File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announces he is retiring from politics during a press conference at the Legislative Building in Regina, Sask. The licence plate fight between Alberta and Saskatchewan threatened Thursday to escalate into a much bigger trade conflict. Alberta’s economic development minister hinted the province will invoke retaliatory measures on Saskatchewan’s plate ban, and Wall vowed that he’s ready to go toe-to-toe.

Alberta promises lawsuit, other “consequences” on Saskatchewan licence plate ban

EDMONTON — The licence plate fight between Alberta and Saskatchewan threatened Thursday to escalate into a much bigger trade conflict.

Alberta’s economic development minister hinted that the province will invoke retaliatory measures on Saskatchewan’s plate ban, and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall vowed that he’s ready to go toe to toe.

“We won’t be backing off on it,” Wall said in Regina. “We think it doesn’t necessarily violate trade agreements.”

He said Alberta has to look in the mirror on free trade, noting that it recently changed rules on craft beer taxes to help its own industry and has lobbied against open borders on procurement.

“If you’re going to live by the protectionist sword, you’re also going to have to face other provinces that will stand up and defend the interests of their economy and their sectors,” said Wall.

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan announced it was banning Alberta licence plates on trucks belonging to anyone working on future government road and infrastructure projects.

Saskatchewan Infrastructure Minister David Marit initially said the reason for the ban was because Alberta had similar rules for Saskatchewan workers.

Marit later added that it was also because Alberta doesn’t have a provincial sales tax, and making Alberta workers buy Saskatchewan plates puts workers in both provinces on a level playing field.

He said his advisers told him the ban “could be” a violation of the free trade New West Partnership, but he proceeded anyway, saying “I felt very strongly in protecting Saskatchewan companies.”

Marit said Alberta workers still will be allowed to bid on Saskatchewan projects, so long as they get Saskatchewan plates.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday she had spoken to Wall a day before the ban and Wall did not raise the issue. She said Saskatchewan’s reasons for the ban keep shifting, and said none of them hold water.

“I look forward to what the next explanation will be. I’m sure it will become increasingly entertaining,” Notley said following a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

“In either event, it doesn’t align with trade rules, it doesn’t align with good public policy, and it’s not good for job creation for anybody.”

Earlier Thursday, Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said that not only will Alberta sue Saskatchewan under free trade rules, the province is also looking at other measures outside of court to fight back.

“If they don’t walk this back in six days then there will be consequences,” Bilous said.

Bilous would not say what the consequences would be, but said a major stumbling block to getting the issue resolved is getting the Saskatchewan government to call him back.

“They still haven’t responded or picked up the phone,” said Bilous.

Bilous said there are no rules or restrictions in place on Saskatchewan workers on Alberta sites.

Service Alberta, the department that handles licences, says a non-resident needs to register a vehicle if the vehicle is in Alberta for six months or more. However, commercial vehicles and semis and trucks are not included in this requirement.

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Art on Red Deer billboard a reminder of aboriginal women’s strength

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s image is part of Resilience Project, shown from coast to coast

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month