OTTAWA — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is warning that if a federal bill overhauling environmental assessments passes in its current form, it will threaten Canadian unity and there will be “an immediate constitutional challenge.”
Kenney is at the Senate energy committee this morning to talk about Bill C-69 — what he calls the “no more pipelines” bill — saying the bill flagrantly violates Alberta’s constitutional right to regulate its natural resources.
Kenney wants all the amendments proposed by the former NDP government in Alberta accepted.
“This bill does not need a nip and tuck,” he said. “It needs major reconstructive surgery or it needs to be put out to pasture.”
Three federal ministers behind the bill are testifying at the committee — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Transport Minister Marc Garneau.
Kenney says a recent poll suggests half of Albertans are prepared to secede from Canada.
He says he thinks most people are just “blowing off steam” to express frustration, but contends that if support for seceding in Quebec was at 50 per cent, no federal government would try to pass a bill causing so much anger.
The legislation establishes a new process for reviewing major projects with a national scope or in federal jurisdiction.
The federal Liberals say it is needed to restore confidence in the assessment process and finally get big projects built.
Critics, however, say the bill gives too much political power to the federal cabinet to interfere and allows too much involvement of lobby groups that may not have any direct connection to a proposed project.
Later today, Kenney is to meet face-to-face with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the political foe he attacked relentlessly in his successful bid to become Alberta’s premier.
Kenney, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, spent as much or more time during the Alberta election campaign attacking Trudeau than his main provincial adversary, Rachel Notley, whose NDP government Kenney’s United Conservatives defeated on April 16.
Indeed, Kenney repeatedly urged Albertans to defeat what he called the “Trudeau-Notley alliance” and shared a stage during the campaign with federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
He has also promised to fight the Liberals in court over the imposition of a carbon tax and has threatened to hold a referendum on federal equalization if there’s no substantive progress on building a pipeline to get Alberta’s oil to overseas markets.