Opponents of Bill C-69 hold rally in Calgary hoping to suspend energy legislation

Opponents of Bill C-69 hold rally in Calgary hoping to suspend energy legislation
Albertans rally against problematic Bill C-69
Albertans cheered and jeered in front of the McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary on Thursday afternoon for a rally against Bill C-69 — a federal proposal to overhaul how energy projects are approved in this country.

The federal Liberals have been criticized by some industry experts and Premier Rachel Notley over the bill.

There's concern C-69 could cause problems for an already weak energy industry in this province.

Conspicuously absent were the federal Liberals. Organizers say they invited Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr but he didn't respond.

The crowd may not have been happy to see him though, as the Liberals faced repeated rhetorical attacks from the podium.

"The oil industry is very important to Albertans," said Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson, who represents the riding of Calgary Currie.

"I think everyone in the crowd believes Bill C-69 is problematic to Alberta's oil industry, and our government has been clear, changes need to be made to it, that's why we're sending two of our cabinet ministers to Ottawa to speak specifically to the Senate for the changes Alberta needs to make sure this makes sense for Alberta's oil industry."

Malkinson said Energy Minister Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips are set to travel to Ottawa.

"For Alberta's future, we can't have a climate leadership plan that [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau wants unless we have a strong oil and gas industry," he said. 

Canada Action founder Cody Battershill says he hopes Thursday's event wasn't seen as partisan.

"At the end of the day no matter who you vote for, the economy matters," he said. "And creating jobs matters. Global oil and gas demand is growing and we need to become more competitive to create jobs for our families rather than make things more difficult and that's what Bill C-69 will do."

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Opponents of Bill C-69 are holding a rally in front of the McDougall Centre in Calgary Thursday afternoon, calling on the federal government to suspend the bill.

Bill C-69, which still needs Senate approval, would completely overhaul energy project reviews in Canada. The bill would replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator and create a new Impact Assessment Agency.

The bill would introduce new timelines and require specific steps that companies and governments will have to take in order for new energy projects to go ahead.

READ MORE: Alberta to send 2 ministers to Ottawa to fight Bill C-69: ‘Stop the regulatory merry-go-round’

Opponents of the bill said theyre concerned it will hurt investment in the country and sends the wrong message to oil and gas companies.

According to rally co-organizer, Cody Battershill with Canada Action, the rally will highlight their concerns that the bill would make Canada less competitive in the energy sector.

Opponents of Bill C-69 held a rally in front of the McDougall Centre in Calgary Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

Opponents of Bill C-69 held a rally in front of the McDougall Centre in Calgary Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

This legislation doesnt fit the message that the country is concerned about the energy sector… it sends the opposite… that Canada is not open for business, Battershill said.

Battershill and other opponents believe the bill will prevent future large-scale energy infrastructure projects.

Todays message is that we need to take a balanced approach to new regulations that will impact our resource centre, Battershill said at the rally. Millions of Canadians work in our natural resources and this new bill, Bill C-69, is going to create uncertainty and cause further job loss, and will cause further lack of investment in our resource centre.

Rally speakers included elected members from both sides of the floor, including Calgary MLA Brian Malkinson and Opposition Leader Jason Kenney.

Two provincial cabinet ministers are heading to Ottawa to speak to senators to push against the bill. Malkinson said hes hopeful that the ministers will make their voices heard.

I am very optimistic, he said. Industry has been clear and our ministers have been clear that there are definitely some problems with the bill.

In a statement issued to Global News, Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd called the bill a major overreach of federal jurisdiction into the provinces right to develop and control resources.

Bill C-69, in its current form, stands to hurt our competitive position, she added. Were going to keep fighting for changes to get this legislation fixed.

On the flip side, proponents of the bill said it streamlines the process and it will protect the environment, he said.

According to Duane Bratt, political analyst at Mount Royal University, the piece of legislation has been very controversial in Alberta but its unlikely the Senate will block it.

Its been passed by the House of Commons so its sitting in the Senate right now. The Senate rarely blocks legislation but it has at certain moments in time, he said.

This raises all sorts of democratic issues because the House of Commons is the elected body and the Senate is the appointed body, he said.

The Kill Bill C-69 rally took place on Thursday afternoon with several hundred people in attendance.