Kenney calls assessment bill a threat to unity ahead of Trudeau meeting

Katie Ramirez
May 4, 2019

Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party are to officially take control of Alberta's government today.

"Pipeline or no pipeline, it doesn't change the supply or availability of gasoline without a change in refining capacity", said Mason Hamilton, a petroleum markets analyst with the US Energy Information Administration.

Ottawa has issued a proposed list of projects that will be subjected to a controversial new environmental-impact assessment process, including major interprovincial pipelines, large hydro dams and offshore wind farms.

"Frankly I've never understood why Canada is the only major oil and gas producer in the world to put a cap on its prosperity and its production".

The Alberta premier has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday morning, entitled "Fighting for jobs, the economy and pipelines". The goal of C-69, they said, is to prevent those kinds of delays.

It is legislation passed by former NDP premier Rachel Notley a year ago and held in reserve as Alberta battled B.C.'s opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion, a project that would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline in order for Alberta to export more oil overseas.

The B.C. premier said there's a path forward for Ottawa and the two provincial governments, referencing a phone conversation he had with Kenney Tuesday night. He said while the government is open to amendments, it is not open to wiping out the bill's attempt to address the environmental and Indigenous consultation requirements that have led to most of the court challenges. "I believe that's in the interests of our marine environment, our natural environment, that British Columbian would have a say what comes in and what comes out", he said.

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The two also expressed disappointment that Kenney was stirring up national-unity questions, calling that "irresponsible". He pointed repeatedly to a recent poll suggests half of Albertans are prepared to secede from Canada.

He says he thinks most people are just "blowing off steam" to express frustration, but contends that if support for seceding in Quebec was at 50 per cent, no federal government would try to pass a bill causing so much anger.

"I'm simply pointing out there is a deep and growing frustration in my province", he said.

"British Columbians are now facing a gasoline crisis, paying a ridiculous $1.70 a litre in metro Vancouver", Kenney said. But he said he rarely hears anyone threaten to leave Canada.

Kenney said he doesn't like the cap and never has but that it will be many years before the emissions from the oilsands get anywhere close to 100 million tonnes. We need to have the process work.

Later Thursday, Kenney is to meet face-to-face with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the political foe he used to face as a Conservative MP and attacked relentlessly in his successful bid to become Alberta's premier.

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