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An (Imaginary) Dear John Letter

Hypothetical musings on what Alberta Premier Rachel Notley might say to B.C. Premier John Horgan

Dear John,

Well, it's been a few weeks since I ordered the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to stop importing all B.C. wine. Last year, Alberta imported more than 17 million bottles of B.C. wine, amounting to about $70 million. Sorry that some of your wineries will go bankrupt, but we have challenges here in Alberta, too, and our actions are a direct result of your decision to delay the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and, particularly, your announcement that B.C. would prevent the shipment of diluted bitumen for loading on to tankers at the Burnaby refinery. I understand you want to create an independent scientific panel to "study the effect" of this.

First off, John, neither the B.C. government nor any municipal government has the right to delay the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. That pipeline expansion has been approved by the federal government. Moreover, B.C. does not have the right to determine what sort of petroleum product is shipped in the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline. Your action to delay the Trans Mountain construction is unconstitutional. Interfering with what can be shipped in the existing pipeline is unconstitutional. "Ragging the puck," so to speak, will have consequences. Clearly, you don't give a damn about the Canadian Constitution. Fortunately, two can play at that game. So, here's what we're doing in Alberta.

Forest products can be very dangerous. There may be parasites in the wood. And if the wood burns, it can cause fires. And these fires can cause greenhouse gases. So, we're going to create a new regulatory and approval process for B.C. forest products to assess whether they are truly safe. As part of that process, we're going to create our own independent scientific panel to evaluate Alberta's ability to deal with potential parasites, fires and the other dangers of B.C. forest products crossing into Alberta. Until that process is complete, we are banning the shipment of all forest products from British Columbia by rail or road. Just as you think B.C. has every right to consult with British Columbians about Alberta bitumen and other petroleum shipments passing through B.C., we believe the Alberta government has every right to consult with Albertans on the best possible measures to protect our lands from the potential negative impact of B.C. forest products coming into Alberta.

Secondly, in addition to lumber, Alberta intends to set up an independent panel to evaluate the other goods and services that B.C. exports to Alberta and whether any of these other goods or services are dangerous. In addition to lumber, some of these products may also be dangerous and have considerable environmental and social impacts. Until our consultation process has been completed and a regulatory regime has been established, we cannot allow B.C. manufactured goods to pass through our province by road or rail.

Third, we're going to create our own independent scientific panel to evaluate Alberta's ability to deal with a potential catastrophic accident involving B.C. natural gas that flows through pipelines from British Columbia through Alberta into the United States. Just like you in B.C., we have a duty to protect Albertans from the potential catastrophic dangers of the British Columbian natural gas that passes through Alberta. And just like B.C., we have every right to consult with Albertans on the best possible measures to protect our lands from the potential impacts of this dangerous product. Until our scientific panel has concluded its evaluation, Alberta will be revoking the permits that allow these shipments to pass through our borders.

Fourth, we have created an independent panel to assess the current permitting regime concerning oil and bitumen products that are currently shipped from Edmonton to Burnaby. Regrettably, this may involve suspending all petroleum shipments from Alberta to British Columbia for an extended period of time while our independent scientific panel assesses this issue. Unfortunately, as 90% of Vancouver gets its gasoline from the current Kinder-Morgan pipeline that transports Alberta oil to the refinery in Burnaby, it's conceivable that the price of gasoline may rise to $5.45 per litre from $1.45 per litre in Metro Vancouver within a month. Fortunately, Vancouver and Victoria have plenty of bike lanes for those who can't afford the increased price of gasoline. Besides, spring is coming!

Fifth, we're very concerned about the safety of B.C.-licensed motor vehicles that drive through Alberta. This includes automobiles, but it also includes trucks shipping goods manufactured in Asia or the U.S., on which products are transported through Alberta from B.C. Accordingly, all B.C. licensed motor vehicles will be inspected at the B.C./Alberta border and those that do not meet our stringent safety, environmental and social standards will be denied entry into Alberta. Clearly, you can appreciate that we have a duty to protect Albertans from a potential catastrophic accident caused by B.C. licensed motor vehicles in Alberta that are not compliant with our environmental, social and safety standards.

I suppose if any of these new initiatives are problematic for British Columbia, you can give Justin Trudeau a call and see if he can help you. But I warn you from personal experience, he'll talk a good talk, but he won't do anything.

By the way, will you be flying, driving or bicycling to the next NDP convention?