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Rachel Notley says Ottawa can use 'economic pressure' against B.C. over Trans Mountain delay

Premier Rachel Notley says Ottawa can use economic sanctions to force British Columbia to stop delaying the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Kinder Morgan said Sunday it is suspending non-essential spending on the controversial project

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley updated cabinet on the latest developments after Kinder Morgan announced Sunday it was suspending non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (CBC)

Premier Rachel Notley says Ottawa can use economic sanctions to force British Columbia to stop delaying the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Notley said in question period Monday that the federal government can use one of three strategies against B.C.'s NDP government.

'There's a carrot and stick approach...there's been a lot of carrots from the federal government to B.C.,' says the Alberta premier. 7:41

"They can put economic pressure, fiscal pressure, on to the province of B.C.," Notley said. "They can assert their jurisdiction either legislatively or through the courts."

"They can support investor certainty as we talked about doing yesterday," she added, referring to her suggestion the Alberta and federal governments obtain a financial stake in the $7.4 billion project. 

Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it is suspending "non-essential activities" and related spending for the project, citing ongoing opposition from the British Columbia government.

The company said it will consult with stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements before May 31 that could allow the project to proceed.

The government wanted to debate an emergency motion on Kinder Morgan's decision Monday afternoon, but it was pre-empted by a motion from the Official Opposition United Conservative Party to have an emergency debate on the same issue. 

Economic 'catastrophe'

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Notley said the May 31 deadline is a serious concern for Alberta but she is confident the project will get built.

She said Alberta would consider investing in the project to see it get built, an idea supported by official Opposition Leader Jason Kenney later Sunday. Kinder Morgan has also said it is open to discussing the idea.

Kenney acknowledged Monday that his position is out of character. 

"I have fought the idea of corporate welfare my whole life. I don't like the idea of putting tax dollars at risk in any kind of a private sector venture," he said.

"But I think these are truly unique circumstances. We are facing a potential catastrophe for our economic future."

Notley called on the federal government to act on Alberta's behalf and said B.C.'s continued resistance to the project will not go unanswered.

In her remarks Monday, the premier said the stakes are too high if the federal government allows its authority to be challenged by British Columbia and bends to extremists on the left and right. 

"If the voices of the moderate majority of Canadians are forgotten, the reverberations of that will tear at the fabric of Confederation for many, many years to come," she said. "So we're not going to let that happen." 

Notley said she had a "frank chat" with B.C. Premier John Horgan on Sunday. She said she told him her government will introduce legislation giving Alberta the authority to limit gas shipments to British Columbia, if required. 

"I let him know what we are doing this week," Notley said. "And we would be moving forward very aggressively."  

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would increase the capacity of oil products flowing from Edmonton to the B.C. coast at Burnaby from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000 barrels.