Injunction granted against Alberta's 'turn-off-the-taps' act

Federal Court judge says B.C. has a strong case against Alberta’s Bill-12

Bill-12 would give the Alberta government the power to control exports of oil and gas | Trans Mountain

The Federal Court of Canada has granted the Government of B.C.’s application for an injunction against Alberta’s Bill-12 – the act Alberta has threatened to use to cut off oil and gas to B.C. in its dispute over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Bill-12 was introduced by the Rachel Notley government and then proclaimed by the Jason Kenney Conservatives.

On Tuesday, September 24, the Federal Court granted an injunction against Bill-12. The injunction means that Alberta cannot act on Bill-12 until the court has determined whether or not Bill-12 is indeed unconstitutional.

The intent of the law was to give Alberta control over the export of its oil and gas resources.

It was in response B.C.’s plans to enact legislation restricting the flow of diluted bitumen from Alberta through B.C. via the Trans Mountain pipeline or rail.

Earlier this year, the B.C. Court of Appeal unanimously rejected B.C.’s assertion that it has any constitutional authority to restrict products flowing through a federally regulated pipeline. B.C. is appealing that decision.

Politicians in Alberta made it clear that Bill-12 was aimed squarely at British Columbia in response to the John Horgan government’s attempts to restrict the flow of diluted bitumen through by pipeline or rail.

Federal Court Justice Sébastien Grammond agreed the act is discriminatory against B.C. He also agreed with B.C.’s argument that any restrictions on the flow of oil or refined fuel products could be seriously damaging to B.C.’s economy.

“I find that the irreparable harm that British Columbia would suffer if the injunction is not granted far outweighs any inconvenience that the injunction might impose on Alberta,” Grammond writes in his written decision.

“Such an embargo would deprive British Columbia of essential fuel supply, which could result in severe economic consequences as well as, depending on the duration of the embargo, threats to public safety.

While the injunction does not mean that Bill-12 has been nullified by the court, it appears Alberta will have a hard time defending the act.

Grammond notes that “there is a serious issue as to the validity of the Act in its totality.”