

Ian Anderson said Wednesday that he's pleased to hear strong and continuous words of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the company's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, but that at some point the federal government will have to act.

“I'm expecting the federal government to help solve this dispute between the provinces. I think there's a role there for them,” he said.

“I think that asserting their federal jurisdiction in whatever manner they determine is most effective and most appropriate is something I'll be looking for, so that we get past the words of support, to the actions of support that we're all chasing hard.”

The federal government is also feeling pressure from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who has called for federal support in a dispute she says is between B.C. and Canada, not B.C. and Alberta.

Trudeau refused to wade publicly into the dispute Wednesday, saying talks continue behind closed doors with the provinces.

“We're continuing to discuss and engage with the B.C. government, with the Alberta government,” the prime minister before his weekly caucus meeting. “We're making sure we come to the right place that's in the national interest for Canada.

“We're going to continue to engage with the premiers on a regular basis.”

Trudeau's comments come a day after Notley ramped up pressure on the issue by banning B.C. wine imports, following an earlier announcement to halt electricity talks with B.C., in protest of the province's plan to limit increases of diluted bitumen shipments.

Anderson applauded Alberta's support, and said he had sent a letter Tuesday to B.C. Premier John Horgan about his concerns for the province's plans.

``We are calling on the premier to think very serious about the severity of the actions and the path that they're undertaking here. I don't think anyone is missing the agenda that they're pursuing.''

B.C. has said it is restricting increased diluted bitumen shipments as a safety issue and wants to limit shipments until it better understands the impacts of a spill and that shippers will be able to clean one up. But the policy creates significant uncertainty for the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain project that would close to triple the capacity of the pipeline system.

In a statement on Facebook, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said that while his province supports Alberta in its fight, he doesn't think the dispute will be solved by trade measures that have an impact on consumers and private businesses.

“While we have previously stated that Saskatchewan will support Alberta in defending against this attack on our energy industry, Saskatchewan has no plans to participate in retaliatory measures that would be in contravention of our trade commitments.

“We do not believe this matter will be resolved by trade measures that will primarily impact consumers and private businesses.”

© 2018 The Canadian Press