MICHAEL MacDONALD: Senators eager for input on crucial energy issues during Halifax stop

On April 24, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources will visit Halifax. This will be part of our nine-city tour taking us from coast to coast.

The committee is travelling to hear Canadians’ opinions on Bill C-69, Justin Trudeau’s controversial push to rewrite the rules for major natural resource project reviews in Canada.

But the trip to Halifax almost didn’t happen, as most “Independent” senators resisted Conservative calls to travel across the country.

Grant Mitchell, the government’s whip in the Senate, and sponsor of the bill, told CBC that “We don’t need to (travel) because we can hear from anybody we want to hear from in Ottawa.”

Another senator, the leader of the Trudeau-appointed “Independent” Senators Group, in a debate about travel that was broadcast online, argued that only one stop in Atlantic Canada was necessary. He claimed that one meeting in Saint John, N.B. would be enough, and explained, “We can invite people from the other two Atlantic provinces to come there.” I’m still not sure which of the four Atlantic provinces he forgot.

Natural resource development affects all Canadians, and I’m proud of our Conservative senators who fought to bring the Senate committee outside the ivory towers of Ottawa, so we can hear directly from Canadians and Nova Scotians.

The committee just concluded hearings in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. What I heard in Western Canada from leading voices in the energy and natural resource sector was a complete indictment of this legislation.

We heard that Bill C-69 will entrench regulatory gridlock.

We heard alarming evidence about the flight of capital occurring in Canada since 2015.

We heard this legislation will diminish Canada’s competitiveness, drive away investment, destroy tens of thousands of middle-class jobs, and lose tax and royalty revenue.

To make matters worse, it will eliminate all the environmental and social benefits of responsible energy development. It will result in the favouring of foreign oil over Canadian oil – foreign oil that is not accountable to Canadian regulatory standards. To this point, we heard that the world needs more Canadian energy, not less.

The Senate committee also heard from several rural and urban municipal associations, all of which told us that Bill C-69 will have a lasting negative impact on their communities.

Several Indigenous groups also testified that this legislation will block economic prosperity and financial sovereignty.

It’s clear that natural resource development is key to Nova Scotia’s future. It was under the Progressive Conservative government of John Hamm that oil and gas revenues were used to help strengthen our province’s financial situation.

Bill C-69 will have huge impacts across the country, and Nova Scotia is no exception.

That’s why it’s so important for our voices to be heard when it comes to this legislation.

In that spirit, as the deputy chair of the energy, environment and natural resources committee, I invite anyone interested in participating in their democracy to our hearing being held on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Halifax.

If you cannot make it, I encourage you to write or call senators on this committee and ask us the key questions surrounding this bill; as committee members, we have the power to amend it. Information on the committee members is available here: https://sencanada.ca/en/committees/enev/ .

The choices senators make on these questions will have enormous consequences for Canada’s future, including at home here in Nova Scotia.

Conservative Senator Michael L. MacDonald represents Nova Scotia (Cape Breton)

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