‘Substantial Amendments’ Required To C-69: Senate Review Committee Vice-Chair

Trans Mountain pipeline

With Bill C-69, Justin Trudeau’s federal government has “pretty well declared war on the oil and gas industry,” according to Michael MacDonald, vice-chair of the Senate committee that is touring cross-country to hear from Canadians about the proposed legislation.

The Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is in Calgary today and heard from industry representatives as well as Chief Roy Fox of the Blood Tribe in this morning’s first sessions.

On the sidelines of the hearing, MacDonald told the DOB that the bill to overhaul Canada’s review process for major natural resources projects requires major changes.

“If we don’t substantially amend this bill, it is catastrophic for the country’s oil and gas industry,” he said.

“We have a 75-cent dollar, the investment should be flowing into this country instead of the States. They have a much more powerful dollar, but they’re much more competitive. Their industry is growing and ours is contracting. It doesn’t make any sense.

“Let’s face it, the federal government has pretty well declared war on the oil and gas industry, and we have to push back. They don’t seem to understand or appreciate the negative impact of this legislation on the industry and all the natural resources industries. This is a pan-national issue even though the impact is most keenly felt on the ground in Alberta.”

MacDonald, who is from Cape Breton, N.S., is one of six Conservative senators on the committee; there are also seven independent/non-affiliated senators and one Liberal.

“This bill is so bad at the moment that if this was the first year of the government’s mandate or the second year, I think we’d have to go to the wall to try to defeat this bill for the damage it would inflict on this country in the next couple of years,” MacDonald said.

“But it’s the last part of this government's mandate, and we have a new election in the fall. I hope we get it amended; I think the big question for Canadians this year is doing something about the government in Ottawa and getting people in power who will look out for the best economic interests of this country.”

The committee had previously proposed to deliver its report on C-69 back to the full Senate by May 9, and while MacDonald said there is some flexibility built into the timeline in order to help the committee go through the multitude of amendments being proposed, he doesn’t expect any major delay.

“We certainly expect to get the bill back to the Senate for third reading in a relatively timely fashion. I’m sure there will be substantial amendments.”

The hearing continues this afternoon in Calgary before moving this week to Fort McMurray, Saskatoon and Winnipeg and then to Eastern and Atlantic Canada.

Read more on today’s hearings in tomorrow’s DOB.