Notley wants MLAs to debate importance of Trans Mountain expansion

Premier Rachel Notley will introduce a motion in the legislature on Monday so that MLAs can debate the importance of the Trans Mountain pipeline to Alberta’s economy.

Brian Mason says goal is 'a clear statement of the legislative assembly's determination on this matter'

Premier Rachel Notley will introduce a motion in the legislature Monday on the importance of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to Alberta's economy. (CBC)

Premier Rachel Notley will introduce a motion in the legislature on Monday so MLAs can debate the importance of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to Alberta's economy.

"All members of the House will be given a chance to express confidence in our efforts to get this vital project underway," government House leader Brian Mason said at a news conference Wednesday.

"The premier is doing a lot of heavy lifting on this file … so now is the time for all members of the House to stand and be counted and show just how important an issue this is to the economic well-being not just Alberta, but to Canada as a whole."

The pipeline carries diluted bitumen and other products from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. The $7.4-billion expansion project would nearly triple its capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

The project won federal government approval in 2016 but the B.C. government created uncertainty last month when it called for further review of the oil-spill risk.

In retaliation, Notley announced Alberta would boycott all B.C. wines. The boycott was later lifted.

The wording of the motion is:

"BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Legislative Assembly support the Government of Alberta's fight on behalf of Albertans' interests to ensure the lawfully approved Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is built;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Legislative Assembly call for the federal government to continue to take all necessary legal steps in support of the pipeline's construction;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Legislative Assembly reaffirm its support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion as a key component of Alberta's energy future."

Not a trap 

The house leader of the Official Opposition United Conservative Party, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon, sent a letter to Mason Wednesday afternoon asking to discuss the motion so the wording is "mutually agreeable." 

He noted UCP Leader Jason Kenney asked Notley to reconvene the legislature last month so MLAs could debate the pipeline issue.

"While it was disappointing to see the government dismiss our offer nearly a month ago, we are again happy to see that the government has come around to our arguments," Nixon wrote. 

"I would like to reassure you that our offer to discuss the matter in good faith still stands. We are optimistic that both parties can easily come to an agreement on wording."

Alberta Party house leader Greg Clark says it is likely the caucus will support the motion, but they want to discuss it first. 

"I welcome the debate, I'm glad to have it,' Clark said. "I'm encouraged by some of the actions the (New Democrats) have taken on this file. Not convinced they've done enough soon enough, but it's a start.

"So we'll have to talk to caucus before we decide which way we're going to vote."

When asked about the motion earlier Wednesday, Mason denied it is a political trap designed to make the Official Opposition look bad

"I don't think that's a fair characterization," Mason said. "We want to present to the country, and to Albertans, a clear statement of the legislative assembly's determination on this matter."

Wednesday's news conference was about the government's agenda for the spring session, which starts Thursday with a throne speech.

Mason said the government expects to introduce 15 bills this session, including proposed legislation to diversify the energy sector and make electricity more affordable.