Senate Narrowly Passes North Coast Oil Tanker Moratorium Bill

Oil tanker (Jonathan Hayward CP)

Legislation barring oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia has passed its final hurdle in the Senate despite last-minute attempts by Conservative senators to kill it.
   
Tories in both the House of Commons and the Senate say Bill C-48 is kneecapping Alberta's oil industry by limiting the movement of its oil.


    
But Skeena-Bulkley Valley New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen says it simply formalizes something that's been in place for nearly half-a-century.

"The certainty that we require is that these moratoriums that were voluntary, that were utterances from the government, will no longer be uncertain, they will be certain, and that is what this bill does -- and it also brings certainty to the industry, because last I checked -- someone can correct me -- there ain't no one knocking on the door to try to build a diluted bitumen pipeline to the North Coast because the risks so far outweigh the benefits," he said in the Commons, prior to the Senate vote.

The Senate passed the bill by a narrow margin of 49-to-46.

Senators also passed Bill C-69, which overhauls the federal environmental assessment process for major construction projects, by a vote of 57-37.

That bill imposes more requirements for consulting affected Indigenous communities, widens public participation in the review process and requires climate change to be considered when major national resource-exploitation and transportation projects are being evaluated.

Conservative premiers have said the bills threaten national unity, a claim Cullen called "shameful bullying".

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"You don't do national unity... by threatening and bullying other Canadians, you don't bring this country together by yelling at each other, you don't represent the best interests of Canada when you talk to another province in a disrespectful and offensive way, and unfortunately what we're seeing out of some of our provinces is to suggest that British Columbia, the place that we call home:  how dare we stand up for things that we believe in?!" he said in the Commons.

First Nations were divided on the Tanker Moratorium bill, with many demanding that it be adopted, but others, such as the elected Lax Kw'alaams Government, with Mayor John Helin saying it would unfairly target communities such as his, which he said is seeking opportunities to capitalize on potential natural resource development.

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