The subject of pipelines has featured prominently in Ottawa including on Wednesday when the Liberal Government will announce a new pipeline review process and then Thursday the Official Opposition Conservatives will table a motion calling on the Liberal Government to express support for the Energy East project along with a number of other conditions. At the time of my writing this week’s MP report it is unknown what the new pipeline review process will be or what the outcome of the motion on Thursday is.”
I have included this reference from last week as I can start this report by updating on this information. The Liberal Government did announce a revised pipeline review process that contrary to promises of an entirely new process in effect takes much of the existing process and adds some new considerations. Some of these considerations include more public consultations in particular with First Nations as well upstream GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) will also now be assessed. The combined effect of these new measures also means the review process will be further delayed.
My thoughts on the new review policy? Having met with several groups and citizens who oppose new Canadian pipeline development the message often communicated is that new pipelines will not be supported under any circumstance. Thus lengthening the review process in my view is unlikely to sway those opposed to pipelines to support them, in fact within twenty four hours of the new review process announcement many prominent anti-pipeline organizations including some First Nations groups rejected the Liberal changes. Ultimately delaying the decision is an unhelpful measure. I do see value in tracking GHG emissions however on that same note all infrastructure projects have a GHG footprint and selectively tracking GHG emissions from some projects and not others seems counter-productive if the Liberal Government is truly serious about meeting reduced GHG emission targets.
This leads to the Opposition motion that reads:
“given this time of economic uncertainty, the House: (a) recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy and support its development in an environmentally sustainable way; (b) agree that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil; (c) acknowledge the desire for the Energy East pipeline expressed by the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick; and (d) express its support for the Energy East pipeline currently under consideration.”
Although this motion did not call for Energy East to be formerly approved it was still rejected by the Liberal Government in a whipped vote and was also opposed by the NDP in a similar manner. It is clear that the debate on Canadian pipelines is far from over.
Also being debated this week is a Government Bill C-4 from the Liberals that proposes a number of changes mostly related to Unions. Specifically the right for a worker to have a private ballot when voting on Unionization for a federally regulated work environment is being repealed under this Bill. Also being repealed is the union fiscal transparency act that would require unions to publicly disclose wages, benefits and other Union expenses that are taken from tax deductible union dues. Ironically on the same day the Liberals announced Bill C-4 Elections Canada reported the Liberal Party of Canada had taken an illegal union donation during the recent October election. As the Official opposition we believe in increased financial transparency and the right to a private ballot for workers and will oppose this Bill.
I welcome your comments, questions and concerns and can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.