by Rick Peterson
The future of Canada’s resource industry today sits in the hands of Canada’s 95 Senators.
Bill C-69, known as the “Impact Assessment Act”, is the federal government’s attempt to impose new “environmental assessment” measures on Canada’s resource sector.
It’s terrible legislation.
It will further delay and discourage investment in Canadian pipelines, mines and other resource infrastructure. It imposes a “green agenda”, new layers of bureaucracy, higher costs, longer delays and more uncertainty on Canada’s resource sector.
Nobody is against tough, fair and clear resource regulation. Investors, provincial energy ministers, “suits” and “boots” in the mining and energy sectors, think-tanks and key stakeholders in Canada all agree on that.
But that’s not what they find in C-69. Instead, they get a short-sighted, confused and terribly written proposal. And that’s why these stakeholders have unanimously given C-69 a thumbs-down.
Yet, this Bill sailed through the House of Commons before the summer break, assured of passage with the current Liberal government majority.
We must kill this Bill in the Senate of Canada – where it currently sits. If not, Bill C-69 will be the hammer that nails shut the coffin on resource sector investment in our country.
The Senate indeed has the power to kill C-69 in the next few weeks. The Senate has a track record in this domain. It’s used this power to kill or turn back more than 200 bills since Confederation.
In 1988 it opposed the Free Trade Bill, forcing a general election that year. It opposed the GST. It rejected the Commons bill restricting abortion (C-43), a proposal to streamline federal agencies (C-93), and a bill to redevelop Pearson airport (C-28). And in December 2010 it rejected Bill C-311 on greenhouse gas regulation – the majority Conservatives beat it on a vote of 43-32.
Today there are 95 sitting Senators, so 48 Senate votes are needed to kill this Bill. There are 31 Conservative Senators who will all very likely oppose C-69. That means that an additional 17 Senate votes only are needed from the remaining 64 Senators – 11 Liberal, 45 Independent and 8 Non-Affiliateds.
It’s not enough to send this Bill back to the House with amendments. As Senator Doug Black recently told the Financial Post, “this bill is so seriously flawed – you’d have to have hundreds of amendments.” He points out strong resistance to C-69 from energy, mining, forestry and port expansion projects.
So, Suits and Boots and its supporters have been calling each and every one of these 64 Senators urging them to Kill Bill C-69. Here’s why:
- The proposed law was introduced by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change – not by the Minister of Natural Resources. It was reviewed by the House environment committee rather than the energy committee, and only had minimal witness hearings from the energy department.
- The Bill also contains a clause that will require new resource projects to be scrutinized according to “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors.” Seriously.
- This Bill clearly gives the federal Environment Minister added discretionary power on deciding whether a project goes ahead or not. Foreign investors will clearly see this for what it really is: a vague, long, expensive and politically motivated decision making process.
- The Business Council of BC says this proposed law will lead to “greater difficulty securing permits… heightened uncertainty among company managers, project developers and investors.” The Council says Bill C69 will help “accelerate outflows of business investment to other jurisdictions”.
- Project review timelines will be extended from an already slow 4 years, on average, by another 8-10 months. All this while American regulators are moving to two-year timelines.
- Bill C-69 imposes new geographic and upstream/downstream criteria on Greenhouse Gas Emission standards. This effectively takes away provincial government authority on natural resource development or exploration and is largely out of control of pipeline companies.
- Fuzzy scientific standards being imposed by Bill C-69 make it unclear if they are the same for both indigenous and non-indigenous bodies who will be doing assessments.
- New and relaxed public input standards for participation in hearings sets the bar so low that it’s easy to see a huge influx of poorly informed, politically stacked and repetitive presentations. This obviously favours opponents of resource projects who have the time, money and support from offshore sources.
- The Bill contains a clause that sets a dangerous precedent by turning Canada’s voluntary commitments in climate change into legal obligations that could be used against us by our trading partners.
- Bill C-69 falls far short of setting enough support for proponents of resource development during the review process. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application had 8,800 pages describing the negative effects on local communities – but just two pages on its economic, fiscal and energy benefits. This won’t change under C-69.
You can help kill C-69 today! Please tell them to Kill Bill C-69. Here is the list of Senators to call: https://suitsandboots.ca/senator-list-to-kill-bill-c-69/.
From now until October 10th, first thing of every work day morning, we will be sending out to our supporters the contact info of three different Senators that we’re asking them to call. If you’d like to be on our email list, please click here: https://suitsandboots.ca/contact-us/
C-69 must die in the Senate. If not, resource sector investment in Canada will die on the vine.
Rick Peterson is founder of Suits and Boots (www.suitsandboots.ca), a national not-for-profit group of investment industry professionals who support Canada’s resource sector.