Q&A

'Investors wondering who's actually in charge': Rachel Notley on Alberta-B.C. pipeline battle

As the battle between Alberta and B.C. ramps up, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sat down with CBC Calgary News at Six to lay out her approach and what she’d like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do about the rift.

Alberta premier lays out her next steps and what she'd like the feds to do

Rachel Notley on Alberta-B.C. pipeline battle 7:51

The B.C. government wants a review of the catastrophic-spill risk from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, it announced last week, which could cause delays.

Alberta shot back saying B.C. electricity talks were now off the table.

As the battle ramps up, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sat down with CBC Calgary News at Six to lay out her approach and what she'd like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do about the rift.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen to the complete interview right here.


Q: What are your next steps in this conflict?

A: We are still talking to a lot of folks to come up with our best options. Last week we indicated that our view is that the actions of the B.C. government amount to a direct run at the economy and the jobs of Albertans, and quite frankly of all Canadians and we are not going to stand for it.

We would be suspending all conversations about electricity trade in southern Alberta, which is worth up to half a billion dollars for the people of British Columbia.

In the meantime we are continuing to consider other options, both legal and trade-based, and we will have more on that in the next few days.

Q: What else do you have at your disposal?

A: The federal government needs to step up and make it very clear to British Columbia that this kind of attack on their authority is not going to be allowed to stand.

This isn't an issue between Alberta and B.C., this is actually an issue between Canada and B.C.

Speaking from the perspective of British Columbians, they have a strong relationship with the federal government. They rely on the federal government to be good partners so the federal government needs to make it very clear that this kind of harassment of investors will not be allowed to stand.

There is not a uniform opinion on this in British Columbia. A lot of folks understand that economic growth is good for all Canadians, and British Columbia wants to be part of that.

Q: What specifically would you like to see Justin Trudeau do?

A: I appreciate the comments that the prime minister made in Nanaimo, I think it showed some strength of resolve there, to stand up to folks who were a bit cantankerous with him.

What we would like to see is the federal government speak directly to the proposed regulations that the government of B.C. thinks that it has the authority to enact.

They have every right to talk about protecting their environment and to work on protecting their environment and come up with best practices for marine safety and otherwise, but they don't have the right to tell Alberta what does or does not go into that pipeline.

British Columbians benefit a great deal from what goes into that pipeline. They heat their homes with it, so it is rather hypocritical as well.

The federal government needs to be very specific to the B.C. provincial government about what they do and do not have the right to do, because otherwise we are leaving investors wondering who's actually in charge and what rules they get to rely on and that doesn't help any Canadians anywhere in this country.

Q: Have you spoken directly with John Horgan about this conflict? He says you are good friends.

A: I had a conversation with John late last week and we very much did not agree. I strongly indicated we were very much opposed to what they were doing and that if they continued along this line, they could expect to see some pretty significant reaction from Alberta.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter about past friendships. My job is to stand up for the people of Alberta, my job is to stand up for jobs and the economic security and prosperity of all Albertans and that is exactly what I am going to do.

That's actually his job too.

In the long term this is about ensuring good jobs not only for Albertans but for British Columbians and for all Canadians.

Q: How is your "social licence" strategy working in this case?

A: It has made great progress. We are here saying that what the B.C. government is doing, is thumbing its nose at a decision taken by the federal government.

A decision that was taken, because of Alberta's work with respect to our climate change leadership and our extensive effort to reduce Alberta's contribution to Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions.

That remains part of this fundamental path forward.

As Alberta takes great steps, as Alberta's energy industry takes significant steps to reduce our emissions, we need to be able to finance that transition. Part of that is making sure that we stop leaving up to $30 a barrel on the table every time we sell a barrel of oil and gas, which is what's happening right now because we don't have access to diversified markets and we don't have enough pipeline capacity. This is all interrelated.

If you are going to make the kind of transition to a more sustainable economy, one that supports responsible progress with environmental protection, you need to do so in a way that doesn't compromise jobs, does not compromise families, does not compromise the kind of economic security people can enjoy.

That's what our plan does. The pipeline approval is part of that. Severing the two puts the whole thing at risk and that's not good for people who care about jobs, for people who care about the economy, for people who care about the environment. Basically everyone cares about a solid future for Canada.

Q: But how is that social licence helping in this dispute?

A: You can make progress, but that doesn't mean you get all the way there at once.

We have made progress with respect to the federal government's rationale for approving this pipeline and that's good. We also think there are a number of British Columbians who do see the work that we have done.

This is no longer a question about the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Q: Burnaby-South MP Kennedy Stewart has said civil disobedience could be an option for British Columbians opposed to the expansion. What should the federal NDP do in this case?

A: At the end of the day my loyalty, my concern is with the people of Alberta.

The federal NDP is not the official opposition and they're not the government. For the time being, I am going to focus my work on decision-makers and I am going to do everything I can to stand up for the people of Alberta.

My concern is that we continue to focus on jobs, economy security for all citizens, because that is too, a fundamental belief of New Democrats, or certainly New Democrats in Alberta and that's not going to change any time soon.


Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at calgarytheroadahead@cbc.ca

More stories from the series:

With files from CBC Calgary News at Six