As I mentioned in last week’s report, as the House of Commons now enters the final few weeks before the summer adjournment and in this case the final scheduled sitting before the election in October, there are some added challenges for the government.
As the government attempts to prioritize bills it would like to see passed through the House, those bills must also pass through the Senate.
This has become more challenging in recent times as the Senate has demonstrated an increased willingness to either amend or attempt to delay some bills.
One of those bills currently before the Senate is Bill C-48.
What is Bill C-48?
It is called the “Oil Tanker Moratorium Act” and it applies exclusively to coastal B.C.- more precisely the north coast.
Before I reference the Senate, I will share some of my own concerns with this bill.
First, is the inherent contradiction of this proposed legislation.
As we know, Mr.Trudeau is proposing to increase the tanker traffic off the west coast with the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion project.
It is the north coast where he is proposing to ban all oil tankers.
Many have pointed out the contrast in acknowledging risk in one geographic region, and yet ignoring that same potential for risk in another region.
From a safety perspective, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation can provide spill response service in both geographic regions.
Likewise the Pacific Pilotage Authority, a crown corporation, can also provide the same world-respected marine pilots to navigate these vessels in both regions. Companies such as Seaspan (as an example) can also provide multiple tugboats to assist with docking and escort services in both areas.
In other words the same safety conditions the Prime Minister trusts in one geographic region can be equally provided in another.
So why a proposed ban in one region and not the other?
The simple answer is politics, and this is where the Senate, currently debating Bill C-48, has weighed in.
As CBC Reports, a Senate committee investing this bill has concluded that “the bill is a cynical, intentional bid to cripple the economy of Prairie provinces, particularly Alberta, and curry political favour elsewhere in the country.”
The same CBC report further states this is “driven by the calculation that the ruling Liberals have few seats to lose in Alberta and Saskatchewan.”
I will note the Liberals currently have 3 seats in Alberta, and 1 in Saskatchewan compared to 17 in BC.
It should also be pointed out that there are 30 different First Nation bands who have joined together to launch a lawsuit trying to stop this tanker ban from going forward.
They call this proposed tanker ban an unjustified infringement of their aboriginal rights and title.
They point out that this proposed tanker plan would thwart their ability to create economic support for their community through the development of an oil export facility.
At the moment it remains unclear how the entire Senate will vote on the Senate Transportation and Communications committee recommendation to kill Bill C-48.
My question for you this week:
Do you support Bill C-48 and the moratorium on oil tanker traffic off the North coast?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.