United Conservative leader Jason Kenney campaigns in the Alberta election, in which he took more than 60 seats to win a majority government Tuesday. (Black Press files)

B.C. braces for another round of pipeline battle with Alberta’s Jason Kenney

Premier John Horgan looks to cool dispute that’s heading back to court

With the price of gasoline already at record heights, the B.C. government has more lawyers ready to go as the long-running dispute with Alberta over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion heats up with the election of Jason Kenney.

Kenney has promised as his first act as premier to use the “turn off the taps” legislation that was passed by outgoing Alberta Premier Rachel Notley but not yet activated. That could mean blocking transport of refined fuels via the pipeline or rail cars, making B.C.’s shortage of gasoline and diesel worse.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby has already tried to have the law declared invalid, as B.C. continues to pursue its own jurisdictional case in an effort to restrict diluted bitumen transport from Alberta to the Pacific coast.

Eby said last week he has a two-part action set to go if Kenney follows through on his threat: an immediate injunction application and then discussions with Alberta to remove what he says is an obviously unconstitutional effort to restrict trade.

Kenney’s United Conservatives rolled to a comfortable majority in the Alberta election Tuesday, and the premier-elect set his sights on opponents of the project, including Horgan and the U.S.-backed environmentalists who have spent millions on court cases and blockades, working with Indigenous opponents in an effort to “land-lock” Alberta oil.

“We’ve had enough of your campaign of defamation and double standards,” Kenney shouted over the cheers of supporters Tuesday night.

READ MORE: Rachel Notley drops B.C. wine ban, says ‘B.C. blinked’

READ MORE: Notley predicts Ottawa will approve pipeline in May

Horgan said he phoned Kenney Wednesday morning to congratulate him, but didn’t attempt to discuss their pipeline dispute.

“Our brief conversation was constructive and focused on issues that matter to both Alberta and British Columbia,” Horgan said. “We agreed to talk about challenges in the days ahead.”

Horgan has downplayed the imminent arrival of Kenney, noting that he disagreed with his fellow New Democrat Notley and with other premiers who are opposed to carbon taxes on fuel. He refused to be drawn into the heated rhetoric of the campaign, where Notley and Kenney tried to outdo each other with vows to get the pipeline expansion built.

“Whoever they choose to run their government is someone that I’m going to to have to work with, and I look forward to that,” Horgan said as the B.C. legislature began its Easter break Thursday.

While he describes her as a friend, Notley proved a fierce opponent for Horgan, briefly blocking shipments of B.C. wine to Alberta and ending talks for increased electricity transmission from B.C. The wine ban was dropped after the B.C. government decided to file a reference case on crude oil regulation, rather than seek restrictions.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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