Alberta premier will hold Ottawa's 'feet to the fire' if Trans Mountain consultation goes beyond 22 weeks

Alberta premier will hold Ottawa's 'feet to the fire' if Trans Mountain consultation goes beyond 22 weeks

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the additional 22-week consultation period on the stalled Trans Mountain pipeline is "reasonable" and likely the most timely option for restarting the project.

Notley said in Edmonton on Friday that her government's preference was for a legislative option to close loopholes in the National Energy Board's consultation process, so that rulings can't be appealed indefinitely. 

The premier said she accepts the timeline, since it is in line with the ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal, but insisted she will be watching to ensure the deadline is met.  If it isn't, Notley said, Alberta will push back. 

"We will not tolerate legal game playing," said Notley, who admitted she remains skeptical. "And should it start to appear that game playing is working, we will hold Ottawa's feet to the fire."

She reminded the federal government that Alberta will not take part in the national climate-change plan until the project is approved. 

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Friday he couldn't provide a time for when construction might resume. The government is still deciding whether to appeal the Federal Court ruling.

Notley said relying on an appeal isn't the best option as it would take too long with unpredictable results.

The review will look at the effect of the expansion on the resident killer whale population. The timeline and process for additional consultation with Indigenous people will be announced soon, the federal government said.

The $7.4-billion project,  which would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline running from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., has been in limbo since late August, when the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the federal government's approval of the project, saying there hadn't been enough meaningful consultation with Indigenous people.

The day the court ruling was released, Notley demanded Ottawa immediately file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada and recall Parliament for an emergency session. She also pulled Alberta out of the national climate change plan until "the federal government gets its act together." 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Alberta premier in Edmonton on Sept. 5.

United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney is in India this week, so deputy leader Leela Aheer reacted on behalf of the caucus.

In a news release, Aheer said Trudeau rejected Alberta's "two modest asks" to appeal the decision and come up with a legislative solution, leaving Albertans with no sense as to when construction will resume. 

"With a 22-week National Energy Board review and later federal Cabinet deliberations, it seems no decision will be made until end of May 2019 at the very earliest," she said. " In fact, one is left wondering if prime minister Trudeau is planning to delay his decision until after the fall 2019 federal election."