LIBERALS’ BILL C-69 COULD DRAIN PIPELINE OF ITS WORTH
What would you call a government that pays $4.5 billion for a pipeline, then passes a law that stops it from getting built?
You’d probably call that government a pack of idiots. And you’d be right.
But this is actually a possibility now that Bill C-69 is about to advance to second reading in the Senate.
This bill, whose horrors are vividly described in Friday’s column by Licia Corbella, is widely condemned as a confusing mess that will ensure no major project is built in Canada again.
“If this passes, Canada will have a sign in the window saying ‘Closed for business,’” Alberta Sen. Doug Black said. “We might as well turn out the lights because investment will avoid Canada, period.”
In a report to be released soon, the Canada West Foundation said: “Today, our reputation as a place to invest is in tatters, and Bill C-69 is poised to make things worse.”
The report notes that since 2015, Canada’s oil, gas and mining investment has declined 32 per cent. That’s before Bill C-69 takes effect.
The bill not only revises and complicates rules for project approvals, inserting criteria up to and including gender issues, but creates an entirely new energy regulator to replace the National Energy Board.
That’s where the grave danger to the Trans Mountain pipeline lies.
Today, the project has no NEB approval following the recent rejection by the Federal Court of Appeal.
It will likely take months before court-ordered conditions are fulfilled and a second approval can be issued followed by a new cabinet order.
After that, there may be fresh court challenges.
Now, imagine if Bill C-69 comes into effect during this limbo period. The first thing any self-respecting activist would think of is a lawsuit demanding approval by the new regulator.
The whole business would have to start again under the new system.
“If you have a new regulator, it’s going to open up the whole thing to additional court challenges,” said Martha Hall Findlay, CEO of the Canada West Foundation.
“And then you have to build it (the regulator) up, staff it, establish its processes. That’s a huge, significant reason why C-69 should at the very least carve out the part about a new energy regulator. We simply can’t afford to have a new regulator at this point. Neither can the federal government.”
She said the Trudeau Liberals “are also increasingly worried about what’s going to happen. They know this is not going to be easy in the Senate.”
Hall Findlay was an Liberal member of Parliament from Ontario and twice a candidate for the Liberal leadership, including the contest won by Justin Trudeau in 2013. She always opposed the idea of a northern B.C. tanker ban and favoured environmentally approved pipelines. It didn’t always make her popular among federal Liberals.
Still, eyebrows shot up when she was named CEO of Canada West Foundation, the highly regarded, Calgary-based thinktank and advocate for western issues. What, a Liberal at Canada West?
There was no cause for alarm. She has no trouble calling this bill — and its companion horror, the so-called tanker moratorium bill — disastrous for the West and Canada itself.
In the report, she said, “If passed in its current, even amended form, it (C-69) could set Canada back for many years in terms of attracting investment and overall prosperity — at exactly the time when our competitiveness, particularly vis-a-vis our huge neighbour to the south, is in peril.”
She calls for a drastic policy revision by the Liberals: “The government could conclude that due to U.S. action, we need a national pivot to focus on economic issues.”
Bill C-69 should be pulled and then rebuilt from the ground up, she argues.
This beast should be ritually slaughtered in the Senate before it rises up and kills the Liberals’ own pipeline.
Canada West Foundation’s Martha Hall Findlay said C-69 will open the Trans Mountain expansion to more court challenges.