​Alberta premier spells out retaliation in ‘frank chat’ with B.C. premier

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says British Columbia's opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline threatens the rule of law in Canada and says she made it clear in a phone call to B.C. Premier John Horgan that her province is retaliating.

Notley says they had what she called a “very frank chat.”

She says she is also introducing legislation this week to give Alberta the power to reduce oil flows to B.C., which could send gas prices in the province soaring.

Notley's comments after Kinder Morgan announced Sunday it was scaling back work on the Trans Mountain pipeline, saying opposition from the B.C. government puts the project at risk.

B.C. is fighting the multibillion-dollar expansion with legal challenges and permit delays over concern about oil spills and coastline protection.

B.C. Premier John Horgan showed no signs Monday of backing down, rejecting widespread claims his government's challenge of the $7.4 billion project is hurting the economy and tearing apart the country.

"One investment project does not an economy make," said Horgan, adding B.C. has the lowest jobless rate in Canada and a solid credit rating.

"All of a sudden when the shareholders in Texas issue a press release there's a constitutional crisis...What we're talking about here is the province of B.C. going to court to assert our jurisdiction and protect the interests of British Columbians. We said in an election campaign a year ago this is what we would do."

Horgan said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Sunday and told both leaders to build more oil refineries instead of pipelines.

"That would be leadership," he said.

Kinder Morgan has given a deadline of May 31 for a clear signal that the Trans Mountain project can proceed.

Notley said the federal government needs to step up with concrete action.

“If the federal government allows its authority to be challenged in this way, if the national interest is given over to the extremes on the left or the right, and if the voices of the moderate majority of Canadians are forgotten, the reverberations of that will tear at the fabric of Confederation for many, many years to come,” she said.

The project would triple the amount of oil shipped from Alberta to B.C.

Notley says the expansion is critical to getting oil to overseas markets and fetching a better price. Right now, Alberta oil is effectively confined to North American markets and sells at a comparative discount due to shipping bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, federal Conservatives say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau missed a huge opportunity to save the Trans Mountain pipeline last week when he failed to meet with British Columbia Premier John Horgan.

Trudeau's trip to B.C. last Thursday included a stop at the Canadian Coast Guard offices where he discussed the balance needed between environmental protection and natural resource development as pipeline protesters looked on.

Although the event was just over one kilometre from the B.C. legislature, no meeting with Horgan was planned — something Conservative MP Chris Warkentin says should have been a priority.

Warkentin says Trudeau should immediately demand a meeting with Horgan if he is really serious about actually getting the Trans Mountain pipeline built.

Trudeau was also criticized last summer when his first meeting with Horgan following the B.C. premier's June election purposely did not focus on the pipeline, which Horgan has vowed to do everything he can to stop.

B.C.'s opposition, including a threat to bar any additional oil from flowing through B.C., was cited Sunday by Kinder Morgan as the main reason it was suspending all non-essential spending and activities on the pipeline.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

Image: Alberta premier Rachel Notley addresses cabinet and the media following Kinder Morgan's announcement on Monday, April 9. Image: Government of Alberta

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