British Columbia is just defending its interests on pipeline: BC premier

The Alberta Legislature.					Postmedia

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley must have been saving up all week for her latest diatribe today, but at least she waited for Finance Minister Bill Morneau to finish his press conference, laying out Ottawa's plan to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is completed.

The announcement, coming on the very day when the company's Calgary-based Canadian operation is scheduled to hold its annual meeting, bore the hallmarks of an effort to ratchet up the pressure in advance of Kinder Morgan's May 31 deadline.

"The indemnification would allow Kinder Morgan to finish what they started, what they received federal and B.C. approval to do", he said. "It seems to me it's mostly rhetoric and hyperbole instead of substance British Columbians and Canadians can grab on to".

Last month, Kinder Morgan announced the suspension of work for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, running from its Baseline Road terminal to Burnaby, B.C. "Mr. Morneau will do what he wants to do".

"We see a path to an outcome that will assure that we can get the advantage that we're seeking; that's why those discussions are ongoing".

StarMetro has obtained a letter from B.C. Attorney-General David Eby on Wednesday to his Albertan counterpart, warning that the legislation is "beyond the powers of the Alberta Legislature" and would be a clear violation of Canada's constitution.

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He said investors need certainty in order to back a project the government has repeatedly insisted is in the national interest, but steadfastly refused to say what sort of dollar figures are now on the table.

Notley has lauded Bill 12 - the Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act - as a way to strategically deploy Alberta resources. "The federal government has worked with Alberta to eliminate the financial risk to the project brought by the actions of the B.C. government, a key piece of our overall strategy".

In a statement of his own, Horgan said his government is within its rights to stand up for B.C.'s environment, economy and coast against the threat of a bitumen spill.

Morneau did not directly answer when he was asked how other investors or companies could conceivably take over a project to expand an existing pipeline that already has an owner.

"I'm defending the interests of British Columbia", he said.

"The federal finance minister is trying to use our government as an excuse, as the federal government puts taxpayer money on the line to backstop risks to private investors, while completely ignoring the risks to B.C.", he said.

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