PM helped create crisis

For those who follow Canadian politics closely, all eyes were focused on Ottawa last Sunday for a summit meeting hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Alberta and B.C. NDP premiers Rachel Notley and John Horgan. 

The topic of the meeting was the growing dispute between Ottawa, British Columbia and Alberta over the construction of Trans Mountain pipeline. 

The media headlines that followed this meeting were candid.

“Trudeau has failed to resolve pipeline crises” and  more recently, “Kinder Morgan project a test of Trudeau’s competency, puts his 18 B.C. seats at risk, say pollsters."

While this is occurring, Prime Minister Trudeau has remained firm in his statement that the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built.

From my time on the government side of the House, it is my opinion that media headlines are not always fair to elected officials. 

The expectation that Mr. Trudeau could resolve this pipeline stand off in a single meeting are overly optimistic and more so when you consider both provincial NDP premiers politically benefit from their respective positions.  

From a political perspective, the real challenge for the Prime Minister, who is in a situation of his own making, is whatever actions he ultimately makes will come at a steep political cost to the Liberals.

The Prime Minister is also well aware of this fact, and rather than take any decisive action, he has suggested he may ultimately work with the project proponent, Kinder Morgan, to mitigate investor risk in the Trans Mountain project. 

Although no formal announcement has been made, I am already hearing strong opposition from some Canadians at the thought of throwing, and I will quote directly, “public money into the coffers of an oil giant.”

Meanwhile, Alberta continues to move forward a bill in their provincial legislature that could limit the supply of Alberta gasoline to British Columbia.

A move that the premier of Saskatchewan has also voiced support for.  

In British Columbia, the NDP government has called Alberta’s threat a “bluff” and remains committed that they will not change their position.

What happens next? 

At this point, it is all speculation and rather than engage in 'what if' scenarios, I will provide a factual update when more information is available.  

While the debate on potentially restricting oil flow between two provinces rages on, one subject that has my full attention is the upcoming decision by our Supreme Court on the Comeau case. This decision should be rendered later this week.

Many will know that for decades provinces have prohibited the inter-provincial direct consumer shipping of alcohol over provincial borders. 

In fact, there are many items and even services that face similar restrictions that amount to inter-provincial trade protectionism. 

In the last Parliament, I had a bill passed that removed the Federal government from some of these restrictions but only a handful of provinces followed suit. 

Ultimately, this lead to the Comeau case that came before the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). 

The Comeau case argues in favour of section 121 of our Charter:

“All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces."

In the event the SCC rules in favour of this definition, it could potentially create significant new opportunities for many local industries and producers to access important new markets in Canada.

Something I believe most Canadians support.

My question this week:

  • Do you support the idea of open provincial borders and increased inter-provincial trade?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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