Mayor Gerald Aalbers says he’s disappointed with the Senate’s decision on Bill C-48. The rejection of a comittee report that said the bill would jeopardize national unity, and would have killed the legislation right there, was rejected.
Bill C-48 has now been granted third reading, and many believe it will become law. The law bans Canadian oil tanker traffic on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Mayor Aalbers had the chance to speak with the Senate committee, alongside other mayors and elected officials in May. When there, Aalbers says the majority of those speaking voiced concerns about the ban and how it may affect the country.
“Everything from introducing a ban that only affects a portion of the Canadian coastline, rather than the entire coastline,” said Aalbers. “But the intention is to ban shipments from the northwest portion of British Columbia’s coast, yet we have oil shipments sent from every other part of the coast, or oil being imported into Canada on other parts of the coast. So it’s really confusing as to what message was being sent to industry, and to the world, as to where we stand on tankers and oil.”
Aalbers doesn’t believe the Senate’s decision isn’t reflective of the majority of Canadians. Recently, he and Coiuncillor Jonathon Torresan visited the annual Federation of Canadian Municipality conference in Quebec City. He had the chance to discuss a variety of issues and give Lloydminster a platform at the FCM conference. During those discussions, Aalbers found some were anti-energy, many were supportivw of the oil and gas industry.
“We do have challenges in Quebec that we understand, and we had great conversartions with people in Quebec that represent the electorate from the municipal level. We understand some of their concerns and hopefully shared some information to help alleviate those concerns, and encourage industry to play a part in that. Because the energy industry is the people who are proposing to take the pipeline across Quebec, so they need to be part of that conversation as well.”
The Senate has the option to present amendments to the legislation. Those amendments, however, will be accepted at the discretion of the Liberal government. Aalbers has reservations in believing amendments to the bill will be accepted but remains hopeful that some might be. That being said, he believes there are other courses of action that can be taken to help promote the energy industry in the long-term.
“Some municipal leaders have been in contact with me, and we’re going to be trying reach out to as many independent senators as we can, trying to help them understand where this could go and the nature of how the act moves forward,” said Aalbers, adding that a second approach calls for playing a long game.
“I think we have to play the long game, and have those conversations with people and help them understand; how safe pipelines they are, the values of pipelines and what they add to the Canadian economy. For many, they don’t have experience with pipelines. They simply go buy gasoline or diesel at their local service station, and it doesn’t matter how it gets there. I think we need to have that long conversation about how it can get there and where it comes from, be it foreign or domestic, and help them understand the value of domestic fuels that we have.”