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Alberta's premier says he won't 'turn off the taps' to B.C., yet

Last Updated Apr 30, 2019 at 2:14 pm PDT

File Photo: United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney addresses supporters in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 16, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jason Kenney says at this time, the United Conservative Party will not be using legislation to stop sending oil to B.C.

Kenney, who was sworn in Tuesday, had promised during his campaign he'd turn the taps off to B.C.

CALGARY (NEWS 1130) – Despite promises to immediately proclaim legislation to “turn off the taps” to B.C., Alberta’s new premier says his government will pursue a more diplomatic route first.

Jason Kenney was sworn in Tuesday morning. The United Conservative leader had promised repeatedly during his campaign that if he was elected he would stop sending oil to B.C. for the west coast province’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The controversial project has strained the relationship between the two provinces for months.

Before going into his first cabinet meeting, Kenney refused to confirm if Bill 12, the turn off the taps legislation, was on the agenda.

“I cannot reveal the cabinet agenda. That’s a commitment. We will keep our commitments, but I’m not going to disclose a secret cabinet agenda. Stay tuned,” Kenney said. “We will obviously keep our electoral commitment to proclaim Bill 12, but I’ve been clear, it is not out intention to reduce shipments or turn off the tap at this time. We simply want to demonstrate that our government is serious about defending the vital economic interest of Alberta.”

Bill 12, the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act would “ensure the interests of Albertans are optimized before authorizing the export of natural gas, crude oil or refined fuels.” The bill was introduced and passed by the previous NPD government, but never proclaimed into law.

Some experts said Kenney would have had to follow through on his threat after making it a major issue during the election campaign. However, others have cited concerns for businesses in Alberta, saying the province would essentially be “shooting itself in the foot” if it moved to prevent oil companies from exporting their product to British Columbia.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby has threatened to take Alberta to court if the bill is proclaimed.

“If (Kenney) does do that, our lawyers are ready to go to court because we believe this law is unconstitutional and we would be challenging it as soon as it is proclaimed into law,” Eby said Tuesday. “There is a provision in the constitution that you can’t restrict the flow of refined products between provinces.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan’s office said he would likely not be commenting on Kenney’s statement because it is too early to know what action Alberta may take.

The UCP leader defeated the New Democrats in the provincial election on April 16th, when the United Conservatives won 63 seats to the NDP’s 24.

Kenney has promised his government’s first piece of legislation will be to repeal a carbon tax the NDP brought in.

He is Alberta’s 18th premier.