Anger over Bill C-69 simmers at GPS
Amid the excitement and goodwill at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Alta., there was a simmering anger at how Bill-69 was being handled by the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa.
“This has been a very challenging piece of legislation. We’ve worked with the federal government for almost three years to try and make this Bill workable.” said Tim McMillan, president/CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last Thursday at the show. “The federal government had introduced it – we saw some very big problems with it right off the bat, and have been engaged ever since.
“We have worked earnestly with both government and the Senate. In fact, we felt that the Bill was very well positioned and the Senate had positioned the government for success when it came out of the Senate a week and a half ago. We, unfortunately, were very disappointed when we saw what the government intends to do with the Senate amendments – stripping out all of the impactful ones, all but three that industry felt were key to making this Bill workable.”
CAPP had their eye on a package of 43 amendments that were in that Bill, and only three of that 43 were ultimately executed by government.
“We’re an industry that’s proud of how we operate. We’re the best in the world for providing oil and gas globally, and we are continuing to improve upon our performance,” said McMillan. “The world wants Canadian products, they want Canadian oil and gas, and we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot and make it impossible for us to execute on the great resources and production that we have.”
Sue Riddell-Rose, president of Perpetual Energy, agreed that it appears Ottawa simply isn’t listening to what Canadians and the industry are saying.
“One of the most disturbing parts of what we’re experiencing today is that it’s really back to process and certainty,” she said. “We are concerned about the lack of certainty that Bill C-69, in its current form, actually would present for our industry. We’re telling you that our investors will not participate.
“In terms of process, we went to a full Senate review coast-to-coast-to-coast, getting input at an unprecedented level from Canadians from every sector – whether its industry interested in this Bill particularly, or people that were wanting to see different amendments. The Senate was actually very thoughtful in putting all of those amendments together,” she continued. “They made a proposal to parliament, or to the House of Commons, and that was completely disregarded. And process like that is not going to move our country forward in the interests of Canadians, and that is what the uncertainty is about.”
Rich Kruger, chairman/president/CEO of Imperial Oil, feels that the messaging of Senate amendments to Bill C-69 being industry friendly simply isn’t true.
“Amendments by the Senate to Bill C-69 have been characterized as industry-friendly – that simply is not true. These amendments were adopted following nationwide input and extensive consultation, thoughtful negotiation and compromise on the part of industry,” said Kruger. “It’s time to be clear and candid with Canadians that there needs to be a balance between environmental protection and economic opportunity. Bill C-69 simply does not achieve that balance. This bill, in its current form, is unworkable from a major investor perspective, and continues to perpetuate a climate of regulatory risk and uncertainty.”
And it is that uncertainty that is scaring away investors, Kruger points out.
“When I speak with our investors, domestic and abroad, they tell me Canada’s regulatory uncertainty has a negative effect on how they view political and regulatory risk,” he said. “Many increasingly say they no longer view Canada as an attractive place to invest. This ultimately impacts not only investment in our economy, but also people’s jobs and personal growth opportunities.”