No pipeline blow-out as Western pre­miers meet in Ed­mon­ton

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Dean BEN­NETT

ED­MON­TON — Canada’s western and north­ern lead­ers pushed Thurs­day for re­duc­ing trade bar­ri­ers and build­ing trade corridors while avoiding a bun­fight on the con­tentious Trans Moun­tain pipeline.

Alberta Premier Ja­son Ken­ney and his B.C. coun­ter­part John Hor­gan am­i­ca­bly agreed to con­tinue to dis­agree on the pipeline ex­pan­sion project that would carry Alberta oil to the West Coast.

Hor­gan even made a joke about be­ing the lone New Demo­crat at the ta­ble with Ken­ney, Saskatchew­an’s Scott Moe and Man­i­toba’s Brian Pal­lis­ter, all lead­ers of con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ments.

“I wore a blue suit so I could blend in,” Hor­gan said as he and the other lead­ers spoke to re­porters at the end of the one-day meet­ing in Ed­mon­ton.

“I think Premier Ken­ney and I are off on the right foot.”

There has been fric­tion be­tween B.C. and Alberta over the pipeline project.

Ken­ney re­stated that Alberta is pre­pared to use provin­cial leg­is­la­tion to limit oil and gas ex­ports to any prov­ince he sees as stand­ing in the way of pipelines – a so-called turn-off-the-taps law.

Hor­gan said his gov­ern­ment will push ahead with a le­gal chal­lenge of that law, as well as a ref­er­ence to the Supreme Court on whether the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had the con­sti­tu­tional ju­ris­dic­tion to ap­prove the pipeline ex­pan­sion.

Hor­gan stressed B.C. has fol­lowed the rule of law and will con­tinue to do so.

“We have been and will con­tinue to is­sue per­mits as they are re­quested by the pro­po­nent, and we will con­tinue to as­sert our ju­ris­dic­tion and hold the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ac­count­able,” said Hor­gan.

“This is­sue has not been, in my opin­ion, about British Columbia and Alberta.”

Ken­ney said, “I made it clear to Premier Hor­gan that if we see from any prov­ince ob­struc­tion of the move­ment of our prod­ucts from this prov­ince in a way we think vi­o­lates the Con­sti­tu­tion, we will take ac­tion.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that and I be­lieve we’ve be­gun a pro­duc­tive, pro­fes­sional and re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ship.”

But there were no fire­works at the clos­ing news con­fer­ence like last year, when the pipeline is­sue led then-Alberta premier Rachel Not­ley to opt out of sign­ing a doc­u­ment from the meet­ing.

The pre­miers did find com­mon ground on is­sues such as eco­nomic corridors, re­duc­ing trade bar­ri­ers and rec­og­niz­ing pro­fes­sional cre­den­tials from prov­ince to prov­ince.

“I think we agreed it makes no sense that a nurse or a doctor from B.C. shouldn’t be able to have that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rec­og­nized in Alberta and vice versa,” said Ken­ney.

Ken­ney said the corridors in­clude ev­ery­thing from elec­tric­ity grids to nat­u­ral gas lines, highways, rail­ways and pipelines.

He said those plans will be pur­sued at the full meet­ing of pre­miers at the Coun­cil of the Fed­er­a­tion in Saska­toon next month.

Pal­lis­ter’s ef­forts to have the pre­miers unite against Que­bec’s law ban­ning civil ser­vants from wear­ing re­li­gious sym­bols did not make it on the for­mal agenda of the meet­ing.

Pal­lis­ter said he wouldn’t give up the fight.

“Man­i­toba re­mains very con­cerned about any­thing that in­ter­feres with our abil­ity to cel­e­brate as a coun­try the di­ver­sity that’s a re­al­ity here,” he said.

“I’m a farm boy and I don’t like ero­sion. And I cer­tainly am al­ways con­cerned about the ero­sion of rights in our coun­try.

“So I’ll con­tinue to have that view and I’ll con­tinue to ex­press it.”

On cli­mate change, the pre­miers agreed to con­tinue work­ing on plans to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions, but also push a process to for­mally rec­og­nize cli­mate change ini­tia­tives the prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries have al­ready achieved.



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