Alberta will invest in Kinder Morgan pipeline if that’s what it takes – Premier Rachel Notley

BC Premier John Horgan during his Sunday press conference to address Kinder Morgan announcement

Notley threatens to have legislation ready this week to punish British Columbia for opposition to Trans Mountain Expansion

Alberta will put its money where its mouth is, says Premier Rachel Notley, investing in Kinder Morgan Canada’s 525,000 b/d Trans Mountain Expansion project from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, BC. The company announced Sunday that it is suspending “non-essential spending” because of the BC government’s political opposition and legal challenges. Notley said Alberta will not take “no” for an answer.

Rachel Notley, Alberta premier.

“Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built – including taking a public position in the pipeline. Alberta is prepared to be an investor in the pipeline,” she said at a press conference.

“If we take that step, we will be a significantly more determined investor. This pipeline will be built.”

Dennis McConaghy is a former executive with TransCanada Pipelines. He is dubious Alberta’s threat to invest in the project is feasible.

“I think that is going to be enormously difficult to put together. It’s not a lack of funds holding back this project, it’s a lack of enforcement [of federal approvals],” he said in an interview.

The Canadian government is taking a similarly hard stance on Kinder Morgan’s announcement.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr called on Horgan to “end all threats of delay” to the Trans Mountain Expansion, arguing that the importance of Canada’s role in the global energy market is bigger than individual projects and provinces.

“Our government stands behind this project and has the jurisdiction in this matter. Under Canadian constitutional law, this is well-established and clear and has been reaffirmed by multiple courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada,” Carr said in a statement.

“We are determined to find a solution. With all our partners, we continue to consider all available options. As our Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau] has said, this pipeline will be built.”

Dennis McConaghy.

Notley went one step further, saying that Horgan believes he can harass Trans Mountain Expansion without economic consequences for British Columbia, but Alberta is prepared to make it pay.

“We will be bringing forward legislation in coming days giving our government the powers it needs to impose serious economic consequences on BC if its government continues on its present course,” she said.

Horgan said during his press conference that while Kinder Morgan has told him the company thinks it has been “unnecessarily harassed,” his government disagrees.

“We campaigned in April of last year with a view to protect and defend our coast, with a view to have economic development take place in a balanced way within British Columbia, but we were consistent from the time the campaign started and right up until this day, that we believe it is our job as government of British Columbia is to defend our water, our lands, and most importantly, our coast,” he said.

Horgan said he spoke to Trudeau, who repeated the federal government’s position that the pipeline was in the national interest, and the premier said that again he disagreed.

“It is our view that provincial jurisdiction should prevail in many areas that are affected by this process,” he told the prime minister, making it clear BC has no intention of backing down from the increasing bitter political fight.

BC asked Alberta and Canada to join it in sending a reference question to the Supreme Court of Canada that would clarify the issue of BC’s jurisdiction over diluted bitumen shipments within provincial borders.

Horgan says the invitation was declined by both Notley and Trudeau.

He repeated his claim that BC should have equal jurisdiction over inter-provincial pipelines, a view that is part of the “co-operative federalism” approach to constitutional law, which holds that when two governments have overlapping authority, they should be required to co-operate in the exercise of that authority.

The National Energy Board ruled in Dec., in a dispute over tree cutting permits between Kinder Morgan and the City of Burnaby, that the constitutional principle of “paramountcy” holds in the case of the pipeline project. This means that if a provincial government or municipal government acts in a way that frustrates or impairs federal approval of a project, then federal authority is paramount.

The competing interpretations of constitutional law are at the heart of the legal dispute between BC and Burnaby on one side, and the company, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the Canadian government on the other.

The Federal Court of Appeal recently dismissed BC and the City of Burnaby’s request to appeal the NEB ruling.


“British Columbia’s attempt to stall or stop the Trans Mountain Expansion Project threatens the national interest. It’s time for the federal government to intervene and get the pipeline built. The time to build is now.” – Chelsie Klassen, spokesperson, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.


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