B.C. Premier John Horgan didn’t move far enough to end Premier Rachel Notley’s ban on B.C. wine. But he did give her something Tuesday — a small easing of his proposed provincial ban on new bitumen shipments.
Notley greeted this as generously as she could.
“The signals we are getting is that this is still a work in progress, and as that work progresses in B.C. and with the federal government, we will continue to give them the space to do that.”
That “space” probably takes us to the end of the week before Notley drops another boycott of some kind.
What Horgan said Tuesday, amid the usual fog of ambiguity, was that it’s never been his intention to impose a ban on shipping new bitumen through the Kinder Morgan pipeline before a study is completed.
The B.C. proposal released Jan. 30 (with the infamous Point Five that sent Notley ballistic) promised this:
“Restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.”
The difference between “before” and “until” is pretty clear. By giving just a little, Horgan took the first baby step toward dropping the claim that B.C. can control or ban a product approved for shipment by Ottawa.
That’s the constitutional point that riled Notley and finally goosed the feds into action — the presumption that B.C., by its own reading of safety, can block interprovincial trade.
Postmedia columnist Vaughn Palmer coaxed the retreat out of Horgan by noting that the Jan. 30 proposal said bitumen would be banned first, studied later.
“It’s never been my intention,” the premier said.
That lends some weight to the theory that Horgan’s environment minister, George Heyman, went too far with the proposals he released while the premier was away on a trade mission in Asia.
But Horgan still hasn’t abandoned his assumption that B.C. can limit shipments at some later point, after study and consultation with the public.
Notley and her crew know what this is. Some of them rage about it in private. It’s both an attack on trade rights and a ploy to create more delay that would finally convince Kinder Morgan to abandon the Trans Mountain expansion.
Notley has always said that B.C. can consult and study all it likes, within the province’s genuine rights. But it cannot subvert a federal power in order to grievously damage Alberta’s economy.
Notley vows …read more