Bill C-69 given a rough welcome at Calgary Senate committee hearing

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

CALGARY — A federal bill to change the way Ottawa assesses major energy projects got a rough ride in Calgary on Tuesday.

Representatives of Canada's biggest oil and gas companies took turns demanding major changes to Bill C-69 before a Senate committee making a Calgary stop on a cross-Canada series of hearings that started in Vancouver on Monday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people rallied outside the downtown hotel where the hearing was taking place, chanting “Kill that Bill” and waving signs — a scene that is becoming typical whenever federal politicians come to Calgary.

Senate energy committee chairwoman Rosa Galvez says she believes the testimony senators have been hearing will turn into amendments by the time it is scheduled to give its report to the Senate by May 9.

Spokespeople for large oilsands producers Canadian Natural Resources, Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil and Cenovus Energy told the hearing they support the intent of the bill to improve the regulatory process but only if sweeping amendments proposed by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are adopted.

CAPP is urging changes that prevent public policy debates from being part of project assessments, that intervention be restricted to those directly affected or those with expertise, that timelines be firmly enforced and that government ministers' broad discretionary powers be limited.

“With amendments — and they're common sense amendments, they're not drastic, they're just common sense, clarifying amendments — we can make this bill workable,” said Steve Laut, executive vice-chairman of Canadian Natural.

“We can get premium products from Canada on the global market, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. And I think that's important.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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