Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Loaded Gun:' B.C. Seeks Injunction against Alberta's Turn-off-the-Taps Law

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Loaded Gun:' B.C. Seeks Injunction against Alberta's Turn-off-the-Taps Law

Article excerpt

B.C. calls Alberta turn-off-the-taps law a 'loaded gun'


CALGARY - A lawyer for the British Columbia government has argued Alberta's turn-off-the-taps law is a weapon that should be defused until a court decides whether it's constitutional.

"There's a loaded gun," B.C senior counsel Gareth Morley told a Calgary courtroom Friday.

"We need to make sure that it doesn't accidentally go off."

The legislation was passed -- but never used -- by Alberta's former NDP government as a way to put pressure on B.C. to drop its fight against the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion to the West Coast. The law gives Alberta the power to crimp energy exports.

The new United Conservative government proclaimed it into force shortly after Premier Jason Kenney was sworn into office in April, but he has said it won't be used unless B.C. throws up further roadblocks to the pipeline.

B.C. filed a statement of claim in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench last month calling the law unconstitutional and has made a similar filing in Federal Court.

It notes 55 per cent of its gasoline and 71 per cent of its diesel comes from Alberta refineries, and that the Parkland refinery in Burnaby, B.C., produces a quarter of B.C.'s fuel using mostly Alberta crude.

On Friday, B.C. argued for an injunction that would stop the Alberta government from using the law against B.C., or require Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage to get court approval before doing so.

Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall reserved his decision on the injunction, and whether B.C. has standing to request it in his court.

At the heart of Friday's arguments was debate over whether the law harms B.C.

Morley contends that it does, even though there's been no suggestion that an order to turn off the taps is in the offing. He noted there's no obstacle to Savage issuing such an order, other than her government's professed preference not to for the time-being. …

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