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Notley says B.C. must allow Alberta access to the coast

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan leaves with B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver from Government House in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

CHAD HIPOLITO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says no British Columbia government can lay solitary claim to western tidewaters and must allow Alberta access to the coast.

Ms. Notley has watched this week as her NDP cousins in B.C. formed an alliance with the Green Party aimed at overthrowing the Liberal minority government. The pact centres around using all means to block the Trans Mountain pipeline that Alberta sees as crucial to its ability to broaden markets for its oil products.

But Ms. Notley has repeatedly reminded British Columbians – and Canada's federal government – that the province has no jurisdiction to block a $7.4-billion project that has already been given federal approval and on Wednesday, she said the coast belongs to all Canadians.

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Read more: How a deal with the Greens slipped away from Christy Clark's BC Liberals

"At the end of the day, we can't be a country that says one of its two functional coastlines is only going to do what the people who live right beside it want to do," Ms. Notley said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM show. "We have to be able to engage in international trade and that's what we're doing."

Ms. Notley said the project has been adjudicated by both the National Energy Board and the federal cabinet, which approved it last November subject to project proponent Kinder Morgan satisfying largely technical conditions imposed by the energy board. The Alberta NDP Premier said she expected the federal position would be approved in the courts, allowing the pipeline expansion to proceed.

Ms. Notley was also sharply critical of BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver after Mr. Weaver said Tuesday that British Columbians are tired of being told the 20th century economy associated with pipelines is the economy of tomorrow.

"For Ms. Notley to tell British Columbia that somehow chasing the 20th century is the way for our future is not a good sign for her or her economy in Alberta," he said, advocating diversifying the economy beyond jobs such as those around pipelines.

Ms. Notley shot back Wednesday, referring to Mr. Weaver's past as a climate scientist at the University of Victoria and his representation of an idyllic, wealthy riding in Victoria.

"I think it's pretty easy for a tenured professor from Oak Bay to make judgments about the relative values of different kinds of jobs, but I would suggest that in the new position he's in he needs to think about the jobs that matter to all working people. I would urge him to consider talking to a few of those folks."

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On Wednesday, Ms. Notley and Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the environmental law centre at the University of Victoria, said in an e-mail exchange that while the federal government can assert federal authority to move forward with pipeline development, that is subject to caveats.

They include legal action by First Nations asserting the illegality of federal approvals because of a lack of consultation and B.C. power over a number of permits and approvals.

In an agreement this week outlining NDP and Green plans to co-operate in the legislature, the parties say they will "employ every tool available" to stop the expansion of the pipeline, but no other details of the plans are offered.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader John Horgan said the new government would consult the attorney general's ministry as well as the ministries of the environment and energy to make sure permitting issues were "exhaustively reviewed."

On Wednesday, Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver declined to take further questions on policy from the media as they visited the Government House residence of the lieutenant governor to deliver a letter on governance plans signed by the 44 members of both caucuses.

Under the pact announced this week, the three Green MLAs agreed to work with the 42 NDP MLAs, combining to outnumber the Liberals' 43 seats. The two parties plan to bring down the Liberals in a confidence motion that BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark has said she expects her party will lose, ending 16 years of Liberal government.

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Video: Climate issues key to BC Greens siding with NDP, Weaver says (The Canadian Press)
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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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