The Liberal government will consider amendments to two contentious environmental bills working their way through the Senate.
But they will only do so if those amendments don’t seek to defeat the purpose of the bills, and one Liberal says senators considering whether to kill the legislation should keep in mind that they are not elected.
“We actively campaigned on this commitment and Canadians elected a government that plans specifically to implement this,” said Sean Fraser, parliamentary secretary for the environment minister and MP for Central Nova. “I will not tell the Senate what to do … but I would remind them that when it comes to the measures including Bill 48, these are measures that Canadians voted for.”
He added, “I hope the Senate takes seriously that point of view when considering the recommendation of the Senate committee.”
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Proponents say the bills are needed to protect the environment and foster more responsible energy development amid climate change.
Critics argue they will strangle energy investments and have a devastating impact on future developments in the struggling Alberta oil industry.
Both bills are set to face a final vote in the Senate over the coming weeks.
Senators on the committee studying C-48 recommended earlier this month that the Senate reject the bill in its coming final vote, which would be a death blow if senators accept that recommendation — though it is far from guaranteed they will do so.
C-69 was significantly amended by the committee studying that bill and if the Senate passes the amended version, the government will need to decide which amendments it might accept and which it will reject. Both chambers must pass identical versions of the bill before it can go on to become law.
Fraser said the government will consider those amendments “in good faith.”
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“The purpose of the Senate is to improve legislation in my opinion and to the extent that they recommend amendments that will do that, we’d be happy to think about incorporating them,” he said, but cautioned senators should carefully consider the impact of killing government bills.
“I sincerely hope that the Senate when considering the recommendations of the committee understand that the will of the democratically elected government [is] to pass this legislation and they give serious thought to the position that the government has advanced before simply throwing the bill out the window.”
Both bills are expected to come under considerable spotlight as parliamentarians return this week for the final month of the spring sitting.
The next four to five weeks will be the last chance to pass legislation before the House of Commons and the Senate rise for the summer.
They are not scheduled to resume until after the election in October.