Opponents of Bill C-69 are holding a rally in front of the McDougall Centre in Calgary Thursday afternoon, calling on the federal government to suspend the bill.
Bill C-69, which still needs Senate approval, would completely overhaul energy project reviews in Canada. The bill would replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator and create a new Impact Assessment Agency.
The bill would introduce new timelines and require specific steps that companies and governments will have to take in order for new energy projects to go ahead.
Opponents of the bill said they’re concerned it will hurt investment in the country and “sends the wrong message” to oil and gas companies.
According to rally co-organizer, Cody Battershill with Canada Action, the rally will highlight their concerns that the bill would make Canada less competitive in the energy sector.
“This legislation doesn’t fit the message that the country is concerned about the energy sector… it sends the opposite… that Canada is not open for business,” Battershill said.
“No company will want to invest here,” he said.
Battershill and other opponents believe the bill will prevent future large-scale energy infrastructure projects.
“Today’s message is that we need to take a balanced approach to new regulations that will impact our resource centre,” Battershill said at the rally. “Millions of Canadians work in our natural resources and this new bill, Bill C-69, is going to create uncertainty and cause further job loss, and will cause further lack of investment in our resource centre.
Rally speakers included elected members from both sides of the floor, including Calgary MLA Brian Malkinson and Opposition Leader Jason Kenney.
Two provincial cabinet ministers are heading to Ottawa to speak to senators to push against the bill. Malkinson said he’s hopeful that the ministers will make their voices heard.
“I am very optimistic,” he said. “Industry has been clear and our ministers have been clear that there are definitely some problems with the bill.
“I am optimistic the Senate will see the wisdom that we’re trying to make.”
In a statement issued to Global News, Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd called the bill a “major overreach of federal jurisdiction” into the province’s right to develop and control resources.
“Bill C-69, in its current form, stands to hurt our competitive position,” she added. “We’re going to keep fighting for changes to get this legislation fixed.”
On the flip side, proponents of the bill said it streamlines the process and it will protect the environment, he said.
According to Duane Bratt, political analyst at Mount Royal University, the piece of legislation has been very controversial in Alberta but it’s unlikely the Senate will block it.
“It’s been passed by the House of Commons so it’s sitting in the Senate right now. The Senate rarely blocks legislation but it has at certain moments in time,” he said.
“This raises all sorts of democratic issues because the House of Commons is the elected body and the Senate is the appointed body,” he said.
The “Kill Bill C-69” rally took place on Thursday afternoon with several hundred people in attendance.