Kenney says if premier, he'd enact turn-off-the-taps legislation at first cabinet meeting
Rachel Notley says enacting that legislation too soon 'would be like blowing the weapon up on the launchpad'
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says if he wins the election, he would enact into law the NDP's turn-off-the-taps legislation at his first cabinet meeting.
Kenney made the announcement in front of hundreds of supporters at a Medicine Hat rally on Monday.
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"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."
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Bill 12 would allow Alberta to restrict oil and gas shipments to B.C. if that province continues to stand in the way of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX).
Specifically it requires exporters to obtain licences, and 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.
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It was introduced by the NDP and was given royal assent last year but has not yet come into force.
Kenney said the bill was part of the NDP's "fake fight" for Alberta's energy industry and that there was no intention to enact it.
Not effective strategy, Notley says
NDP Leader Rachel Notley disputed the notion enacting the bill would be an effective strategy this spring.
"Jason Kenney needs some tactical advice on the current delay on TMX. This project is stalled because of Jason Kenney's [former federal] Conservative government and Justin Trudeau's Liberal government. The federal government must now fix those errors," Notley said in a statement.
"We have always said we would use Bill 12 if B.C.'s action were causing the delay, but that's not what's happening right now. Enacting Bill 12 now would be like blowing the weapon up on the launchpad. Once again, Jason Kenney has shown that playing politics is more important than just getting the job done."
B.C. legal challenge
The bill was the subject of a lawsuit brought forward by the B.C. government challenging the constitutionality of the legislation. That challenge was rejected because the judge hearing the case said B.C. should have waited until the bill came into force.
Kenney said turning off the taps would have a "short-term impact" on the economy, but that "we need a government that thinks about the long-term strategic interests of the Alberta economy."
A firm date for a federal government decision on TMX remains elusive. The project secured regulatory approval from the National Energy Board on Feb. 22, which started a 90-day clock for the federal government to either approve or kill the taxpayer-owned project.
However, the federal government has said it may need more time to decide due to ongoing, court-mandated consultations. Earlier Monday, Notley said she was confident it would be approved soon because she understood consultations were going well.
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With files from Helen Pike