B.C. threatens to sue Alberta as all sides in Trans Mountain dispute dig in

British Columbia's attorney general is threatening to sue if a new law introduced in Alberta causes gasoline prices in B.C. to skyrocket.

Alberta legislation that could hike gas prices may be unconstitutional, B.C. attorney general says

Attorney General David Eby says it's unconstitutional for one province to use energy policy to punish another province. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

British Columbia's attorney general is threatening to sue if a new law introduced in Alberta causes gasoline prices in B.C. to skyrocket.

David Eby says it's unconstitutional for one province to use energy policy to punish another province, and B.C. is prepared to take legal action against Alberta.

"If there is anything in this legislation that even suggests the possibility of discrimination against British Columbians we will take every step necessary to protect the interests of British Columbians," Eby said.

The Alberta government introduced legislation that would allow for the restriction of oil, gasoline and natural gas leaving that province, which could cause fuel prices in B.C. to jump.

The legislation does not mention B.C., but Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it could be used to put pressure on the province if the B.C. government doesn't change its stance on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Pump prices could spike

If Alberta were to restrict fuel exports to B.C., the impact would soon be felt, said Mark Jaccard, a professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser university.

"It's true that most of the gasoline that we're getting in our cars in southwestern British Columbia is coming from Alberta one way or another," he said.

But  Jaccard doesn't expect a full on embargo.

"Some of this is posturing right now for home audiences," he said. "I think in the long run it's not in Alberta's interest to lose an important customer.

Any interruption in the fuel supply from Alberta could send already high gas prices in B.C. above $2 per litre, said Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst with Gasbuddy.com.

"Over a period of time the price would rise by leaps and bounds of 10 cents a litre, depending of course on the severity of the cutback," he said.

The B.C. government will now take time to review the legislation before deciding on a course of action, Eby said.

Eby's comments come as those for and against the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion dig in, including Indigenous Peoples, business leaders, protesters and politicians.

Pipeline owner, Kinder Morgan, has suspended all non-essential spending on the $7.4 billion project, as the federal government tries to reassure the company's investors by May 31 that the project will move forward, despite opposition from the B.C. government.

B.C. Premier John Horgan, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Sunday in Ottawa, with Trudeau saying the federal government is preparing to hold private, financial talks with Kinder Morgan to ensure the pipeline's completion.

With files from The Canadian Press and Greg Rasmussen, Megan Thomas

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