EDMONTON, AB. (NEWS 1130) – It took several hours but the Alberta government has struck a major blow to Victoria.
It still requires Royal Assent, but provincial government has passed Bill 12, giving it the power to cut off oil supply to BC.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hasn’t said how soon her government would do that, saying it could be within a day or sometime later.
Earlier today, Premier John Horgan said if the bill was approved, his government would sue.
Horgan accused the federal government of unnecessarily putting taxpayers money at risk on Wednesday by offering financial protection for Kinder Morgan’s investors in the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute.
Horgan said he is trying to protect the province’s interests by joining two legal cases over the project and asking the BC Court of Appeal whether the province has the right to preserve its environment through a permitting system for hazardous substances that are transported inside its borders.
“The federal government today is announcing it will spend public dollars to shore up a private company that knew the risks of proceeding with their project when they signed on,” said Horgan.
“I made it abundantly clear that I believe it’s not in our best interest to put at risk our marine economy and marine environment.”
Earlier today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the federal government is willing to offer an “indemnity” to help ease the political risks for any investors to ensure the pipeline expansion can proceed.
Horgan insists blaming BC for the pipeline impasse is focusing on the wrong target.
“The prime minister called me back to Ottawa (last month) and said we were going to do something, and I said, ‘Fair enough, do what you like,’ and today I guess we’re getting the first step of that,” says Horgan. “It seems to me it’s mostly rhetoric and hyperbole instead of substance British Columbians and Canadians can grab on to.”
He challenged Ottawa to act on the pipeline.
“Either you are going to do something federal government or you’re not,” said Horgan. “Wanting to demonize me, that’s fine, that’s politics.”
Earlier in Vancouver, Horgan said his approach on the pipeline reflects what he said he would do during last year’s provincial election campaign.
“I’m defending the interests of British Columbia,” he said. “I’m not causing any risks.”
Horgan said the province asked the federal government to take part in a reference case to Supreme Court of Canada, but it declined so his government went ahead on its own reference case at the BC Court of Appeal to determine its jurisdiction.
Asked how Morneau’s statement might impact the future of the pipeline, Horgan replied: “I’m not a seer. I don’t know what the future holds. Mr. Morneau will do what he wants to do.”
BC Environment Minister George Heyman said Morneau’s willingness to back the pipeline project was inappropriate and will likely provoke concerns about using tax dollars to support private ventures.
“Mr. Morneau appears more concerned in indemnifying a foreign corporation against risk to its investors than indemnifying British Columbia against the risk to our coast, to our environment, to tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan’s position on the pipeline is now placing taxpayers’ money at risk through the federal commitment.
“Instead of the private sector paying to build this pipeline, taxpayers will now be responsible for cleaning up Horgan’s mess,” he said in a news release.The move is meant to put even more pressure on the BC government to allow the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to move forward.
“Yes, pipeline. No, tax dollars,” says Surrey Board of Trade
The Surrey Board of Trade is speaking out about the controversial project.
Although the federal government’s announcement has raised concerns, CEO Anita Huberman says the board is maintaining their support.
“Despite the BC government’s decision to further review and consult on the pipeline expansion, the Surrey Board of Trade continues their support of the Kinder Morgan Expansion Project with the development of 15,000 jobs, mostly in the trades,” says Huberman.
“However, the Canadian government should not be using taxpayer money to compensate for project delays and to indemnify financial losses.”
She also worries the federal funding could set a bad precedent for future infrastructure projects in the country.
The board says it has extensively reviewed Kinder Morgan’s commitment to ensure the pipeline be built, claiming it’ll not only meet but also exceed the most stringent conditions.
“Further, the Surrey Board of Trade believes the reviews that have already taken place which include a focus on environmental protections such as the 157 binding conditions by the National Energy Board as well as the investments in the Ocean Protection Plan, serve to address environmental and other concerns related to the project. Moving crude oil by rail through suburbs has proved to be far more hazardous than using state-of-the art technology in pipelines.”
Kinder Morgan has suspended all non-essential activities and spending related to the project. It also previously issued an ultimatum to Ottawa outlining its financial needs. The company wants the project to be given a green light by the BC, Alberta and federal governments by no later than May 31st as it seeks financial security.