Home Regular Contributors David MacLean Bill C-69 is a Direct Threat to Manufacturers

Bill C-69 is a Direct Threat to Manufacturers

David MacLean.

It’s almost hard to believe the disastrous Bill C-69 made it to the Senate in its current form. It’s so bad that during hearings on the bill with the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, CME was joined by virtually every business association of consequence with a laundry list of complaints. Even Premier Notley appeared before the committee to plead for massive changes.

What has gone so wrong began as a good idea. The intent was to create a regulatory approval process to approve major resource and infrastructure projects – such as pipelines, mines and airports – in Canada.

Canada’s manufacturers and exporters support the development of Canadian energy and understand the intent of Bill C-69, but in its current form, Bill C-69 fails to do that. The bill will make it more difficult and (in some cases, impossible) to proceed with nationally significant natural resource development projects.

We can’t seem to get things built in Canada and we’ve failed to tap into the wealth of our vast natural resources. Our regulatory system must do far more to facilitate economic growth and competitiveness. A lack of policy clarity has resulted in disputes being settled in court, causing delays and uncertainty. This has cost Canada billions of dollars in investment – investment Canadian manufacturers rely on for their businesses.

As it stands, Bill C-69 places all the emphasis on mitigating assumed potential adverse environmental impacts and ignores economic benefit. The legislation is littered with references to environmental bromides, but only makes passing reference to jobs and revenues for various levels of government.

In fact, the bill lays out the “factors to be considered” by the proposed new assessment agency in examining a project. There is no specific mention of economic benefits, but it goes to great lengths to spell out climate commitments, adverse impacts on Indigenous groups and to “the intersection of sex and gender and other identity factors.”

And, despite the stellar health and safety record of Canada’s pipeline and nuclear industries, Bill C-69 will move the approval and condition-setting function for pipelines and nuclear facilities from bodies such as the National Energy Board (NEB), Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Boards to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. Life cycle regulators must not be removed from the project approval process.

Bill C-69 is a mess and must be fundamentally changed before it becomes law. It’s not just about energy and mines. This legislation will set the tone for economic development for years to come – and will impact every aspect of the Canadian economy. We simply must get it right.

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is the voice of Canadian manufacturing. CME represents more than 2,500 companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.