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

Nanaimo students put their robots to the test in competition

High school students from Nanaimo and Ladysmith problem-solve at VEX robotics tournament

Bus loop will now remain in downtown Nanaimo until the end of the year

Shelters installed at temporary Port Drive/Front Street transit exchange

Nanaimo kindergarten teacher receives Prime Minister’s award

Departure Bay Eco-School’s Liz McCaw use of experiential learning methods earns her accolade

Nanaimo man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

James Farkas breaks hip in fall from beach cliff, returns months later to save eagle on same beach

Nanaimo athletes win Island track and field championships

Every Nanaimo high school was represented at last week’s event

Nanaimo students press for action on climate change

Strike for Climate was held again Friday; students feel their concerns aren’t being taken seriously

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Beefs & Bouquets, May 23

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Most Read