'No province can impinge on the national interest,' Jim Carr says as Alberta-B.C. pipeline feud simmers
Federal natural resources minister says B.C. free to consult, but decision to allow Trans Mountain stands
British Columbia will not be allowed to stand in the way of the completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project that Ottawa believes is in the national interest, the federal natural resources minister said Thursday in Calgary.
At an event to announce Ottawa's new streamlined approval process for major natural resources projects, Jim Carr said B.C. is free to engage in consultations as it sees fit.
But it can't change the fact that Kinder Morgan's project — which would nearly triple capacity of the current pipeline system to 890,000 barrels a day — has the federal stamp of approval, he said in Calgary.
The B.C. government said last week it is considering restricting any increase in diluted bitumen shipments from Alberta to B.C. until it conducts more spill response studies.
"We've done our consulting. We consulted with literally tens of thousands of Canadians," Carr said.
"On the question of jurisdiction, no province can impinge on the national interest. That is the role of the Government of Canada."
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley denounced B.C.'s proposed new restrictions as unconstitutional.
Alberta quickly retaliated by suspending talks to buy B.C. electricity and then escalated the fight, announcing this week that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will halt the importation of wine from B.C. producers.
The $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project was approved by the federal government in 2016.
Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said Carr and the federal government are sending the right message.
"The more they can repeat that on a daily, weekly basis to give Canadians confidence, investors confidence, that Canada is a place where the rule of law matters, is good," he said.
Both Notley and Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. CEO Ian Anderson have called on the federal government to ensure the project gets built.
Carr said Ottawa has already intervened on delays through the National Energy Board, which exempted Kinder Morgan from some delayed permits in Burnaby, B.C., and approved a dispute resolution process for future permitting issues.
He said the federal government continues to talk with the provinces, including meetings Thursday between officials from Ottawa and deputy ministers in B.C., but that no specific intervention is yet necessary from B.C.'s proposed consultations.
"They haven't done anything yet. They're consulting."
With files from The Canadian Press