British Columbia

B.C. ready if Alberta attempts to turn off the fuel taps, says David Eby

In the tit-for-tat over the Trans Mountain expansion project, B.C.'s attorney general responds to Jason Kenney's threat to restrict oil and gas exports to B.C. if elected as premier of Alberta.

B.C. Attorney General responds to aspiring Alberta premier's threat to restrict oil and gas flows to B.C.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says British Columbia will react swiftly if Alberta enacts 'turn of the taps' legislation that would restrict oil and gas exports into British Columbia. (CBC)

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says B.C. will react with an immediate injunction if Jason Kenney, who is vying to become the next premier of Alberta, attempts to follow through on his threat to "turn off the taps" and prevent Alberta oil and gas from flowing to B.C.

 "If it's necessary, we'll be in the courts to defend the interests of British Columbians, and we can be in court right away to do that," said Eby.

The Alberta threat is retaliation for the B.C. government's attempt to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Kenney, the front-runner in the the April 16 Alberta provincial election, announced yesterday at a rally in Medicine Hat that he would immediately enact the fuel-limiting legislation known as Bill 12, if elected.

"We'll turn it into a real law, indicating to the New Democrats in Victoria that if they block our energy, we are prepared to use that," he said. "And with gas prices in Vancouver today pushing $1.70 a litre, this is a very strong point of leverage."

Steel pipe to be used in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project sits on rail cars in Kamloops. The plan to twin the existing 1,150 kilometre-long pipeline has been indefinitely suspended. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

But Eby says he'd ask the courts for an immediate injunction, if it came to that.

"I've heard Mr. Kenney's comments on the campaign trail ... certainly, I hope he'd take the approach of having conversations with provinces that they have disagreements with rather than taking any rash reactions in what we believe is [B.C.'s] constitutional action," he said.

Alberta's Bill 12

Bill 12 would allow Alberta to restrict oil and gas shipments to B.C. by requiring exporters to obtain licences.

It also gives Alberta's energy minister the power to decide how much fuel is exported, how it's transported — by pipeline, rail or tanker truck — and whether direct shipments should be stopped altogether.

It was introduced by the Alberta NDP last year and was given royal assent but has not yet come into effect. 

The bill was the subject of a lawsuit brought forward by the B.C. government challenging its constitutionality. The challenge was rejected because the judge hearing the case said B.C. should have waited until the bill came into force.