Swearing in: Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives take over Alberta government

Pablo Tucker
May 4, 2019

"The effect of that is prices are going up", said Horgan.

Kenney had said the first order of business would be to proclaim into law a bill that gives Alberta the power to cut oil shipments to British Columbia in response to that province's opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is warning that if a federal bill overhauling environmental assessments passes in its current form, it will threaten Canadian unity and there will be "an immediate constitutional challenge". Kenney said he meant to "seek the path of diplomacy" before following through on his threat to turn off the taps.

On Wednesday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna added steam-driven oilsands facilities to the list of projects that are subject to federal environmental reviews, but said it will exempt those same projects on the condition that Alberta keeps certain environmental policies in place.

"We will look at other ways of responding before we get to this strongest tool in our toolbox", Kenney said.

Shortly after Kenney's comments, lawyers for B.C. filed legal paperwork signaling plans to fight Alberta's law on grounds that it's unconstitutional.

"This hurts ordinary families in British Columbia, this hurts Alberta".

Alberta is home to Canada's vast oil sands but has struggled with a lackluster economy since the 2014-15 global oil price crash, as well as steep discounts on its crude because of congestion on oil export pipelines.

"This bill does not need a nip and tuck", Kenney told senators.

"I expect him to do the same", Horgan said. What Premier Horgan must know is that Albertans are absolutely united behind this pipeline.

Horgan said he was "heartened" by Kenney's openness to meeting within the next month and continuing the conversation. He stopped short of specifying what actions might prompt his government to pinch B.C.'s energy supply, however. "We're going to play the long game here".

Critics say the cap was part of a deal in exchange for Ottawa's approval of the Trans Mountain expansion.

"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.

Kenney wants all the amendments proposed by the former NDP government in Alberta accepted, including a hard two-year time limit for the whole process, less room for interference by federal ministers, and an exemption for in-situ oil sands projects in Alberta that are now reviewed by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

He said he supports former NDP Premier Rachel Notley's proposed amendments to the bill.

Still, analysts don't believe that proclaiming Alberta's law is a wasted effort.

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.

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