Kenney says bills C-48, C-69 ‘prejudicial attack on Alberta’; bring referendum on equalization closer

Click to play video: 'Passage of these bills brings equalization challenge closer: Kenney'
Passage of these bills brings equalization challenge closer: Kenney
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Senate passing two bills he says are prejudicial attacks on Alberta make a challenge of equalization payments closer to reality – Jun 21, 2019

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday he was “profoundly disappointed” that the Senate passed bills C-48 and C-69 Thursday.

He called Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, “a prejudicial attack on Alberta, banning from Canada’s northwest coast only one product — bitumen — produced in only one province, Alberta.”

READ MORE: Canadian Senate passes B.C. tanker ban bill, prepping for it to come into law

The legislation 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.

“The passage of Bill C-48 is an unconstitutional violation of Canada’s economic union and our government will challenge it in court,” Kenney said.

The premier said Bill C-48 is particularly punitive because there’s no such ban on tanker traffic elsewhere in Canada.

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“What’s the point here? I was just in the Bay of Fundy a week ago today, at the largest oil refinery in the world, that offloads about 200,000 barrels per day from supertankers coming from Saudi Arabia,” Kenney said. “You’re not imposing a ban on the Bay of Fundy. You’re not imposing a ban on the tankers that come down the Gulf of Saint Lawrence — you’d shut down the Quebec economy if you did. So why is it just a ban on Alberta exports?”

Watch below: Two heavily-debated pieces of legislation that will have a dramatic impact on Alberta’s oil industry were passed into law by the Senate Thursday night. Tom Vernon has reaction.

Click to play video: 'Kenney vows to continue fight against bills C-48 and C-69'
Kenney vows to continue fight against bills C-48 and C-69

Bill C-69, which Kenney calls the ‘No More Pipelines Law,’ was also passed by the Senate Thursday night.

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READ MORE: Here are the bills that passed, or died, when Parliament rose for the summer

The Impact Assessment Act 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.

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Bill C-69 passed Thursday night by a vote of 57-37.

READ MORE: Senate passes Bill C-69, which overhauls review of major projects, like pipelines

“The Senate had commendably made 188 constructive amendments to the bill, which were subsequently stripped out by the Trudeau government in the House of Commons,” Alberta’s premier said. “The bill, in its final form, is opposed by nine of 10 provinces, almost every major industry group in Canada, and dozens of First Nations.”

Watch below: Jason Kenney calls the bills a discriminatory attack on one province – Alberta

Kenney said the passage of those two pieces of legislation pushes Alberta closer to calling a referendum on federal equalization payments. It was a point the United Conservatives brought up often during the Alberta election campaign.

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“That if the federal government proceeded with unacceptable versions of these two bills, attacks on our vital economic interests, that if we did not get a coastal pipeline built and if the federal government proceeds with the imposition of a federal carbon tax on us, we’d be prepared to hold a referendum to delete Section 36 of the Constitution Act, the principle of equalization, concurrent with the 2021 October municipal elections.”

READ MORE: Why critics fear Bill C-69 will be a ‘pipeline killer’

Within a few weeks, Kenney said, Albertans learned the federal carbon tax would come into effect in January and bills C-48 and C-69 were passed.

“Albertans cannot be expected to continue to pay the freight in the Canadian confederation if the same federation continues to block our ability to develop and get a fair price for our resources,” he said.

The Official Opposition said it was also “deeply disappointed” both bills were passed.

“Bill C-69 needed substantial improvements and this is why our government submitted a number of commonsense amendments to try and fix this legislation,” Irfan Sabir, the NDP’s energy critic, said in a statement. “We were pleased to see Premier Kenney adopt these recommendations. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our amendments were rejected by the federal government. This will result in unnecessary delays and uncertainty for major projects.

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“Bill C-48 is discriminatory to Alberta’s resources and is unacceptable. We called on Senators to toss out this ill-conceived piece of legislation. Sadly, those calls fell on deaf ears,” Sabir said.

The provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario have also weighed in with criticism on the bills.

Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford says Bill C-69 is a twin disaster by reducing Canada’s energy competitiveness while failing to better protect the environment.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the bills will hurt the economy and job creation.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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