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Bill C69 passes Senate with pro-oil and gas amendments

Yesterday, Bill C-69 “An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts” passed third reading in the Senate with over 180 amendments. Unfortunately, it looks like many of the amendments drafted by Big Oil and proposed by Conservative Senators were adopted, but it’s not over yet. The Bill has now been sent back to the House of Commons which will vote on which amendments are accepted before it goes back to the Senate for a final vote.

The Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV), held hearings on Bill C69 last month. Here in the Atlantic, the Standing Committee came to St. John’s, Halifax, and Saint John. I attended the hearings in Halifax (check out some of the action on my twitter feed @angiles), where the Campaign to Protect Offshore NS (CPONS), a project of the South Shore chapter of the Council, presented along with many allies. St. John’s and Saint John were also well attended by both sides of the debate.

Ann Pohl and Denise Melanson of the Kent County Chapter of the Council presented to the Standing Committee in Saint John and raised many important points similar to our submission, that could be summarized as moving power away from communities and towards corporate interests. We were calling on the Senate to amend by changing direction.

Presentations in the Atlantic were focused on the Impact Assessment Act, which gives power to the Offshore Petroleum Boards (OPBs) by proposing that OPBs be given up to 2 seats on a 5-seat review panel with the possibility of (one of) the OPB representative(s) taking the role of chair of the committee.

Senator Jane Cordy (NS) proposed to amend that piece but was voted down – you can watch it here, starting around 21:56:20 (if you want to see the actual vote, Senator by Senator, go almost to the very end of the recording).

Although many of the presentations were raising issues similar to ours, the oil and gas lobby mobilized and dominated other hearings like the ones in Calgary and Saskatoon. This letter to the editor from Conservative Senator Richard Neufeld about the hearings sums up the bias and angle from industry, although in the end expresses commitment to “making the bill better”, which is ultimately what we were calling for as well – we clearly have a different idea of what “better” means and for whom.

Pro-industry protest against Bill C-69. Photo credit: CTV News Calgary

Stay tuned for more on this, and thanks to all who took the time to present or make a submission or raise awareness or concerns with C69!