Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 2, 2019. A Senate committee has approved dozens of amendments - primarily aimed at mollifying the energy industry - to the Trudeau government’s controversial environmental assessment legislation. Bill C-69 is supposed to improve the way the environmental impact of major energy and transportation projects are evaluated, making the assessments more stringent so that they are less likely to fail court challenges. But the oil industry, backed by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has launched ferocious opposition to the bill, which it claims will sow uncertainty and prevent major projects, such as pipelines, from ever getting off the ground. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Senate committee approves dozens of energy-industry-friendly amendments to C-69

Bill C-69 to improve the way energy and transportation projects are evaluated

A Senate committee has approved dozens of amendments — primarily aimed at mollifying the energy industry — to the Liberal government’s controversial environmental assessment legislation.

Bill C-69 is supposed to improve the way the environmental impact of major energy and transportation projects are evaluated, making the assessments more stringent so that they are less likely to fail court challenges.

But the oil industry, backed by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has launched ferocious opposition to the bill, which it claims will sow uncertainty and prevent major projects, such as pipelines, from ever getting built.

Kenney, who has labelled the bill the “No More Pipelines Act,” has gone so far as to warn of a national-unity crisis if the legislation were to pass unchanged. In one of this first acts as a new premier, he headed to Ottawa to fight it.

“I made it clear in both official languages that, if passed, that bill would jeopardize national unity and undermine our shared prosperity as Canadians by creating massive additional investor uncertainty, that would scare away job-creating investment and would make it impossible for companies to come forward with future potential pipelines,” he said in Calgary Thursday.

READ MORE: Environmental protesters want more action on climate change

The amendments approved by the Senate’s energy, environment and natural resources committee would reduce cabinet discretion to intervene in the assessment process, make it harder for anyone to initiate court challenges to decisions on projects and change how climate-change impacts are considered; some are word-for-word what was proposed by energy lobby groups.

Kenney pronounced himself pleased with the changes but said he wants to see what happens with the final law: The Senate as a whole must now decide whether to accept or reject the amendments, which environmentalists say would gut the bill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated the government is open to amending the bill but he and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have refused to comment on amendments proposed by senators until the upper house makes a final decision on them.

Conservative senators, who proposed 90 amendments, hailed the committee’s acceptance of them as a win for Canada’s regions and for energy-industry workers.

The amendments to C-69 come less than 24 hours after another Senate committee voted to kill the Trudeau government’s proposed ban on oil tankers on the coast of northern British Columbia. The ban was promised by Trudeau during the 2015 election campaign.

The full Senate must still weigh in on that decision.

Any amendments to government bills approved by the Senate must go back to the House of Commons, where the government decides whether to accept, reject or modify them and sends the bill back to the upper house. So far during Trudeau’s mandate, appointed senators have not insisted on any of their amendments after they’ve been rejected by the elected chamber.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Jason Kenney spoke in Edmonton. He was in Calgary.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Charges laid in West Kelowna assault

An arrest was made after RCMP plea for witnesses

West Kelowna man charged in gas station robbery

The 18-year-old was arrested after allegedly robbing a Huskey gas station on July 15

Kelowna RCMP seek info on hit and run

Red mustang strikes cyclist while taking U-turn near Bernard Avenue

Choices Markets Kelowna takes steps toward sustainability

Choices Markets is removing single-use plastics from its shelves and offering reusable produce bags

Kelowna’s Okanagan Regional Library may not look like the one you grew up with!

New technology and arts programming transforms library operations

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Okanagan woman heads up college foundation board

Gladys Fraser of Vernon brings experience to role as chair of Okanagan College Foundation board

Stolen car now returned to Summerland dealership

Vehicle was stolen on same day as attempted carjacking incident

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Police recover $12,700 in stolen pet food from North Shuswap property

Chase RCMP execute third search of property where stolen vehicles, illegal firearms seized

Straight from DeHart

Partners come together to open new pub in Kelowna

Hergott: Medical cannabis and ICBC

ICBC might start reimbursing the expense of cannabis just like they do for prescription medications

Most Read