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Toolbox or toy box? Alta. politicians gloat over pipeline ruling
The battle over the massive expansion of oil shipments to the B.C. coast isn't over, but that hasn't stopped Alberta politicians from celebrating Friday's court victory.
Shortly after the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled the province has no right to regulate oil transports, Rachel Notley added insult to injury with a barb seizing on Premier John Horgan's promise to use "every tool in the toolbox" to fight the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.
"It turned out his toolbox was Fisher Price, not DeWalt," Notley told reporters. "Meanwhile this is good news for people who use real toolboxes all across the country."
Notley, who briefly banned B.C. wine during her term as Alberta premier, also argued the decision should be a boost for investor confidence in Alberta.
Alberta's current premier, Jason Kenney, was less provocative, but did praise the court's decision as "a significant defeat from the forces of obstruction that are trying to land-lock our energy."
"We're delighted with the unanimous decision," Kenney told reporters in Toronto Friday. "This is an affirmation that Canada is an economic union and that one province can't block another province's resources."
The B.C. government has already vowed to push its reference case to the Supreme Court of Canada – where Horgan said he expected it to end up all along.
While the Court of Appeal found B.C. has no constitutional right to regulate heavy oil or diluted bitumen flowing through a federal pipeline, Horgan argued the province's environmental concerns "weren't contemplated when our constitution was developed, initially back in the terms of Confederation and recently in the 1980s when the constitution was repatriated."
"These are areas of law that need to be defined," Horgan said Friday. "Our objective from the beginning was to protect B.C.'s land, water and people. And we were very concerned, of course, about the transportation of diluted bitumen and deleterious substances through British Columbia without any ability to manage that through our environmental management processes."
Horgan said he's planning to meet with Kenney in early June to discuss the way forward.
Even if the case is unsuccessful, pipeline opponents have signaled they have no intention of making things easy for Ottawa to see the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project through to completion.
Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee said there are still other "tools in the toolbox" for the provincial government to use – and for everyday British Columbians.
"Even if this project gets its permits, there are still thousands of British Columbians willing to stand in the way," McCartney said. "We've seen that already. We've had over 200 arrests just at Burnaby Mountain for pre-construction work, so it's going to be a long, hot summer if this pipeline goes forward."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Jon Woodward and Mel Nagy