Alberta task force brainstorms possible actions against B.C.

Premier Rachel Notley told members of her newly created market access task force Wednesday that she was looking for legal and strategic advice on what Alberta can do if B.C. continues to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Task force includes former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley addressed members of her task force at its first meeting in Edmonton Thursday. The task force is coming up with ways to take additional action against B.C. if it continues to put up roadblocks to construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (CBC)

Premier Rachel Notley told members of her newly created market-access task force Wednesday she wants legal and strategic advice on what Alberta can do if B.C. continues to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project. 

"To make sure we can end the delays, end the games and get the Trans Mountain pipeline built," she said.

The panel, announced last week, includes former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and the former president of Syncrude Canada, Jim Carter. 

Notley asked task force members to come up with additional measures Alberta can take against B.C., if required, and to evaluate the work government officials have already undertaken. 

The battle between B.C. and Alberta started late last month when B.C. proposed it would restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments while the province studies the effects of oil spills on the B.C. coastline.

Notley has slammed the move as unconstitutional and called on the federal government to take action. The premier retaliated last week by announcing a ban on imports of B.C. wine. 

Notley said Wednesday she won't take additional action, at least for now, while the federal government tries to resolve the issue with British Columbia. 

"But make no mistake," she told members of the task force, "we are not standing still. B.C. has triggered a fight with Canada. This task force is helping us lead our response."

Fast on your feet

At the conclusion of the meeting, Carter told the media the task force had a good discussion about the options Alberta put on the table. 

"You really have to be ready to be fast on your feet and react to whatever happens," he said. "And I think the government has done a good job at really identifying the things they would put into play, depending on the outcomes."

Carter said Notley's decision to impose the wine boycott was necessary in the face of B.C.'s actions. 

Former Syncrude president Jim Carter weighs in on the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute between Alberta and B.C. after a task force meeting with Premier Rachel Notley. 1:02

"I think that was worthwhile and certainly warranted," he said.

An Alberta government petition directed at B.C. Premier John Horgan and his government has collected more than 10,000 names since it was launched on Tuesday.

The government is also encouraging people to support the pipeline to share their stories on social media and to write their MP using a pre-written form letter. 

Interviewed in Grande Prairie on Wednesday, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney renewed his call for Notley to convene an emergency sitting of the legislature to deal with the issue.

"I've told the premier I'm willing to put aside partisanship to negotiate a unanimous motion we can all support, taking the B.C. government to task, calling on the Justin Trudeau federal Liberals to step in and use their authority to stop British Columbia's threats against the pipeline," Kenney said.

"I'm willing to work with the current government constructively to present a united front."
 

with files from Zoe Todd