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'You are being sued': B.C. taking Alberta to court over law that could cut gas exports
Published Wednesday, May 1, 2019 8:57AM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 1, 2019 3:54PM PDT
The B.C. government is taking steps to block Alberta legislation that gives the province the power to restrict oil exports to the West Coast.
Just hours after Alberta's newly elected cabinet proclaimed Bill 12, B.C. filed court action against it.
In a statement of claim obtained by CTV News Vancouver, the notice to Alberta's attorney general was simple: "You are being sued." Scroll down or click here to read the statement of claim.
B.C. Premier John Horgan addressed media in Victoria Wednesday morning, saying the decision followed a "respectful and diplomatic conversation" with Alberta's new premier.
Horgan said they'd spoken Tuesday night, and agreed to keep lines of communication open.
"He did advise me that they were going to proceed with enacting and proclaiming Bill 12 – their bill to restrict the flow of oil and gas products to British Columbia," Horgan said.
"He said that he had no plans to use the bill, but felt as it was a key election commitment, that he would proceed with it."
It's a message Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also conveyed to the public earlier on Wednesday. Kenney said he intended to "seek the path of diplomacy" before following through on his threat to turn off the taps.
"I always say Albertans are fair people. We play by the rules, but we expect others to play by the same rules," Kenney said.
Two actions against Bill 12
Still, B.C.'s lawyers filed two actions in court to strike down the bill, claiming it is unconstitutional. The request for injunction is scheduled to be heard in court on May 7.
"If there is no intent to use it, this is not, I believe, a provocative action, but one to safe-guard the interests of British Columbia in the long term," Horgan said.
The statement of claim argues Alberta doesn't have the right to restrict crude oil, natural gas and refined fuels. It suggests the purpose of the act was to "give the Alberta Government the ability to threaten or punish British Columbia for political or policy positions."
In addition to fighting what he called an action to "impair trade between two jurisdictions," Horgan said the provincial government should have the right to determine what flows through it.
"What we're in court doing is asserting our right to regulate products that move within British Columbia, not just by pipeline but by rail, by other mechanisms. I believe that's in the interests of our marine environment, our natural environment, that British Columbian would have a say what comes in and what comes out," he said.
The B.C. leader said he told Kenney during their call that his job is to protect and defend his province.
"I expect him to do the same," Horgan said.
The Alberta premier described the conversation as respectful, and said the two leaders would be meeting for a longer discussion soon.
Horgan said he was "heartened" by Kenney's openness to meeting within the next month and continuing the conversation.
'Obstructions' to Trans Mountain
But Kenney warned that Albertans would not tolerate any "obstruction" in getting the long-delayed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built. He stopped short of specifying what actions might prompt his government to pinch B.C.'s energy supply, however.
"When you're in a game of poker, you don't show the other folks around the table what your high card is," Kenney said. "We're going to play the long game here."
Kenney suggested the pipeline delays are partly responsible for the record-high gas prices seen in B.C., and presented the Trans Mountain project as a means of easing the financial burden on motorists.
"British Columbians benefit from the Trans Mountain pipeline. It's the way most B.C. gasoline is delivered," he said.
"Opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline hurts all Canadians, but British Columbians more than most."
Horgan responded to the claims a few hours later.
"When it comes to the issues of issuing of permits for the TMX project, of the 1,182 permits required, British Columbia has issued 309, and we will continue to do so as the applications come forward," he said.
"At no time over the past two years have we disrupted or delayed the permitting process in any way beyond those delays that would be required to protect the interests of British Columbia."
Background on Bill 12
Bill 12 was passed by Alberta's former NDP government, but proclaimed. Former premier Rachel Notley said it would be foolish to activate the law without using it, because that would open it up for a possible legal challenge from B.C.
Earlier this month, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said lawyers were ready to take Alberta to court as soon as the law was enacted. B.C. previously tried to challenge the legislation in court only to be told the action was premature.
An affidavit states British Columbians use between 70,000 and 85,000 barrels of gasoline, and between 55,000 and 70,000 barrels of diesel each day.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and The Canadian Press
Below is the full statement of claim. Viewing this on our mobile beta site? Tap here for a compatible version.