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'It makes it unpassable': Alberta Energy Minister on rejected amendments to Bill C-69
Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage is expressing her discontent after the federal government rejected the majority of amendments proposed by Conservative senators to Bill C-69.
The bill would make the approval process more stringent for pipelines and other energy projects.
A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to CTV News that the government has concluded most of the proposals by Conservative senators that were designed to weaken the bill, after going through every amendment, which was187 by one count.
More than 90 per cent of proposed conservative changes were rejected including amendments that would make it harder to challenge a project’s approval in court and limit who can participate in public hearings.
“It makes it unpassable,” Savage said.
“That bill, to start with, was so pathetic, so terrible that it took the Senate 187 amendments to try and fix it so if the government is trying to cherry pick and pick out something like 100 amendments, that bill does not work.”
If it’s passed, Bill C-69 would allow the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, to intervene to lift time constraints placed on the review process of energy projects and appoint panelists who will review major projects.
Savage called the bill ‘pathetic and unconstitutional’ and added that the Alberta government will fight the bill in court if it is passed as law.
“It intrudes into areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. There’s a number of areas in the bill, there’s the project list, there’s the areas that allow the minister to add projects on that aren’t on this list, there’s a sustainability test, a climate change test, a number of tests that go beyond the federal jurisdiction.”
Senator Paula Simons confirmed to CTV News that the federal government did accept 62 Senate committee amendments, verbatim, to Bill C-69 and accepted another 37 after some tweaks.
“There were no conservative amendments, per se,” said Simons.
For now, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, along with five other premiers from Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, have co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to challenge Bill C-69.
“This week, six premiers wrote to the prime minister underlining our urgent concern and asking that he respect the constructive amendments brought forward by senators, including the majority of senators he appointed. And today, Premier Legault added Quebec’s opposition to the current form of the bill. Without substantial amendments, the bill clearly interferes in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and undermines the future of Canada’s energy sector, investor confidence and national unity,” said Kenney in a statement.
'It’s a first step,' says Savage, who says the majority of hard-working Canadians should have their voices heard.
“They’re taking us down a road that is going to irreparably harm Canada’s reputation as a place to invest and do business,” she said.
“We’re not going to get things done so we’re hopeful that the Senate is going to stand firm and they’re going to reject anything the federal government sends back to them unless it has the full 187 amendments.”
In the statement, Kenney said he is disappointed to hear that the federal government rejected the majority of amendments and that his message to the Prime Minister is simple…
“This is not a partisan issue – it is a matter of restoring international confidence in Canada at a time when our reputation as a place to invest is at risk. Without the Senate’s amendments, this bill will drive away more jobs and investment from Canada. It is not too late for the federal government, the House and the Senate to do the right thing and sustain the Senate’s amendments. It’s not too late to do the right thing.”
He also urged the federal government to listen to ‘job creators, many First Nations, provincial and territorial governments, and to the Senate of Canada’ and not to dismiss the work that has already been done.
For more on the status of Bill C-69, visit the Parliament of Canada website.
(With files from The Canadian Press)