Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has vowed to "engage ferociously" if the federal government slips on the promised timeline for a new review of the embattled Trans Mountain expansion project.
The federal government gave the National Energy Board (NEB) 22 weeks to deliver a new report on the proposed pipeline, this time including the impact of increased tanker traffic on the West Coast.
At a press conference in Edmonton following the news, Notley said Alberta would not rejoin the national climate change plan until the Trans Mountain pipeline is built. She pulled Alberta out following the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that halted the project on grounds that consultation with First Nations had been inadequate, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet had made its decision without considering all the evidence.
"We will not tolerate any legal game-playing. We will hold Ottawa's feet to the fire," Notley promised. "We will campaign like never before to continue our work winning the hearts and minds of Canadians in a fight we are already winning."
WATCH: Notley addresses new review order
Another Canada-wide campaign
Asked how her government intends to put pressure on Ottawa, the premier said it will campaign across the country to ensure working people outside Alberta understand the urgency of the issue as much as Albertans do, and to strengthen the voices in "areas the federal government has to listen to." It's a tactic she has previously used in her efforts to convince Canadians of the project's national interest.
Notley said her government will watch the NEB process closely, examining the submissions other parties make and how the board responds to them. If her government suspects there is any "legal game-playing" at hand, she said it will use a suite of tools she was unwilling to disclose during the conference.
"Our immediate purpose is to get construction resumed," she explained, adding that an appeal of the federal court's decision is in no way, shape or form the best tool to do so. "It would take far too long and it's unpredictable. There's a way to work with the court decision that's in place, so that's the better route."
Notley further added she is confident that the federal government can meet requirements for meaningful consultation with First Nations in a process that can be "wrapped up in a way that supports the federal government going forward," though it may involve more accommodations.
"We take note of the fact that the court said much of the work has already been done, but much more needs to be done," Notley said. "But the NEB process is the part that has been our concern, that it be used as a forum to play legal games to drag it out indefinitely."
Notley called the 22-week deadline "reasonable," but promised to "engage ferociously" if the timeline starts to slip. Her government, she said, would have liked to see a legislative approach to addressing the NEB process, one that protects the pipeline expansion from "any further intervention by the courts."
The federal government has yet to explain fully how it will make up for its constitutional failure to consult First Nations impacted by the pipeline expansion.