As Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau promoted the federal budget inside Calgary’s Fairmont Palliser hotel on Monday, protesters shouted “pipelines for Canada!” across the street.
Signs read “Kill Bill C-69” in black lettering over a yellow background with Uma Thurman’s Bride character plastered on.
Bill C-69 would change how projects such as oil and gas pipelines are reviewed.
Non-partisan pro-oil group Canada Action organized the protest in hopes that the minister will hear their pleas for energy sector support — specifically, getting the Trans Mountain project off the ground.
“Line 3 is delayed, Keystone is delayed, Northern Gateway is cancelled, Energy East is cancelled and Trans Mountain is stalled,” said Canada Action founder Cody Battershill.
“Why do we need to take 30 or 60 or 90 days? Once the renewed Indigenous consultations are done, commit to getting that pipeline back under construction within a week.”
With Morneau in town speaking at the Economic Club of Canada luncheon, Battershill said the feds are listening.
“I think the government is understanding that they do need to take a balanced approach,” he said. “We’re hoping to see some movement on Bill C-69. The Senate is going to be travelling across the country. These are all positive steps. We’re seeing the momentum going in the right direction.”
Whitecap Resources employee Renee Pozzo took her son Maxwell Pozzo to the protest as a learning opportunity.
“We’re impacted from out in the fields all the way into the offices and administration,” she said. “It’s important for us to show our support for Canadian oil.
“In our industry, we’ve seen cutbacks with drilling. We’ve seen so many friends and people lose their jobs over the last couple of years here.”
Inside the hotel, Morneau said the only way to build the pipeline is to do it correctly, saying engagement with those affected is critical in that pursuit.
On how pipeline projects are approved — a.k.a. the contentious Bill C-69 — Morneau said Canadians have two choices: consider all issues so the plan is airtight or use a more narrow approach.
“We might get to the conclusion more quickly [with the latter approach] but there might be arguments that we didn’t consider everything along the way,” he said. “Our view is to find a way to consider everything through the process. I also realize that, as we do that, we need to listen to experts to make sure we’re getting the information we need.”
The bill is currently going through the Senate, and Morneau said amendments to it are happening because of consultation with industry leaders.
“We’ve heard from many, many voices in the sector and those voices are being acknowledged through the process that we’re going through right now,” he said.
Morneau said there is always give and take in lawmaking, but he’s optimistic about the outcome.
“I’m not here to argue that it’s easy, and I’m not here to argue that we’ve got a magic solution,” he said.
Morneau said he recognized Alberta’s economic troubles and pointed to investments that the Liberal government has made in energy infrastructure.
“There is no answer than doesn’t include meaningful engagement,” he said. “We’ve been very clear that we see the importance of getting our resources to international markets. We’ve also been very clear that the only way these projects can get done is if they’re done in the right way.”