Testifying before the Senate of Canada Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources today, Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Blaine Pedersen demanded clarity and improvements from Ottawa on Bill C-69, to avoid making it more difficult to build strategic infrastructure, like transmission lines, pipelines or critical disaster mitigation projects.
“Strategic infrastructure investments in flood protection projects, clean hydroelectricity and mining – that are critical for the safety of our communities and our shared prosperity – are at risk of being delayed, becoming more expensive to realize, or being stopped altogether,” said Pedersen.
The bill could also kill jobs by creating uncertainty and unpredictability over long-term investment decisions, the minister noted. Mineral and petroleum developments are the second-largest primary resource sector in Manitoba. In real 2007 dollars, the sector contributed approximately $2.7 billion to the provincial economy and employed approximately 5,700 workers in 2018.
Pedersen highlighted that should Bill C-69 pass in its current form, it would significantly change the federal regulatory process.
Specific concerns noted in the minister’s Senate submission include:
the lack of information and meaningful engagement on what projects will be subject to federal regulatory reviews;
the lack of predictability and risk of political interference created by the federal minister’s ability to intervene and designate projects for additional review;
the additional resources and timelines created with the introduction of a new formal planning phase; and
a lack of clarity on the incorporation of traditional knowledge, the role of Indigenous authorities and how the commitment in Bill C-69 to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will impact the issue of consent regarding environmental assessment decision-making.
“As it stands, Bill C-69 does not strike an appropriate balance between environmental protection and economic growth,” said Pedersen. “It risks the future prosperity for Manitoba communities and families that our government is positioned to support, without meaningfully improving environmental outcomes.”
The minister noted Manitoba joins a majority of Canadian provinces and territories that have been critical of the federal government over Bill C-69, arguing it does not achieve its objectives and is too complex, expensive and time-consuming.