LIB­ER­ALS’ BILL C-69 COULD DRAIN PIPE­LINE OF ITS WORTH

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - DON BRAID Don Braid’s col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in the Her­ald.

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.

That’s op­ti­mistic.

This beast should be rit­u­ally slaughtered in the Se­nate be­fore it rises up and kills the Lib­er­als’ own pipe­line.

CHRIS MIKULA

Canada West Foun­da­tion’s Martha Hall Find­lay said C-69 will open the Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion to more court chal­lenges.

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