Tempers flare over Bill C-69, the Liberals’ environmental review overhaul that has pit miners against the oilpatch
TORONTO/CALGARY – It’s a Friday afternoon in January and Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, is tired of responding to angry emails from people he doesn’t know.
For the second time in as many months, his inbox and phone line were flooded with messages — some polite, some he calls “hate mail” — from people opposed to Bill C-69, the planned overhaul of the federal environmental review process.
Few pieces of legislation stir up raw emotion within the resources sector as much as those connected to environmental reviews, which require companies to study the impacts of their projects, sometimes at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and sometimes opening them up to legal challenges that can create years-long delays.
If passed, Bill C-69 would change who can intervene in hearings about building energy pipelines, mines or even power lines. It also would change who must be consulted and what impacts must be studied before construction can begin. The bill carries the potential to reshape Canada’s natural resources economy.
Such legislation typically pleases special interest groups such as environmentalists, but industry usually takes a dimmer view. Yet for much of the past year, the country’s resources sector has been at odds on what to make of the bill, often splitting along geographic and sector lines.