An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
FOR AN ORGANIZATION that wants politics kept out of the environmental review process for pipelines and other major projects, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce has an interesting way of going about it.
The chamber “celebrated”— that’s their word — the new approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The TMX (as it’s now being called) will provide “much-needed revenue to fund many of the social, health and education services that Canadians, British Columbians and Kamloopsians rely on,” said the chamber.
Fair enough. But then there’s Bill C-69, the overhaul of the environmental review process. The chamber is unhappy that the Liberals rejected many of the Senate’s changes to the bill. It will “undermine our economy,” claims the chamber.
In a press release insisting all Senate amendments should be adopted, the chamber stated, “the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that has characterized the relations between industry and government since Confederation would be severely undermined.”
That’s getting uncomfortably close to the “undermining Canadian unity” rhetoric of Andrew Scheer and the Conservative premiers.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calls C-69 an attack on his province and promises to challenge it in the courts. Most of the changes proposed by Conservative senators — amendments that were seen as sympathetic to the oil and gas sector and not to the environment — were rejected.
Pundits are already predicting Bill C-69 will be a big issue in the federal election. Will the chamber be drawn into a political fight over the future of energy policy in this country?
The chamber is officially apolitical and expresses worry about the bill becoming an election issue but it’s a fine line. When you stake out your ground on such a highly political piece of legislation, it’s pretty hard to stay neutral.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.