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

B.C. salmon farm inspection deal reached with Indigenous people

Monitoring to determine if any Broughton region farms stay open

Compromise found on grocery store size in south Campbell River subdivision

Approved increase less than developer wanted, but will still allow for some flexibility

City of Campbell River looks to improve environmental protection during development

Changes to mapping environmentally sensitive areas and how permitting process works is under review

Dippity doo-dah; Campbell River Rotary Duck Dip winners scooped up

Fundraiser for Head Injury Support Society’s Linda’s Place

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Most Read