Premier Jason Kenney says he’s prepared to launch a constitutional challenge if the federal Liberal government passes Bill C-69 in its current form.
Kenney appeared before the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources to speak on Bill C-69 Thursday.
“It will further alienate Albertans from their attachment to Canada if they see their federal government, instead of trying to help us get our economy back on track, it further damages it with this bill while asking us to be major funders of equalization and the rest of the federation.
“If no more pipeline act becomes law in anything like its current form I will tell the prime minister we will launch a constitutional challenge and we will do the same thing on C-48,” said Premier Kenney.
“And ultimately if we cannot get a coastal pipeline built and a withdraw of attack like these two bills I am prepared to trigger a constitutional referendum on equalization Section 36 of the Constitution. We want to start by trying to find common ground but ultimately we are prepared to use these tools to defend our prosperity.”
Premier Kenney said Bill C-48 – the No More Pipelines bill – will do lasting harm to Canada’s reputation as a place to do business.
“On Tuesday, as Alberta’s new Premier, I acted immediately on our promise to defend Alberta’s — and, frankly, Canada’s — vital economic interests. I stood before the Senate committee on Bill C-48 to sound the alarm on the Tanker Ban bill that targets Alberta’s oil industry and Canadian tankers off the B.C. coast while leaving foreign tankers free to ship foreign oil along our shores,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “And yesterday, I announced we proclaimed Bill 12 into law, giving Alberta a vital tool to preserve the value of our natural resources in the face of threats from the B.C. government.”
Premier Kenney said Canada’s resource sector is increasingly seen by investors as not worth the risk.
” We’ve all been paying the price in billions of dollars in lost economic potential. We’ve seen that with Kinder Morgan walking away from the Trans Mountain pipeline and TransCanada giving up on Energy East – both because of increasing delays and growing regulatory uncertainty.”
Premier Kenney said Canada’s resource sector has seen an alarming number of projects either put on hold or shelved completely in favour of more welcoming jurisdictions like the United States.
“And now, looming over the horizon is the dark cloud of Bill C-69.
“It will further erode confidence in Canada’s regulatory framework and deter investment in a country already seen as too risky a place to invest. In 2017 and 2018, for example, the planned investment value of major resource sector projects dropped by $100 billion,” he added. “We know oil prices aren’t the culprit, especially when we see how well the energy sector is doing south of the border.”
Premier Kenney said, “Despite a promise to stop federal ministers from interfering in the environmental assessment process, this bill delivers the exact opposite. It provides repeated opportunities for the federal environment minister to stop and start the clock on assessment, and to make highly politicized decisions behind closed doors.
“Alberta is not alone in raising the alarm. Diverse companies and industry associations, First Nations, trade unions and four other provincial governments have objected to this bill’s flaws. These include vague principles like “intersection of gender” and allowing anyone, whether or not directly affected or having relevant information or expertise, to participate in hearings. Bill C-69 provides lobby groups and other opponents of the energy industry with limitless potential to jam up the approval process.”
The federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction provided under this bill is equally problematic, he said.
“It gives a new federal agency the power to regulate provincial projects, such as in situ oil sands developments and petrochemical refineries, which are entirely within a province’s borders and already subject to provincial regulation. It disregards a landmark Supreme Court ruling on jurisdiction and the balance between federal and provincial powers spelled out in the Constitution — including Section 92A in which provinces have exclusive authority over non-renewable resource projects. This is particularly galling as it was secured by Premier Lougheed as a condition of Alberta’s agreement to the Constitution in 1982.
“Those who actually know Alberta know how committed we are to protecting the environment and the level of industry and regulatory expertise here. Under my government’s stewardship, Albertans and Canadians will benefit from economic growth driven by environmentally sustainable energy development and clean technologies that will fight climate change in Canada and globally. We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions using provincial regulations.”
Premier Kenney said the threat from Bill C-69 affects the entire country.
“It cannot be dismissed as a uniquely Alberta issue. When Alberta’s energy sector suffers, it cascades through the whole provincial economy and then ripples out across our national economy.
“This bill doesn’t need a nip and tuck; it needs massive reconstructive surgery, or it needs to be put out of its misery,” he added. “Otherwise, the province of Alberta will have no alternative but to challenge this legislation which directly assaults our exclusive provincial jurisdiction.”