OPINION: What national unity crisis? Even Quebec thinks C-69 is a bad bill – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – June 13, 2019)


If there is one principle on which Canadians agree it is that their province owns the natural resources within its borders. If there was ever any doubt, it was settled with the adoption of the 1982 Constitution Act, which explicitly recognizes provincial control over non-renewable resources, forestry and electrical energy. Ottawa oversees only inland and coastal fisheries.

Hence, there can be no national-unity crisis over a subject that unites Canadians. Whether they live in Newfoundland, Quebec, Northern Ontario, British Columbia or points in between, Canadians believe it’s up to their provincial government, not Ottawa, to oversee resource development – from B.C. natural-gas fields and Quebec hydropower to Ontario’s Ring of Fire.

So, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is wrong in insinuating that the six provincial and territorial premiers who this week wrote to him to express their opposition to Bill C-69 are “threatening our national unity if they don’t get their way.”

The premiers simply warned that the country could be headed for a “constitutional crisis” unless Ottawa accepts critical amendments to C-69, which would overhaul the federal environmental assessment process for major projects.

“Bill C-69 upsets the balance struck by the constitutional division of powers by ignoring the exclusive provincial powers over projects relating to [non-renewable, forestry and electrical] resources,” wrote Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his counterparts in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-what-national-unity-crisis-even-quebec-thinks-c-69-is-a-bad-bill/

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