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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Work begins on new affordable housing building in Nelson

The 39-unit project is expected to be complete by July 2021

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Morning Start: 180 different bird species exist in Kootenay National Park

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 29

Retiring staff feted by School District 8

Teachers, custodians and staff were honoured Thursday

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read