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West Coast tanker ban bill foundering in the Senate


May 15, 2019  


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Nevermind the heavily amended Bill C-69, the West Coast tanker ban legislation – Bill C-48 – is foundering in the rough seas of the Senate.

C-48 prohibits tankers carrying “persistent” oil from unloading at ports on the west coast, from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border. At the moment, the likelihood of it passing into law looks remote, as senators question the validity of it.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has acknowledged that the real reason the Liberals are intent on driving the bill through parliament, in the teeth of fierce opposition, is that “It follows from an election promise that was made.”

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National Post columnist John Ivison spoke to a number of people, and more than one person used the phrase “third-party promises” to describe the Liberals’ electoral commitments. “This sprawling platform was created by a third-place party that had been out of power for a decade and was throwing stuff at the wall,” one person with close knowledge of the campaign told Ivison. “When someone asked: ‘How are we going to do all this stuff?’ the response was: ‘We’ll only have to if we get elected.’”

The tanker ban, announced by Justin Trudeau at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, B.C. in the late spring of 2015, fits that description.

When Trudeau’s Liberals swept into power, the announcement of the moratorium killed the Northern Gateway pipeline.

New projects, such as the Eagle Spirit pipeline corridor from Fort McMurray, Alta. to the northwest coast near Prince Rupert have been proposed. Thirty-five First Nations along the route support the development.

But C-48 kills it, even though the proposed port of Grassy Point is only 10 minutes from open ocean.

Garneau said his government is open to any amendments senators might suggest, but when Doug Black, an independent senator from Alberta, asked if there were any prospect of a potential ocean corridor to Prince Rupert for oil products, the minister said no. “The analogy is a café where there is no smoking but one table is allowed to smoke. You can’t guarantee any spillage will stay in that corridor,” he said.

Ivison states that some Liberals would be quite happy to see C-48 die on the order paper. There is no agreement for third reading in the Senate and no guarantees that it will be read before the end of the sitting.

(National Post)