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Alberta Notley frustrated with federal government for inaction on Trans Mountain pipeline

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley visits Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex, in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Jan. 10, 2019.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley expressed frustration again Monday about a lack of progress in completing the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Ms. Notley’s comments came after a federal cabinet shuffle that left Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi in his portfolio.

She said that’s probably a good thing as removing Mr. Sohi before the outcome of a court-ordered Indigenous consultation by the National Energy Board would be likely to cause even further delay.

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“Albertans still need the federal government to step up and support the industry while we are trying to get through this ridiculousness of having not enough capacity to get our oil and gas to market,” Ms. Notley said.

“We’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about rail. We’ve talked about other interim programs that could come into place, and we’re disappointed we’ve not heard anything from the federal government yet.”

Ms. Notley announced late last year that her government will buy rail cars to transport an additional 120,000 barrels a day, which would increase the amount of oil being moved by rail in Canada by one-third.

Discussions about a purchase agreement are continuing, she said.

She was asked whether the current Liberal government should receive another mandate from voters in a federal election expected later this year.

“The facts of the matter is that the previous government, which happened to be from a different political party, also didn’t get it done,” she said.

“Quite honestly, the considerations that have led to the ridiculousness that Albertans are so frustrated with right now … has been in the making for decades.”

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The federal government bought Trans Mountain and its expansion project for $4.5-billion last summer only to have the Federal Court of Appeal strike down the energy board’s approval. The court said there had been inadequate Indigenous consultation and failure to consider the effects on the marine environment.

The board’s final report needs to be submitted to the federal cabinet by Feb. 22.

Ms. Notley said partisanship should have nothing to do with support for the resource sector, which is an economic engine for the rest of Canada.

The current federal government has at least accomplished one thing, she said.

“There was decades of factors that were at play, which led to the instability that jeopardized that project. We did get the federal government to buy the pipeline. That’s not nothing. There is a vested interest they have now in getting this darn thing built.”

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