B.C. premier has 'full and frank' conversations with western premiers but no consensus on pipeline
B.C. Premier John Horgan says "full and frank" conversations were had with his western counterparts at meetings in Yellowknife on a number of interprovincial issues, despite the continuing dispute with Alberta over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The premiers gathered to discuss shared priorities such as pharmacare, infrastructure, justice and community safety.
"We did make great progress on a range of other issues that are of importance to British Columbians and Western Canadians," Horgan said.
But the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute still cast a shadow over the meetings.
The premiers issued a communique highlighting their priorities following the meetings, but Alberta declined to sign on over a lack of consensus on its position that the pipeline must be built.
"My message on every item in the agenda is that you can't talk about ways to spend money without talking about how we are going to grow the Canadian economy," said Alberta Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman.
Alberta Premier skips meeting
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pulled out of the conference on Monday saying she could be more productive at home as the days count down to Kinder Morgan's deadline.
The company suspended all non-essential spending on the $7.4-billion project citing opposition from the B.C. government. It has said it will make a decision on whether to continue with construction by May 31.
The federal government is also working to negotiate a deal that would indemnify Kinder Morgan against the political risk the project is currently facing.
On Tuesday, Notley said B.C. could ease escalating tensions over the project by agreeing to abide by a pending B.C. Court of Appeal ruling on its reference case.
Legal wrangling continues
B.C. is seeking a court decision on whether it has the jurisdiction to limit expanded shipments of heavy oil through the province on environmental grounds.
In response, Alberta passed legislation last week that could effectively choke off the supply of gasoline to B.C. Then on Tuesday, B.C. sued Alberta over that legislation, which it contends is unconstitutional.
Speaking Wednesday in Yellowknife, Horgan left the option open to take B.C.'s reference case to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.
"We are in court and we are awaiting the outcome of those proceedings," he said. "Then we will make other decisions at that time."