Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Yukon Deputy Premier Ranj Pillai takes questions from the media as Alberta deputy premier Sarah Hoffman looks on at the Western Premiers’ Conference in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Wednesday.

Alberta refuses to sign statement at contentious western premiers meeting

YELLOWKNIFE — Alberta has refused to endorse the official statement stemming from the western premiers meeting in Yellowknife because it didn’t include support for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The final communique deals with issues such as pharmacare and legalization of marijuana.

Alberta deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said without the wealth that would flow from the expansion of the pipeline, all discussions on such issues are moot.

“All of this costs money and we have one way to ensure we have that money and those resources, and that is for us to move forward with this project in the national interest. That’s what I came here to do,” said Hoffman, who was attending the meeting Wednesday in place of Premier Rachel Notley

“Unfortunately we didn’t get consensus on Trans Mountain today.”

Alberta sees the federally approved pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta’s oilsands to the British Columbia coast, as key to unlocking lucrative overseas markets.

B.C. Premier John Horgan’s minority government is fighting the expansion in court. The province is worried about the threat of a major spill and the capacity to clean it up.

He said his position remains the same after the meeting.

“Certainly Alberta made their case as they always do in a strong and passionate way, and I laid out my concerns about risk and the court cases that we are currently enjoined in,” he said. “Beyond that, we did make great progress on a range of other issues important to British Columbians and western Canadians.”

The pipeline has driven a deep wedge between Alberta and B.C. and their respective NDP governments.

The Alberta government has passed legislation that allows it to reduce oil flowing to B.C., which could drive up gas prices and other fuel-related costs.

Notley said Tuesday she was skipping the meeting because her time was better spent in Edmonton making sure the project goes ahead.

Pipeline owner Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the project until it receives assurances it can proceed without delays. The company has set May 31 as a deadline for getting those guarantees.

Notley has argued that the lack of a pipeline is taking $40 million a day out of the Canadian economy.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister didn’t express his direct support for the pipeline, but said free trade between the provinces is important.

“We’ve got to get some of these 150-year-old issues dealt with and sooner rather than later,” he said. “We are taking money off the kitchen tables of Canadians every single day because we are not working effectively together as premiers.”

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