Senate committee passes majority of amendments for Bill C-69

Click to play video: 'Liberals look forward to improvements to Bill C-69: Trudeau' Liberals look forward to improvements to Bill C-69: Trudeau
May 10: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is looking forward to working with "a broad range" of groups to make improvements to Bill C-69 – May 10, 2019

After a thorough clause-by-clause review of hundreds of amendments to Bill C-69, a Senate committee has accepted a majority of the amendments to the Liberal bill that seeks to overhaul the environmental review process for new energy and transportation projects.

“Our energy and environment committee, which has been quite divided, came up with a compromise and we passed pretty much all the amendments,” Senator Paula Simons told Rob Breakenridge Thursday.

READ MORE: Controversial tanker ban Bill C-48 rejected by Senate committee — but it isn’t dead in the water

“We are now going to be reporting the bill to the Senate. This is the opposite of what happened on C-48, where there was no compromise that we didn’t report any bill.

LISTEN: Senator Paula Simons joins Rob Breakenridge to discuss Senate committee decisions on Bill C-48 and Bill C-69

The Alberta Independent Senator said there was much compromise in the committee process.

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“In this case, everybody had to give a little. Everybody actually had to give a lot. And we’ve come up with a package of amendments for the government to consider.”

Simons doubts the Liberal government will adopt all of the amendments that resulted from nationwide public consultations.

READ MORE: Senate introduces more than 130 changes to Liberals’ environmental assessment bill

“They won’t accept them all. I don’t think they should accept them all. There’s some amendments in that package that I vehemently disagree with.

“But the point is that we’ve got the bill out of committee where it had sort of been stalled by political infighting.”

Senator David Tkachuk, Conservative Senate critic for Bill C-69, said that despite concerns about the bill, the amendments vastly improved Bill C-69.

“It is now up to the government to show they’re serious and adopt the changes that have been passed by the Senate Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,” Tkachuk said in a statement.

READ MORE: Changes to Bill C-69 ‘critical’ for Canadian energy sector: Enbridge CEO

The contentious proposed legislation Alberta Premier Jason Kenney dubbed “the no more pipelines bill” could have lasting consequences for infrastructure projects of all types across Canada, Simons said.

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“If we get C-69 right, it means that any port, any pipeline, any new rail line would have to go through a rigorous environmental assessment,” Simons said Thursday.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney calls environment assessment bill a threat to national unity

“It’s too early to claim victory on these bills,” Kenney said Thursday in Calgary. “They still have to go back to the full Senate. But we clearly have momentum. The wind is in our sails.”

“The reports we have today are quite encouraging that all or most of the amendments put forward by the Alberta government and the energy industry have been accepted by the committee,” Kenney said.

“I believe there is a large and growing number in the Senate who are opposed to Trudeau’s no pipelines law, Bill C-69, but I’m not going to suggest this will be an easy fight.”

READ MORE: Some northern Alberta chiefs to support Bill C-69 at Senate hearing

Watch below: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responds to the Senate Transport Committee recommendation to kill Bill C-48.

Click to play video: '‘I would like to thank the senators who voted against Justin Trudeau’s attack on Alberta’: Kenney' ‘I would like to thank the senators who voted against Justin Trudeau’s attack on Alberta’: Kenney
‘I would like to thank the senators who voted against Justin Trudeau’s attack on Alberta’: Kenney – May 16, 2019

Kenney said he, Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Environment & Parks Minister Devin Dreeshen will be part of a “full court press” to influence Senators to vote down Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 in the coming weeks.

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Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley will also join lunchtime conversations with Alberta Senators next week, the party said in a statement.

“These two bills are full frontal attacks on Alberta’s jobs and and our economic future,” Kenney said.

READ MORE: Alberta premier applauds Senate committee’s decision to reject tanker ban

Even with another Senate committee outright rejecting Bill C-48 — the bill to ban tanker traffic off B.C.’s north coast — Simons said Canada’s west coast won’t see increased threats from oil tankers.

“If C-48 were to die on the order paper, say, it wouldn’t mean that the B.C. coast is suddenly at huge risk of oil tanker traffic,” Simons said.

“Any new port, any new pipeline or a rail line to ship bitumen would be subject to a vigorous impact assessment,” she said. “And that’s as it should be.”

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