Alberta is not turning off the oil taps to British Columbia.

It’s tampering with the oil taps.

Or, perhaps more accurately, it will be playing musical taps.

The government’s new Bill 12 introduced Monday does not explicitly mention turning off, or throttling back, the oil spigot to B.C.

Instead, the bill talks of giving the government extraordinary powers to dictate to energy companies what products they can ship out of Alberta.

Sounds benign, even dull.

It’s certainly nothing like the fiery comments from Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, who said last week: “We’ve been clear that if the government of B.C. persists in attacking our jobs and economy, they will face serious consequences.”

But the new legislation is neither benign nor dull.

The bill’s more cautious language is merely a more diplomatic and more legally defensible way to fiddle with the oil taps.

The government is keenly aware that if it ordered energy companies to stop shipping gasoline to Vancouver as a retaliatory move in the pipeline war with B.C., the order might be challenged in court as unconstitutional or a violation of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. It would certainly be seen as mean-spirited, unCanadian and unneighbourly.

That’s one reason why the bill has a warm and fuzzy title, “Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act,” and not, say, the “Sticking It To British Columbia Act.”

Premier Rachel Notley framed the need for the new law in a circuitous statement Monday morning that talked of “pipeline capacity” and “demand” for bitumen and “decisions that will ultimately amplify the return that we get,” which might “inadvertently impact” the price of gasoline in Vancouver.

Here is her argument as translated by me: “Hmm, China would like more bitumen so we’ll use the existing limited pipeline infrastructure to ship more bitumen to the West Coast. And because the pipelines are busy doing that, we have no room to ship gasoline to Vancouver. We’ll have to transport gasoline by rail. That will take more time and might be more expensive and could even raise the price of gasoline at the pump for motorists in Vancouver. But, hey, that’s beyond our control. Gee, if only we had more pipelines so we could ship gasoline cheaply and quickly to our neighbours in B.C.”

Or, as Notley actually said Monday: “Pipelines are important.”

It’s worth pointing out the bill is not aimed just at pipelines. The government is giving itself the power to control the shipment of energy products by …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Business


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Graham Thomson: Alberta’s new Bill 12 designed to inflict economic pain on B.C.

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