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

Liberals win most seats in Election 2019

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is expected to remain prime minister but the… Continue reading

Union official: Fired Wisconsin school guard gets job back

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin school district is rehiring a black security… Continue reading

Trump bemoans GOP for not sticking together on impeachment

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans to “get tougher… Continue reading

Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder… Continue reading

Thunberg interviews leaders for documentary, Alberta Indigenous group says

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg continued her tour… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Liberals win most seats in Election 2019

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau is expected to remain prime minister but the… Continue reading

Catalan independence remains an obstacle for Spanish leaders

The demonstrations, some of them violent, are still going on in Catalonia… Continue reading

West Division playoff race still has no shortage of twists and turns

Finally, some clarity in the muddled West Division playoff picture. The Edmonton… Continue reading

Union official: Fired Wisconsin school guard gets job back

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin school district is rehiring a black security… Continue reading

Trump bemoans GOP for not sticking together on impeachment

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans to “get tougher… Continue reading

Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder… Continue reading

Thunberg interviews leaders for documentary, Alberta Indigenous group says

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg continued her tour… Continue reading

Most Read