Mayor Gerald Aalbers is pictured in his office at City Hall. Photo by James Wood/106.1 The Goat/Vista Radio
Mayor Gerald Aalbers is praising the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications decision to vote against Bill C-48. The controversial bill banning Canadian oil tankers on B.C.’s north coast has faced criticism from many leaders who deem the bill a threat to the oil and gas industry.
On a 6-6 vote, the Senate committee decided the bill should not proceed. That being said, the bill isn’t dead in the water and is expected to be brought back for a third reading. Mayor Aalbers was one of the many community leaders to speak to the Senate committee. He’s pleased with the committee’s recommendation and is happy to know him and other leaders have been heard.
“I think it’s a terrific indication of what the Senate committee heard from myself, other mayors, industry and communities that would be affected, that we felt Bill C-48 was not in the best interestof this country,” says Aalbers, adding there is still another hurdle it needs to make.
“The entire Senate now has to vote on this, and it was great to see the independent senator from Alberta, Paula Simons, indicated that she heard the message people were conveying to her. Now the question is, will the entire Senate? Because the Senate could certainly pass the bill, and that will be up to the hundred plus Senators we have for the entire country.”
The Independent Senators Group, comprised of members appointed by both Liberal and Conservative governments, currently hold a majority in the Senate with 58 seats. Conservative senators hold 31 seats while Liberals hold 9, with 7 non-affiliated senators and one vacant seat. Mayor Aalbers holds that it’s important for people to contact their senators and let them know how this bill will impact the regional economy.
“Time will tell, and I hate predicting political events because things sometimes come back. I think it’s important that people continue to reach out to senators; you have the ability to contact them by email or by letter and let them know how people feel about the tanker ban.
“I hope for our community, and for the industry that supports this community greatly, that this bill gets sent back to parliament for re-working, or gets stopped in its tracks.”
Aalbers believes the bill is not in the best interest of Canada and admits he’d like to see it scrapped entirely. He holds that the contentious Bill C-69, an overhaul of environmental impact assessment on new infrastructure projects, is also before the Senate and could spell trouble for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.