Opposition presses B.C. government on Trans Mountain following court dismissal

The opposition Liberals pressed the B.C. NDP government this week, following the dismissal by a judge to declare unconstitutional an Alberta law that could restrict the flow of refined oil products to B.C.

In particular, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson honed in on the province’s affidavit. A judge dismissed the British Columbia government's request to declare unconstitutional an Alberta law that could restrict the flow of refined oil products to B.C.

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The attorney general of B.C. alleged in a statement of claim that the Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act was meant to counteract steps taken by B.C. in its opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

“This government has repeatedly turned to the courts to support their political agenda, and they've been repeatedly slapped down,” Wilkinson said during question period on Monday. “On Friday, of course, we had another example, where the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, after hearing that the Trans Mountain pipeline, according to this government, was essential ‘to avoid increased prices, lack of supply and civil unrest….’ That's a quote from the British Columbia affidavit.

“On Friday, the claim was completely struck out. The court relied upon the test which says that the claim cannot proceed if it discloses no reasonable claim, where it is frivolous, irrelevant or improper, or where it constitutes an abuse of process.

“So congratulations, government of British Columbia. The entire claim being struck out, and this government saying that the pipeline is essential — in its own affidavit — for fuel supplies, to avoid increased prices and to avoid civil unrest. We turn to the environment minister and say: does he support the position taken by this government that the Trans Mountain pipeline is essential to avoid civil unrest, boosts in fuel prices and lack of supply?”

B.C. Attorney General David Eby responded, saying the entire claim was not struck out.

“It was an application that our claim was too early,” Eby said. “The court said: ‘You're here too soon, trying to protect the interests of British Columbians. Come back once Alberta has proclaimed the legislation, if you want to make the argument.’ Which is fair. But we thought we had a principled argument to make when Alberta brought forward legislation that they were going to turn off oil and gas supplies to British Columbia.”

He added: “We thought we had good reason to go to the court as early as we could to raise this issue and say that that would have devastating consequences, certainly, for British Columbia, and we believed the action was illegal. To go to court too early to argue that is I don't think a flaw. To be enthusiastic about protecting the interests of British Columbians is I don't think a flaw. But perhaps in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition, it is.”

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