End of session shenanigans

MP column

For as long as I have been an MP, the end of the Parliamentary session before the summer recess has always been deemed the “silly season.”

After being in Ottawa for a prolonged period of time, MPs are always anxious to get back to their ridings to enjoy barbecues, parades and other community events. Given a federal election is on the horizon, more so than ever MPs are eager to connect with constituents.

Before we can go home however, the government is determined to ram legislation through the House of Commons at a dangerous pace that leaves little to no time to properly debate.

Bill C-69 – the Impact Assessment Act proposes to remove the approval for pipelines and nuclear facilities from the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The new Impact Assessment Agency that reports to the Minister of the Environment will be responsible for pipeline approvals. The imposition of this new agency and the new environmental assessment measures on Canada’s resource sector has provoked strong opposition.

Conservative Senators, after conducting numerous hearings, proposed a series of amendments to Bill C-69 that were based on stakeholder feedback and resistance.

When the legislation went back to the House of Commons, it took half an hour to read all the amendments. After only one hour of debate, the government gave notice they would shut down debate and rejected the majority of the amendments, even in the face of strong support from a number of premiers for these changes.

The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Northwest Territories wrote an urgent letter to the Prime Minister asking him to accept the amendments or face the very real threat of a national unity crisis.

The Prime Minister’s complete disregard for the democratically elected premiers of 59 per cent of Canada’s population and the other three provinces who raised serious concerns with Bill C-59, demonstrates arrogance and poor leadership.

Furthermore, it is proof he plans to “phase-out” Canada’s oilsands.

We are strongly opposed to the open-ended timelines for pipeline approvals, the increased potential for political interference in the review process, and the vague project criteria that will allow anti-resource activists to significantly delay approved projects in courts.

This Act was not the only piece of legislation rushed through Parliament. Time allocation was moved on Bill C-68 -An Act to Amend the Fisheries Act and on Bill C-100 – An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and Mexico.

These end of session shenanigans further demonstrate the arrogance of the government, who have consistently dismissed the legitimate concerns important issues and legislation. They promised Canadians they would not evoke closure or time allocation on legislation and not introduce omnibus bills in which they could hide controversial policy changes.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.c1@parl.gc.ca.

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