Authors: Marla Orenstein and Martha Hall Findlay
After hearing from Canadians across the country, the full Senate – on the recommendation of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources – passed a suite of close to 190 amendments to Bill C-69 on June 5. While some have described the amendments as “favourable to industry,” most are simply favourable to the establishment of a clear and manageable process. The bill now returns to the House of Commons for ratification or further amendment.
Right from the beginning, the Canada West Foundation has supported the stated intentions of the bill: to establish an impact assessment process that helps protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians; that enhances Canada’s global competitiveness; and where decisions can be made in a predictable and timely manner, providing certainty to investors and stakeholders. But we have had serious concerns about unintended consequences resulting from how the bill was drafted.
Overall, the vast majority of amendments that were introduced by the Senate should be considered improvements. They improve clarity, reduce political discretion, firm up timelines, strengthen the role of municipalities and provinces, and increase the use of technical expertise from the lifecycle regulators. These are changes that all Canadians should support, as they have implications for all project types that will pass through the review process – not just pipelines, but transmission lines, highways, mines, hydroelectric projects, and some renewable projects such as tidal and offshore wind energy projects.
Because it is a daunting task to wade through the 56-page amendment report published by the Senate, the Canada West Foundation has provided a high-level summary of the amendments, which should be helpful for those who may be interested – including the MPs now tasked with final review.
This briefing note does not attempt to analyze whether the changes are “good” or “bad,” whether the Senate landed on the optimal approach, nor whether the implementation is likely to be successful. Rather, we try to answer the question: “What did the Senate attempt to achieve with the amendments?” In doing so, we hope once again to bring facts, analysis and balance to the discussion of this controversial bill.
Select the PDF below for the full summary of Senate amendments to Bill C-69