Calgary judge stays B.C. lawsuit against Alberta turn-off-the-taps legislation

A Calgary judge has stayed British Columbia’s lawsuit against Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps legislation, saying it’s not up to him to decide the constitutionality of Alberta’s law or adjudicate an interprovincial dispute.

B.C. filed a lawsuit against Alberta’s Bill 12 the day after it was proclaimed into law. It argues the law’s intention is to “inflict economic pain on British Columbia by limiting the supply of petroleum products,” in retaliation for B.C.’s perceived attempts to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

The legislation requires exporters to obtain licences, and gives Alberta’s energy minister the power to decide how much fuel is exported, how it’s transported — by pipeline, rail or tanker truck — and whether direct shipments to be stopped altogether.

“Ultimately, it is not up to me to determine jurisdiction or standing in the Federal Court, and I do not presume to do so,” wrote Justice R.J. Hall in his 10-page decision released Friday.

Hall said the Federal Court has jurisdiction over controversies between provinces.

However, he said B.C.’s attorney general may apply to remove the stay if for some reason the Federal Court declines jurisdiction or standing.

On June 14, B.C. filed a backup lawsuit in Federal Court, in case the province was found not to have standing in Alberta’s superior court.

In February, Justice Hall dismissed a similar lawsuit that B.C. filed against Bill 12 in May 2018, saying the action was premature because Alberta’s law had not yet come into force.

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