Alberta set to fight back Thursday on Saskatchewan licence plate ban

EDMONTON — Alberta says it will take action on two fronts Thursday in its escalating fight with Saskatchewan over the ban on Alberta licence plates on Saskatchewan job sites.

Deron Bilous, Alberta’s economic development minister, said unless Saskatchewan relents he will launch a formal application under the New West Partnership.

He said Saskatchewan’s licence plate ban is a clear violation of the agreement that calls for a barrier-free interprovincial market between the four western provinces.

“They have until midnight tonight to smarten up, come to their senses and walk this back or we will be filing a trade injunction,” Bilous said Wednesday.

Bilous has previously suggested there would be other retaliatory measures and said details on those would be addressed Thursday.

Last week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s government announced it would ban vehicles with Alberta licence plates on any future Saskatchewan government road and building construction sites.

It has given multiple reasons for the ban.

Last week, Saskatchewan Infrastructure David Marit said the reason was because Alberta had similar rules for Saskatchewan workers. Bilous said those rules don’t exist.

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

Wall himself suggested it was payback after Alberta changed rules on craft beer taxes to help its own industry and lobbied against open borders on procurement.

Bilous said he spoke on Tuesday with Marit and Saskatchewan Trade Minister Steven Bonk but they could not provide a credible rationale for the ban.

“They were all over the map as far as the reasons behind doing this, citing Alberta not having a PST,” said Bilous.

“They listed a couple of other examples, but weren’t able to provide any concrete examples of Alberta contractors or Alberta tenders forcing Saskatchewan contractors to change their plates.”

Bonk said they have anecdotal evidence.

“We’re hearing loud and clear from the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association as well as some of our contractors that this is a real issue for them,” said Bonk.

“This is a measure to protect Saskatchewan companies. We just want to level the playing field.”

Bonk said he was a bit taken aback that Alberta was moving ahead with the formal protest under the New West Partnership after the talk with Bilous.

“I thought we had quite a productive conversation,” said Bonk.

“We’re a little bit surprised by that because when we left the call yesterday we were under the impression that we agreed to meet in the new year, in January, to discuss this further.”

Bilous also accused Saskatchewan of applying the licence plate ban to not only new contracts as promised, but also to existing ones.

Bonk said that is not the case.

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

licence plate

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

More than 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta Wednesday, according to multiple reports. (File photo)
Over 400 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday

3,372 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.
Map contributed
$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, thinks a lot of people would love to focus on something other than the pandemic, with a few hours of entertainment. (Contributed photo).
Some Red Deer-area shows will go on — with new pandemic precautions

Some theatrical productions are happening under new rules

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer will be at the legislature Thursday to urge members of the UCP caucus to drop the plan to consolidate EMS dispatch by Jan. 4. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer mayor takes EMS consolidation fight to Edmonton

Mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo to address UCP caucus on Thursday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Mighty Heart is held outside trainer Josie Carroll's stable by exercise rider Des McMahon, as the colt is washed down after being breezed at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on October 15, 2020. Mighty Heart will make his Triple Crown quest from the the No. 8 post Saturday. The Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales champion was named the even-money favourite in the draw Wednesday for the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro watches during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, February 24, 2017/ Short on specifics and long on bullishness, Shapiro set an optimistic tone during his first general media availability since the team was eliminated from the post-season a few weeks ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Liverpool's Fabinho, saves from the goal line after a header from Ajax's captain Dusan Tadic from scoring during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Liverpool at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Toronto Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone raises the Betfred Championship Trophy alongside teammates after defeating the Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game in Betfred Championship rugby league action in Toronto on October 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Kansas City Chiefs' Demarcus Robinson (11) holds off Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White (27) as Bills' Justin Zimmer (61) also pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

Most Read