Lakeland municipalities continue to fight Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, as Ottawa rejects most of the amendments

Cold Lake, Bonnyville, M.D. of Bonnyville, St. Paul, Lac La Biche, and other surrounding communities have joined a growing number of municipalities in Western Canada calling on the federal government to scrap Bill C-48 and accept the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-69.

After a conference call with Senator David Tkachuk, urging continued action from Lakeland area municipal leaders, municipalities passed motions at their latest council meeting this week to continue fighting the bills.

Mayors and Reeves are receiving contact information for Senators who sit on the fence and try to steer their opinion, while their opposition would be read out during the bill’s consideration.

However, yesterday morning the House of Commons approved some but rejected most of the amendments put forward, including 90 per cent of the Conservative amendments.

The Coalition of Canadian Municipalities for Energy Action, led by the Town of Bonnyville and Municipality of Wood Buffalo, spoke at the Bill C-69 Senate committee in Fort McMurray on the bill, and a party of leaders travelled to Ottawa last month to meet with Senators and the Prime Minister’s Office on the impact Bill C-69 would have on the local economy and municipal infrastructure projects.

Discussions in Cold Lake city council on Tuesday described how these bills, the energy sector, and pipelines were hardly mentioned during the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City last week.

Councillor Bob Buckle said after FCM that national unity is at risk, in line with Premier Jason Kenney’s comments yesterday that: “Without substantial amendments, the bill clearly interferes in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and undermines the future of Canada’s energy sector, investor confidence, and national unity.”

Lakeland leaders upset and concerned over Bill C-69 amendments rejected

“Our community has suffered a deep, prolonged downturn and our residents have done their best to weather the poor economy and are looking for signs of hope – for signs of a recovery,” Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland said.

“Our federal government needs to create a competitive environment that will encourage investment. What these two bills are proposing will accomplish the opposite – they amount to kicking us when we are down.”

Mayor Copeland, Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski, and St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller all relayed the message from Senator Tkachuk that the ultimate goal of this government was shut down the oil sands in Fort McMurray and Alberta.

“I didn’t think the government would be so polarized and so bad that you’d have a Senators group that has so much drank the kool-aid…that paid political people can influence the messaging so badly that their intention is to shut down Alberta oil and basically turn Fort McMurray and the rest of us into ghost towns, for an idyllic proposition,” Sobolewski said.

The Morning After with Bonnyville Mayor, Gene Sobolewski

Posted by Lakeland Connect on Wednesday, June 12, 2019

“If we’re Alberta, how much of this can we take before we say we understand we’re not wanted? We’ll take our resources and go elsewhere. And if not, start that conversation, start that dialogue, to say we can probably prosper on our own.”

Reeve Greg Sawchuk described the challenge at FCM in talking with energy opponents as concerning.

“It’s concerning that there’s a lot of folks out there that believe our industry is not necessary to our country. It’s really going to come down to the election in the fall,” said Sawchuk.

St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller echoed the lack of conversation at FCM about Bill C-69 and Bill C-48.

“It’s odd because it’s not even a conversation down there. ‘What are you talking about? What bill?’ Very surprising,” said Miller.

“I don’t understand federally the support that we have, the employment east to west… I don’t get it. I don’t understand why it’s not a conversation east of Manitoba.”