Dear First Ministers,
Canadians, and in particular British Columbians, are looking to their elected leadership to find common ground on energy issues that affect all of us. Rather than constructive dialogue, we have heard divisive rhetoric from the Premier of British Columbia and posturing by the Government of Alberta that could significantly affect energy prices in British Columbia. Canadians and British Columbians deserve a roadmap to resolve this impasse and get on with building our provinces and Canada as a whole. It is time for the Prime Minister, Premier Kenney, Premier Horgan and Indigenous leadership to sit down and hammer out a plan for a path forward.
With no decision on the pipeline expansion expected before the end of June, there are 60 days available for meaningful good faith discussions amongst the four key parties. I propose the following mandate for these discussions:
• Secure British Columbia’s energy security for the immediate future, including the necessary refined products to support affordable gasoline prices and economic growth.
• Address British Columbia’s concerns about the safety of the transportation of oil by pipeline or rail within the province and on its coast.
• Support Alberta’s need for expanded pipeline access to tidewater/export markets to maximize the value of its oil resources.
• Identify opportunities for the two provinces to work together on economic, regulatory and environmental matters for the mutual benefit of their respective citizens. Of particular interest would be discussions about the right approach to developing needed refinery capacity in the two provinces, more specifically where it best makes sense to expand capacity to serve both provinces. In addition, the two provinces could explore opportunities to build on and expand on the New West Partnership Trade Agreement.
• Identify opportunities for meaningful participation, including ownership, by First Nations communities in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and other potential collaborative projects (refineries, etc.) that might arise out of the multi-party discussions.
• Position the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion for the construction phase of the project and the eventual sale of the federal government’s interest in the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The first meeting of the Premiers and the Prime Minister should be positioned for success, rather than photo-ops. The leaders should be joined by their Deputy Ministers who will be charged with driving the negotiations. And to ensure the negotiations advance in a meaningful and timely manner, each party should appoint a lead negotiator with the proper mandate, who will be solely focussed on achieving a solution by the end of June. They should be involved in the initial meeting/mandate session. At the appropriate time the federal government will also need to engage with key Indigenous leaders on the structuring of ownership opportunities of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
As an indication of good faith, Alberta should commit to not “turning off the taps” while negotiations are underway. Likewise, British Columbia should not undertake a court challenge to Bill 12 while the parties are engaged.
With an open mind and determination, the parties can achieve a resolution to the outstanding issues over the next 60 days. The alternative is significant economic pain for both provinces, expensive litigation that only benefits lawyers and no meaningful path to a solution for either province.
Leader of the Official Opposition