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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will meet his counterpart in British Columbia on Thursday during a meeting of Western and territorial leaders in Edmonton – their first face-to-face encounter since a provincial election campaign that saw Mr. Kenney target Premier John Horgan for his opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The dispute between the two provinces, which predates Mr. Kenney and began almost immediately after Mr. Horgan’s NDP government was elected in 2017, has escalated since Mr. Kenney took office at the end of April. Alberta’s United Conservative premier has since threatened to cut off oil shipments to B.C. and launched a million-dollar ad campaign in the Vancouver region that blamed Mr. Horgan for high gasoline prices.

Mr. Kenney said he will use Thursday’s meeting to reiterate his position on the Trans Mountain expansion but will also seek to work with Mr. Horgan on other files, such as liquefied natural gas exports and the opioid crisis.

“I’ll certainly make that case [for the Trans Mountain pipeline] to him as persuasively as I can,” Mr. Kenney said Wednesday at an unrelated event in Edmonton.

“We will obviously have a clear difference of opinion on TMX, as did the previous Alberta government. But that shouldn’t inhibit us from trying to find common ground on other issues.”

Thursday’s event will include the premiers of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and all three territories. It comes two weeks before a wider meeting of all of Canada’s premiers in Saskatoon.

Mr. Kenney’s campaign in the spring election focused in large part on fighting back against perceived opponents of pipelines and the Alberta oil sector, including Mr. Horgan. In his first cabinet meeting after he was sworn in, Mr. Kenney proclaimed legislation, passed by the previous government but never enacted, that allows Alberta to cut off oil shipments to other provinces.

Mr. Horgan played down the dispute and attempted to strike a conciliatory tone ahead of the meeting, noting there are a range of issues on the agenda the two provinces can work together on, including wildfires, mental health and addictions.

“Will we discuss energy issues? I rather expect we will,” Mr. Horgan told reporters at an event at a school in North Vancouver. “But I can’t predict how that will go.”

Mr. Horgan won his province’s election two years ago on a platform that promised to use “every tool in the toolbox” to block the Trans Mountain expansion, which he has argued would endanger the province’s coast.

B.C. joined a wide-ranging Federal Court of Appeal case that ultimately overturned Ottawa’s approval of the pipeline, though the province’s arguments were rejected.

Mr. Horgan’s government also asked the province’s Appeal Court whether it has the power to regulate oil shipments through B.C. The court said no, though Mr. Horgan has promised to appeal.

And B.C. is currently challenging legislation that would allow Alberta to cut off oil shipments, which Mr. Kenney has threatened to do as punishment for perceived obstruction of the Trans Mountain project.

The federal government, which now owns the Trans Mountain pipeline, issued a new approval for the expansion project last week. Construction is expected to resume by September.

Moshe Lander, a former economist with the Alberta government who teaches at Concordia University, said Thursday’s meeting is a chance for the Western and territorial premiers to form a united message heading into the cross-Canada meeting in Saskatoon next month. He said the premiers will need to be careful not to let the B.C.-Alberta dispute overshadow other issues.

“You’re not going to be able to come to some sort of resolution [on the pipeline issue] right now,” he said in an interview.

“The idea right now is that the Western and territorial premiers should get their position solidified because they’re going to come into the full premier’s meeting and have to confront Eastern Canada. In that sense, the overshadowing of those issues is really just weakening their collective position.”

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