Federal judge grants B.C. injunction against Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps law

The Ruling: https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/421977/index.do

British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Alberta (Attorney General)

Court (s) DatabaseFederal Court Decisions
Date2019-09-24
Neutral citation2019 FC 1195
File numbersT-982-19

‘We’re going to continue to fight’: Alberta’s turn off the taps legislation blocked by federal court by Emma Graney with files from Moira Wyton and the Canadian Press, September 24, 2019, The Calgary Herald

A Federal Court judge has granted the British Columbia government a temporary injunction against an Alberta law that could have limited oil exports to other provinces.

The move means Alberta has been blocked from using so-called turn-off-the-taps legislation enshrined in Bill 12.

Energy minister Sonya Savage said Tuesday the province is not deterred by the temporary measure as the main court case is still moving forward.

“We’re going to continue to fight for every possible form of each redress for our natural resources, whether it’s pipelines or rail, we’re going to continue to defend the value of that resource,” Savage said from the legislature on Tuesday. “This (decision) doesn’t change anything in that.”

The law was introduced by Alberta’s former NDP government in retaliation against what it deemed constant interference by the B.C. government on pipeline projects, specifically the Trans Mountain expansion to the West Coast.

The NDP never proclaimed the legislation, saying it was best to leave as a tool to implement when the time was right.

Premier Jason Kenney took a different stance and proclaimed Bill 12 into law as soon as his party took power.

“We told the Premier not to proclaim this legislation because it would be like blowing up the missile while it’s still on the launchpad,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley in a news release Tuesday.

Kenney said his government wouldn’t use it unless the B.C. further stymies the pipeline, but Tuesday’s decision means Bill 12 is now little more than a piece of paper until courts make their final ruling on whether or not it’s constitutional.

“This injunction has rendered the legislation powerless. Any further threats from the Premier to turn off the taps are empty,” said Notley.

Savage said the decision to proclaim the legislation was based on a perceived change in B.C.’s stance on the Trans Mountain expansion project, which she said was “more aggressive” in issuing permits in the months before April.

“This is just an interlocutory application as we proceed along to the main court case,” said Savage.

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby applauded the court decision Tuesday.

“It’s hard for me to know what the thinking was in introducing this bill in Alberta but I do know what our thinking is, which is that it’s unconstitutional and that will ultimately be the finding of the court,” he said.

Eby called the decision an “important win” for his province.

“Having the injunction in place provides some relief for British Columbians who may have been concerned about an impact on fuel prices,” he said.

The finding
Justice Sebastien Grammond said in his decision Tuesday the turn-off-the-taps legislation raises a serious issue and could cause irreparable harm to the residents of B.C.

He found B.C. had met the test for blocking the law until the courts can decide its validity.

“British Columbia has met the criteria usually applied by the courts for the issuance of such an injunction,” Grammond wrote in his decision.

“It has shown that the validity of the Act raises a serious issue. It has demonstrated that an embargo of the nature evoked by the members of Alberta’s legislature when debating the Act would cause irreparable harm to the residents of British Columbia.”

The legislation, enacted under Bill 12, gives Alberta the power to crimp energy exports from the province.

B.C. has called the law a loaded gun and had asked the courts to make sure it didn’t accidentally go off. …

“We expect the Trans Mountain pipeline to be developed orderly and under construction,” said Savage on Tuesday. “We don’t we don’t anticipate that BC will interfere in any of that.”

Federal judge grants B.C. injunction against Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps law by The Canadian Press, Sept 24, 2019, Times Colonist

CALGARY — A Federal Court judge has granted the British Columbia government a temporary injunction against an Alberta law that could have limited oil exports to other provinces.

Justice Sebastien Grammond says Alberta’s so-called turn-off-the-taps legislation raises a serious issue and could cause irreparable harm to the residents of B.C.

He says B.C. has met the test for blocking the law until the courts can decide its validity.

The legislation gives Alberta the power to crimp energy exports from the province.

It was passed, but never used, by Alberta’s former NDP government as a way to put pressure on B.C. to drop its fight against the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion to the West Coast.

The new United Conservative government proclaimed it into force shortly after Premier Jason Kenney was sworn into office in April, but he had said it wouldn’t be used unless B.C. throws up further roadblocks to the pipeline.

B.C. has called the law a loaded gun and had asked the courts to make sure it didn’t accidentally go off.

B.C. wins temporary injunction blocking Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps legislation, Federal Court opts Tuesday to suspend Bill 12 by CBC News with files from the Canadian Press and Tanya Fletcher, Sept 24, 2019

The Federal Court has suspended Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps legislation related to the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, granting British Columbia a temporary injunction blocking the law until a full constitutional review can take place.

The legislation was passed — but never used — by Alberta’s former NDP government as a way pressure B.C. to drop its fight against the pipeline expansion.

B.C. filed a statement of claim in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench this spring, calling the law unconstitutional, but that court said the issue was under Federal Court’s jurisdiction.

The latter court granted B.C.’s request for the injunction Tuesday, prohibiting Alberta’s minister of energy from enacting the law until a full review is completed.

“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,” the court decision read.

The court also rejected Alberta’s motion to have B.C.’s application thrown out. The eastern province had said the West Coast government was acting prematurely, but the justice rejected that stance.

The legal battle is part of the fallout over the Trans Mountain expansion project, which has been subject to several court challenges from provincial and municipal governments as well as Indigenous communities and environmental groups.

Bill 12 gave Alberta’s energy minister the power to ask anyone who wanted to export natural gas, refined fuels or crude from the province to get a licence first. Then, Alberta would have power to impose terms and conditions over the trade — including quantity and destination.

B.C. said the act would affect interprovincial trade, which is under Ottawa’s jurisdiction.

In June, a lawyer for the Alberta government argued the legislation was not meant to hurt B.C. despite political rhetoric that suggested otherwise.

The federal government bought the existing Trans Mountain pipeline last year for $4.5 billion after its original builder, Texas-based Kinder Morgan, threatened to walk away from its expansion in part because of B.C.’s resistance.

This entry was posted in Other Lawsuits. Bookmark the permalink.