An update on Canada’s access to global markets
June 18, 2019
Over the last week, we’ve seen a flurry of activity from Ottawa that will shape Canada’s economy for the upcoming years.
On June 12, 2019 the federal government announced that it would disregard a significant number of recommendations brought forward by the Senate on Bill C-69. Later in the week Bill C-48 came closer to Royal Assent, and today Cabinet announced that it will be moving forward with the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Project. While the latter is positive news for our province and creates a much-needed corridor for Canada’s natural resources to reach global markets, Bills C-48 and 69 still stand to harm our country’s economic global competitiveness by doing the opposite.
If passed, Bill C-69 would establish two new regulatory bodies responsible for completing environmental impact assessments; The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Canadian Energy Regulator, with the latter replacing the National Energy Board. The federal government’s intention when passing the bill was to create a regulatory environment where the approval process for major infrastructure projects in Canada is streamlined. However, in its current form, Bill C-69 would have the opposite effect. It would create uncertainty around timelines and assessment factors and remove predictability. It would also leave the final decision in the hands of the federal cabinet, leading to further politicization of the regulatory system.
Following the overwhelming negative reaction from multiple industries, the Senate Committee consulted across the country and presented recommendations that reflected feedback received from many stakeholders. Ottawa’s decision to not implement all recommendations ignores input from Canadians that would improve the legislation into something that industry would be able to work with. The proposed legislation would not only harm the oil and gas sector, it would also hinder Canada’s ability to create trade enabling infrastructure and large renewable energy and mining projects. If passed in its current form, Bill C-69 would undermine our economy, global competitiveness, and our ability to get our natural resources to global markets.
Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, is also moving closer to Royal Assent after passing its third reading in the Senate. While amendments to the bill were proposed by the Senate Transportation and Communications Committee, the Senate as a whole decided not to accept them. This leaves us in the precarious situation of seeing a bill that unfairly targets one industry and one region getting closer to becoming law. The bill must be scrapped to allow our energy products to get to global markets and ensure that Alberta can compete globally.
After a long and contentious approval process, Cabinet voted to move forward with the Trans Mountain project. The often-discussed project has taken on broader significance as a symbol of Canada’s inability to build major infrastructure projects, facing issues with interprovincial disagreements and trade barriers in Canada, government intervention in the private sector, and uncertainty in Canada’s regulatory processes. With Cabinet approval, the project can finally move ahead and improve access to international markets where demand for Canada’s natural resources continues to grow. We also look forward to learning more about the federal government’s plan to move ownership of the project back into the private sector.
While the approval for TMX will help improve Canada’s economy, the uncertainty that is created by Bills C-48 and 69 will continue to hurt our country’s economic growth by shifting investment away from Canada. The Chamber implores that the federal government defeat Bills C-48 and 69 to ensure Canada’s economic future.