Canada’s senators have given the thumbs-up to Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, which sets up a new authority to assess industrial projects, such as pipelines, mines and inter-provincial highways, for their effects on public health, the environment and the economy.
Bill C-69 passed Thursday night by a vote of 57-37.
The bill is set to go to Royal Assent after a motion by Sen. Grant Mitchell to keep the Senate from insisting on amendments that the House of Commons didn’t agree to.
Watch below (June 12): Liberals to reject most Tory amendments to Bill C-69
The move came after Senate passed 188 amendments to the bill earlier this month.
The governing Liberals accepted 99 of those amendments – 62 were accepted as they were written, and another 37 were accepted with several changes.
Conservative Sen. Richard Neufeld called C-69 “one of the most toxic, polarizing and divisive bills” he’s encountered in 10 years as a senator.
Energy ministers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario said June 12 that many of the amendments that were struck down would have made Bill C-69 more palatable for the resource sector. They wanted the amendments taken as a complete package.
The federal government, however, said it believed some would have allowed a new Impact Assessment Agency to decide not to consider the impacts on Indigenous people or climate change when assessing a project. Other changes would have restricted limits on who can participate in an assessment hearing, as well as made it harder to challenge a project approval in court.
The prime minister responded June 12, saying the legislation is necessary to get energy projects built in Canada.
“The conservatives still seem to think that the way to get big projects built is to ignore Indigenous peoples and ignore environmental concerns,” Justin Trudeau said. “That didn’t work for 10 years under Stephen Harper, and it’s certainly not going to work now.
“That’s why we we had to change the process.”
Watch below (June 12): Energy ministers condemn feds after majority of Bill C-69 amendments rejected
The legislation split opinion among senators from Alberta.
Sen. Paula Simons voted in favour, tweeting that she “would and could never have supported it as it first came to us.”
“But tonight, we passed a dramatically different bill than the one that met me when we arrived here.”
Less enthusiastic about the bill’s passage was Sen. Doug Black.
“Tonight the Senate has chosen to keep the ‘closed for business’ sign in the window of Canada by adopting Bill C-69,” he tweeted.
This is bad for Canada and I will continue to work for our collective family business – the natural resource sector.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said it was “a bad day for our economy, and the Canadian federation.”
In a message on Twitter, Kenney said: “This means the No More Pipelines Law will become law.”
In a second tweet, Kenney thanked the 37 Senators who “voted for common sense by opposing C-69, including Alberta Senators Black, Tannas and McKoy,” and said he was “very disappointed that Alberta Senators Mitchell, Simons and Laboucane-Benson voted in favour of this bad version of a bill that will hurt our province.”
Watch below: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calls the passage of bills C-48 and C-69 an attack on Alberta.
The federal environment minister had a different take on the bills’ passage.
Watch below (June 12): Pipeline capacity at heart of C-69, C-48 debate
Earlier Thursday, the Senate approved Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which will formalize a moratorium on oil tanker traffic of a certain size in waters from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the province’s border with Alaska.
It was a close vote, with 49 Senators voting in favour of the controversial bill, 46 voting against and one abstaining.
The passage of the bill in the Senate means it will now proceed to Royal Assent and become law.
C-69 and C-48 were among a long list of bills the Senate pounded through late into the night Thursday as the chamber prepared to adjourn for the summer and the subsequent election.
But Canadians haven’t heard the last about the pair of bills. They’re both destined to be fodder for Liberals and Conservatives on the campaign trail to this fall’s election.
— With files from Global’s Adam MacVicar and The Canadian Press’ Mia Rabson