Oilpatch in open rebellion as Ottawa ignores industry’s input on Bill C-69
On the same day Canada’s oil sector predicted sluggish production growth in the coming years, company CEOs issued a dire warning: Ottawa’s Bill C-69 threatens to choke off future industry expansion.
Across the sector, company executives unloaded Thursday on the proposed federal Impact Assessment Act, saying it will have dire repercussions on investment and constrain future production, along with jobs.
It’s a sign the industry has moved into open rebellion after the Trudeau government pushed ahead with Bill C-69 this week, while discarding most of industry’s proposed amendments that initially made it through the Senate.
“Should this bill go through in its current form, it will unfortunately cause us to step back and deeply consider any and all future major growth opportunities — it just will,” said Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger in an interview.
“When we see a policy like this, a bill like this, there is no balance in it. The proof will come over time, when parties quit investing.”
That’s blunt talk, but the gloves are off.
Birchcliff Energy CEO Jeff Tonken said the industry believes no new pipelines will be built under the bill.
“When you look at the broader issues that Bill C-69 (is) raising, it will stop future access to tidewater and that will then stop any growth in Canada,” Tonken, who is also chairman of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told reporters at a news conference.
Other oilpatch leaders had a similar message.
“We’re disappointed and concerned that this bill jeopardizes future development,” Suncor CEO Mark Little said in a statement.
The spark to this political bonfire was ignited earlier in the week after federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Ottawa would accept 62 recommendations to the proposed bill, while modifying another 37 that came out of the Senate this spring.
More than 100 amendments were rejected by the government, including the lion’s share of proposals made by industry groups such as CAPP and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
The Kenney government has said all of the 180-plus amendments from the Senate needed to be adopted to make the bill palatable to Alberta.
Bill C-69 is designed to change the way the federal government reviews major projects, including oil and gas pipelines.
The Liberal government insists the bill will restore public faith in the assessment process, which will study a project’s impact on health, the environment, Indigenous communities, social and economic effects.
“The opposition would pursue economic development at all costs and put the interests of oil lobbyists ahead of the interest of Canadians,” McKenna said Wednesday.
Industry executives took umbrage with the comments, accusing her of ignoring legitimate concerns and charging ahead with the bill, regardless of its impact on the economy, investment or jobs.
“I am very troubled with some of minister McKenna’s comments. She continues to profile our industry as if we are not responsible,” CAPP president Tim McMillan said after speaking to the Global Petroleum Show.
“It is disrespectful and it’s not true.”
Any pretence of diplomacy from either side is now out the window.
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