Ottawa Will Have Breathing Room To Fix B.C. Dispute, Says Notley

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The Alberta government will give federal bureaucrats a few days to negotiate with the British Columbia government concerning Alberta’s objection to proposed B.C. plans to temporarily limit increased bitumen transportation through the province.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told reporters Monday that it is her understanding the federal government is talking with British Columbia and “we are going to give them a little bit of space to have conversations.” For the time being, “I am prepared to let those talks continue without further retaliatory action.”

Alberta last week cancelled negotiations with B.C. over the purchase of power and then banned shipments of B.C. wines in response to the B.C. government’s proposed legislation that would be in effect while an independent panel studies the effect of oil spills of diluted bitumen.

The province, though, isn’t going to wait indefinitely — “we are talking days not much more than that” — and will assess the situation daily to see what sorts of signals it gets out of B.C. and the federal government, said the premier.

“It’s in British Columbia’s power to put this issue to rest by acknowledging that it overstepped its authority by making this threat,” said Notley.

“They can drop Point 5 [of the proposed legislation], follow the law and halt their campaign of harassment against the Trans Mountain pipeline,” the premier said. “Or they can dig in their heels and pretend they are a separate country with powers to make whatever laws they want with no regard for the constitution and the views and rights of other Canadians.”

Notley insisted that while Alberta doesn’t seek an escalation of the dispute, it will have no choice but to respond if B.C. “continues [to think] it has rights to attack Alberta’s economy that they don’t have.”

Today, Alberta will be rolling out new online tools so that Albertans and Canadians who want to voice their support for a strong economy and a strong environment can do so to the B.C. and Canadian governments, said the premier. It will invite people to sign up to deliver their message to key political figures and to tell their story.

Later this week, she will be meeting with her newly-appointed task force, (DOB, Feb. 12, 2017), to map out additional strategic actions.

Pressed by reporters as to why Alberta is not acting more aggressively, Notley said her government so far has chosen strategies that will affect B.C. more than Albertans. “I think that we have gotten the attention of federal officials and that they are definitely working on trying to find a solution and they know we are serious,” she said.