BURNABY, B.C. — A city in British Columbia wants Saskatchewan's justice minister to withdraw comments suggesting it "is deliberately slowing down" the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
A lawyer acting for Burnaby sent a letter to Don Morgan saying city officials hope he was misquoted in a statement published Friday by a Regina newspaper.
The letter says if the comments were made, Morgan is "misinformed" because the city is proceeding with the regulatory process in good faith.
The city hasn't issued the necessary permits to allow Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (TSX:KML) to expand its pipeline from the Edmonton area to a tank farm and port in Burnaby, near Vancouver.
Saskatchewan has applied for intervener status in National Energy Board hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Morgan says he is advocating in Saskatchewan's interests.
"In this particular one, our role is as counsel for the province and we will advocate for our province and for our industry to the maximum that we can," he said in Regina on Monday.
"I'd urge the city of Burnaby to sit down and focus on what they can do to speed up their process as much as they can."
Kinder Morgan wants the National Energy Board to clear the way for work on the Burnaby portion of the pipeline expansion. Saskatchewan argues the interprovincial pipeline already has federal regulatory approval and should proceed.
Morgan made his initial comments about the pace of permit approvals by Burnaby in a news release issued by the Saskatchewan government.
He followed up on Monday by arguing that other energy projects have been scuttled because of delays and he doesn't want anything to happen that could jeopardize the Trans Mountain project.
"We're looking at what is the right thing to do for Canada and for Western Canada, and that is getting our oil to tidewater," he added.
City officials say it is inappropriate for Morgan to prejudge a matter because the statements "may have the effect of influencing" a court or regulatory tribunal.
Burnaby's letter to Morgan says as Saskatchewan's senior legal representative, he should be impartial in the administration of justice.
"The city of Burnaby regulatory process has been applied in good faith, as the evidence will readily show in the motion before the NEB," says the letter dated Monday, adding the city believes it and its professional staff are owed an apology.
"We would ask that you reconsider the propriety of your comment, and withdraw it on the record."
Kinder Morgan has applied to the energy board for an order allowing work to begin without permits from Burnaby on the $7.4 billion project, and has also applied for an "expedited determination" to resolve similar problems in future.
British Columbia and Alberta have joined Saskatchewan in requesting intervener status at the hearing, the board said last week.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is going to stump for the project later this month with speaking engagements in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
The expansion would more than triple the pipeline's daily capacity 890,000 barrels and increase the number of oil tankers moving through the Georgia Strait.
Kinder Morgan officials have said delays in the project have the potential to cost millions of dollars and push the expansion nine months behind schedule.
— By Beth Leighton in Vancouver with files from Jennifer Graham in Regina.