C-69 a threat to more than just pipelines
My hope? That the Trudeau government realizes it’s made a grave error by putting forward legislation that will cause greater problems.Albertans are more alarmed than other Canadians about Bill C-69, the most ambitious, aggressive and dangerous piece of legislation put forward by the Trudeau government.This doesn’t make us alarmist or wrong-headed. It means Albertans are ahead of the curve in understanding the industrykilling interplay between federal legislation, well funded groups that fiercely oppose industrial development and judicial activism in our courts.A new Abacus poll shows 63 per cent of Canadians believe the bill is a step in the right direction. In Alberta, however, 58 per cent say it’s going in the wrong direction.What do most Albertans know that other Canadians have yet to realize? We’ve seen how judges can take a piece of federal legislation and, sometimes rightly but sometimes wrongly, apply reasoning that will bring major industrial projects to a crashing end, often through the delay, delay, delay of endless legal proceedings.This happened with both theNorthern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline projects, decisions that the Trudeau government failed to appeal.As for C-69, it makes this dynamic far worse. It greatly increases the flaws of the current assessment practice, making it more partisan, less transparent, more time-consuming, more prone to the influence of well-funded foreign advocacy, and far more packed with red tape and social engineering dogma, with those iffy ideas now weaponized by giving them legal weight, which will lead to evermore-stifling court challenges.Indeed, C-69 is a recipe for major corporations in numerous fields of business to stay away from Canada.Can we kill it? Well, Albertans have made a tactical mistake in fighting C-69. We haven’t reached out enough to the numerous other industries hit by this legislation.As Senator Paula Simons of Edmonton stresses, this bill impacts everyone from the nuclear industry to wind farms, from the building of ports and bridges to hydro and electrical transmission. (Simons is a former Postmedia columnist.)“Hydro people are really concerned about what that means for the future of hydro,” she said. “We do a real disservice to everyone when we frame this as ‘just a pipeline’ bill. There are many, many more projects that could be affected by this that are going to be important to our energy future.“It’s not a pipelines bill. This is a bill that could, as written, make it impossible to get investment in a major wind farm if there’s a worry that the wind farm could affect migratory birds. It’s also a bill that could affect a high-speed rail corridor or a new port.”Here are other key points from Simons:The bill is a “badly-written piece of legislation.” It was meant to give companies certainty on all they had to do to succeed, but fails. “I think the saggy drafting of the bill doesn’t fix the problem it set out to fix.”When I complain to Simons about the huge injection of social engineering in a bill that should focus on environmental impacts and fairness to landowners, she says, “I confess, to me some of it does read a bit like virtue signalling gobbledygook.”A number of amendments to the bill are sensible and should also be saleable to both the Senate and possibly the House of Commons. But there are amendments that the government won’t back down on, such as the reference to gender-analysis of pipeline projects. “That’s not coming out. Could we get some better clarity of what it means? That’s what I’m pushing for.”Simons would like to see the stipulation that says businesses must consider other ways to do the project dropped.“That’s not logical,” she says of the clause. “You can’t tell people who are applying to run a river hydro (project) that they also have to consider how it would be if they made a wind farm instead.”What makes her the most grumpy, Simons said, is the lack of a project list. The government has not given the Senate criteria for which projects will be looked at and which will not.The bill won’t be killed by a Senate vote. “There aren’t nearly enough votes in the Senate to defeat the bill.”However, if enough senators fight against it, the bill could also stall and die before the next election, Simons said. “Which is the more realistic way of killing it, to just run the clock so that we never get to it.”My hope? That other Canadians dig into just how devastating this bill will be for industry and that the Trudeau government realizes it’s made a grave error by putting forward legislation that will cause far greater problems than it attempts to solve.
In Alberta, 58 per cent of people say Bill C-69 is a step in the wrong direction, writes David Staples.
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