B.C. Attorney General David Eby says the Alberta government’s new legislation, which would give the province’s energy minister the power to restrict the flow of oil, gasoline and natural gas to destinations outside the province, is a “bluff.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Eby said B.C. is now considering its legal options.
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“We have looked at the bill that was tabled in the legislature in Alberta and we believe that the bill is unconstitutional on its face,” Eby said.
“We also believe that, in the context of the remarks made by the government of Alberta that they intend to use the legislation to try and force British Columbia to give up its jurisdiction to regulate the pipeline, it is even more unconstitutional. Clearly, the legislation is a bluff and they don’t intend to use it.”
The Alberta government introduced the legislation in Edmonton on Monday. If passed, the new law would allow the energy minister to direct truckers, pipeline companies and rail operators on how much product could be shipped and when. Violators would face fines of up to $1 million a day for individuals and $10 million a day for corporations.
LISTEN: Has British Columbia done anything to warrant Alberta’s threat to cut off its oil supplies?
The proposed legislation comes while B.C. and Alberta continue to feud over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The project would see nearly three times as much bitumen shipped by pipeline a day from north of Edmonton to Burnaby. The federally approved expansion would also see a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic off B.C.’s coast.
WATCH HERE: Natural Resources Minister argues Trans Mountain has policies opposition should agree with
Eby says his government now has three options. It can present a reference case on why Alberta’s legislation is unlawful; wait until the Alberta bill to get Royal Assent and challenge it then; or wait until Alberta hypothetically enacts the legislation and shuts down the flow of oil and gas to B.C.
“If they did try to use it, we would be in court immediately seeking an injunction to stop them from using it,” Eby said. “But we would probably have to get in line behind oil companies that would be concerned about contracts they have with companies in British Columbia to deliver product. I just don’t understand a circumstance where this legislation will be used.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan says he was assured by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Sunday that Alberta has no immediate plans on using the powers in the proposed legislation.
Horgan was once again questioned about the ongoing dispute in Question Period on Tuesday. Horgan told the legislature that University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach has called the legislation a dangerous precedent.
“Even the people of Alberta see this as a cockamamie way to do business by cutting off your nose to spite your face,” Horgan said.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced his government plans on tabling similar legislation as Alberta in “the next number of days.”
— With files from the Canadian Press
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