Now-premier Jason Kenney speaks at a rally before the election, in Sherwood Park Alta, on Monday April 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Jason Kenney urges feds to scrap oil tanker ban bill on B.C. north coast

Kenney believes the bill is unconstitutional because it only affects oil coming from Alberta oilsands

Alberta’s new premier says the province will launch a constitutional challenge against a federal government bill to ban tankers off British Columbia’s northern coast if it goes ahead.

The Senate’s committee on transport and communications was in Edmonton Tuesday for a public hearing on Bill C-48.

Premier Jason Kenney said the bill represents a grave threat to the economic interests of Alberta and Canada.

“Not only do we disagree with Bill C-48 in its current form, we do not agree with the bill period,” he said.

“We believe it must be scrapped.”

Kenney said the province believes the bill is unconstitutional because it only affects oil coming out of the Alberta oilsands.

“If this legislation is about tanker traffic, then tell us why would it not apply to B.C. natural gas,” he said.

“I am confused by this legislation. If it is so important, why aren’t we looking at other Canadian coastlines?”

READ MORE: B.C. braces for another round of pipeline battle with Alberta’s Jason Kenney

The bill would prohibit oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil and related products in waters between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska border.

The legislation passed in the House of Commons last spring and is being debated in the Senate.

Some senators on the committee said they are conflicted by testimony they’ve heard across the country.

Leaders from several north-coast B.C. First Nations previously testified that if the Senate doesn’t approve the bill, a spill could kill their thriving but fragile marine-based economies.

On Tuesday, senators heard similar concerns from Albertans about the province’s oil industry.

Mayor Don Scott of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said the bill is divisive and would threaten national unity.

“It should never become law,” he said, explaining it would hurt both Fort McMurray and the oilsands in northern Alberta.

Chief Craig Makinaw of the Ermineskin Cree Nation said there’s a perception that all First Nations are against oil and gas development.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and fear mongering about having pipelines across your lands,” he said.

Makinaw said oil and gas has helped his First Nation become one of the most financially stable in the country, and noted he’s simply asking for a reasonable solution that works for both provinces.

“Don’t pick winners and losers,” he said. “Let’s find a way forward where we can all benefit.”

READ MORE: Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Al Reid, executive vice-president with Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc., testified that the bill would hurt the oil industry.

“To be truly internationally competitive, we need the economies of scale that come from access to northern B.C.’s deep water ports,” he said. “Unfortunately, Bill C-48 offers no pathway to reasonable compromise. It simply closes the door to Alberta’s primary export.

“We can do better than this legislation, which should be at a minimum allowing for regulated, safe oil shipping corridors.”

Senator Paula Simons, who is from Edmonton, said she’s torn on how to handle the bill.

“On the one hand, we’ve been to Prince Rupert, we’ve been to Terrace, we’ve heard very emotional and powerful evidence and testimony from particularly First Nations and fisher people there who are desperate to protect their really beautiful territory,” she said outside the committee meeting.

“On the other hand, I am an Alberta senator and I am not sure that the government has made a scientific case for a ban that is this extensive.”

Academics who addressed the committee said the bill would affect many aspects of Alberta’s oil industry, and noted it would be difficult for the federal government to come up with a win-win for both the province and B.C.

“It’s pretty blunt on what it is — it’s banning oil exports off the northwest coast of B.C.. So I don’t think there’s a political in-between there,” said Andrew Leach, an associate professor of economics at the University of Alberta. “Maybe a little bit of softening on the different refined products.

“At the end of the day, it’s pretty stark. It’s almost a yes or no.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Business notes: New owners celebrate at Arbutus Ridge Golf Course

The award-winning Arbutus Ridge Golf Course in Cobble Hill has a new… Continue reading

Cowichan Green Community eyes funding for value added food processing

The folks at Cowichan Green Community are licking their chops after the… Continue reading

Cowichan lacrosse grads square off in Jr. B playoffs

Delta takes series after win in Duncan

Roller derby returns to Cowichan Exhibition’s Mellor Hall

Food trucks, beer garden, roller disco all on tap for July 27

VIDEO: Compton and Cooper share first place in Duncan Has Talent while Heard takes third

A difficult decision was made easier by splitting the first and second place prize money between two

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Most Read