EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she’s not happy with Ottawa’s decision to let stand a court decision that has stalled the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The federal government has instead appointed former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities.
Notley says she understands Ottawa’s view that this is the best way to break the logjam over the multibillion-dollar project aimed at getting more Alberta oil to tankers on the B.C. coast.
The Federal Court of Appeal put a hold on the expansion in August and said the government needed to assess the project’s impact on marine life and further consult with Indigenous groups.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi says the government does not intend to start the consultations over again, but will use them to address the weaknesses the court identified.
Notley says the government should keep all options _ including an appeal _ open.
“Our government does not agree with the decision of the federal government to not pursue an appeal of the original decision,” she said Wednesday.
“We understand that pursuing an appeal is a longer-term path towards a solution, and we understand that the path that they are pursuing right now is one that is likely to be more effective and faster.
“Nonetheless, until that path succeeds, as far as I’m concerned their job is to keep all options open.”
Notley said she welcomes the renewed consultations, because they need to be done, and understands arbitrary timelines can’t be imposed on them _ even if that means further delays on resuming construction on the pipeline expansion.
“We expect that there may well be a delay past this summer coming up,” said Notley.
“I’d like to see construction resume next year at some point, but at the end of the day we know that the constitutional obligation to consult with Indigenous people is such that it must be defined by the consultations.”
Jason Kenney, leader of the Opposition United Conservatives, said Notley has failed to follow up on her promise to hold federal “feet to the fire” and get the court decision appealed.
“What is her response to the federal Liberals? Nada. Nothing,” Kenney said in Calgary.
“Albertans should think there’s been a failure of political leadership. There’s been far too much talk and not nearly enough action.”