Premier Rachel Notley thanked a group of 100 British Columbia businesspeople who flew to Edmonton Thursday to show their support for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a poke in the eye to B.C. Premier John Horgan.
"My friends, your being here beside us, standing up for our country and standing for working Canadians — it is a gesture that Albertans will not forget," Notley told delegates at a noontime speech.
"We are neighbours. We are allies. We are Canadians through and through. I'm going to keep doing everything I can to see this project through and I know that you will too."
The "Federation Flight" was organized by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and the chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary.
When they arrived in Edmonton, the B.C. delegates were taken by bus to the Alberta legislature where they posed for pictures with Notley, members of Notley's cabinet, and United Conservative Party MLAs Ric McIver and Nathan Cooper.
The meeting came one day after the Alberta legislature passed Bill 12, which empowers the energy minister to cut off gasoline shipments to B.C.
Notley said Wednesday the measure will be used if the Horgan government continues to throw up roadblocks to the Trans Mountain expansion, which will increase shipments of diluted bitumen from Edmonton to a shipping terminal in Burnaby.
The project is opposed by environmental groups and some First Nations in B.C. They worry about the effects of a tanker spill on the B.C. Coast.
Project proponent Kinder Morgan cited political disagreements as a reason for setting May 31 as the date it will decide whether to go ahead with the $7.4-billion project.
Notley was asked Thursday about how B.C. businesspeople are reacting to the threat of the increased gasoline prices that could result if she decides to turn off the taps.
The premier said while Alberta is not trying to create economic hardship for its western neighbours, progress must be made on the pipeline for the sake of the Canadian economy.
"I'm sure they're not super-pumped about Bill 12, but at the same time, I think they see where we are headed with this," Notley said. " And at the end of the day, we share a common destination that we all want to get to."
Val Litwin, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, echoed that message.
Reaching 'fever pitch'
"It's reaching fever pitch and I think that's what the tactic is designed to do is to draw more attention to the urgency of this issue," Litwin said. "Certainly we don't want to see that happen."
B.C. Attorney General David Eby sent a letter to his Alberta counterpart Kathleen Ganley on Wednesday, warning his government will take Alberta to court if Bill 12 is proclaimed.
Ganley replied, stating Alberta is confident in its position.
"Banning imports is a fundamentally different action than controlling the export of our own resources and thus falls under two different constitutional authorities," she wrote.
Notley didn't seem concerned about Eby's threat.
"We feel pretty confident that we have authority to control the export of our resources under the constitution as a means of maximizing the return to the people of Alberta," she said.
"And so, we're going to go ahead with that on that basis."