Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan.
Jason Franson/The Canadian Press; Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press
A court challenge by the British Columbia government over Alberta’s fuel restriction law has been shot down by a Calgary judge who said B.C. took the case to court prematurely.B.C. Attorney General David Eby filed a statement of claim in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench on May 22, 2018 challenging the constitutionality of Alberta’s Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act or Bill 12.Alberta brought the legislation in amidst extreme tension with B.C. over John Horgan government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline. Under the act, Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd can decide if a company needs an export licence to send oil and gas outside Alberta’s borders — and it’s up to her whether or not she’ll grant one.The legal action said Alberta’s law was unconstitutional because it intended to punish B.C. by limiting exports of fuel products.On Friday, Calgary Justice R.J. Hall struck down the challenge because the law had not yet been proclaimed and is unenforceable.“For the court to consider such a claim, the Act must first be in force,” Hall wrote.The province argued the claim was “premature and inappropriate for consideration by the court.” However, should Alberta enact the legislation, Hall says British Columbia could resubmit a claim.“We’re pleased this challenge has been struck down by the court and will keep fighting for fair value and market access for our resources,” McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement Saturday. “This law remains available if necessary. In the meantime, we’re encouraged by Friday’s NEB decision and are taking decisive action to move more oil by rail until new pipelines are built.”B.C. “cannot replace supply”The court decision notes an affidavit filed on behalf of B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum resources which notes 55 per cent of British Columbia’s gasoline and 71 per cent of its diesel is imported from Alberta refineries, with the majority travelling through the Trans Mountain pipeline on average of eight million litres per day.“The affidavit goes on to say that British Columbia cannot replace that supply from viable sources,” the decision reads. “It says that reductions in supply from Alberta will cause shortages in British Columbia and that the result could be increased prices, lack of supply and civil unrest in British Columbia.”NEB recommends Trans Mountain approvalThe court action comes on the same day the National Energy Board recommended the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project from Alberta to the West Coast, providing the federal government with a further 16 recommendations in addition to the 156 conditions it had proposed in its earlier recommendations.The NEB announced the 590,000 barrels per day Trans Mountain expansion project could have “significant adverse environmental effects” on the West Coast and marine wildlife, but is still in the national interest.-with files from Geoffrey Morgan