Alberta has refused to ask the courts to rule on the legality of a bill that would let it restrict the flow of oil to British Columbia, so B.C. will force the matter by filing a legal challenge to the bill.
“We are disappointed that the government of Alberta has rejected our proposal to refer their legislation to the courts,” B.C. Attorney General David Eby said in a statement distributed to reporters in Victoria Thursday. “We will now move forward and challenge the constitutional validity of Bill 12 in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta by next week.”
The bill and legal challenge are the latest developments in the battle over the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, which the B.C. government opposes and Alberta and the federal government support.
Eby wrote to Kathleen Ganley, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, on Wednesday encouraging her to refer the Preserving Canada’s Prosperity Act to the Alberta courts to assess its constitutionality.
Eby told reporters he also wanted to make it clear that B.C. will pursue damages if Alberta uses its bill to punish British Columbians.
Ganley responded with a letter to Eby saying Alberta is confident in its position.
“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure Alberta is able to maximize the value it receives for the resources it owns,” she said. “With pipeline capacity stretched to the limit and the price differential taking billions of dollars out of our economy, Albertans have the right to choose how our resources are shipped so that Alberta obtains the best return possible.”
B.C. has been trying to “sow legal confusion” and “harass the pipeline investors into abandoning the project,” Ganley wrote.
Alberta is committed to “protecting Alberta’s interests, and those of all Canadians when it comes to the country's economic prosperity,” she said.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has argued that his government is within its rights to stand up for B.C.’s environment, economy and coast against the threat of a bitumen spill.