Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on Bill C-69 in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.
Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The federal Liberals bend the law for a Quebec company that allegedly paid for prostitutes for a Libyan strongman’s son.Meanwhile, Premier Rachel Notley goes to Ottawa to convince senators that an entirely different bill is ruinous to western oil, gas and other resources.On vivid display is the Trudeau government’s fierce loyalty to Quebec, and its destructive paternalism toward the West’s interests.Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould riveted the nation on Wednesday with her tale of improper pressure to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin.As that was happening, Montreal’s La Presse broke news of SNC-Lavalin apparently paying $30,000 in 2008 for “sexual services” for the son of the former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.He was visiting Canada hoping to improve his English, apparently starting with “yes, yes!”On Thursday, Notley was desperately trying to persuade senators to radically improve Bill C-69.It was left to two women, both lawyers, to make calm and reasonable cases for fair law wisely applied.The Liberals wanted Wilson-Raybould to bend the law so that SNC-Lavalin wouldn’t face criminal trial for charges of bribery and fraud in Libya.Notley is trying to save the country from a law which is either astonishingly sloppy, or actively designed to drive Alberta’s main industry out of business.Only days ago, we might have suspected simple incompetence. Now the sleaze of the SNC-Lavalin case suggests something more cunning and intentional.It’s not as if Bill C-69 is anything new. It has passed five votes in the Commons and the Senate since last February. Even the dimmest Liberal legislator had time to see its dire implications.But they keep on passing that thing.Second Commons reading was March 19 last year. Then came third reading on June 20.Off to the Senate it went, for passage on first reading the same day, and second reading Dec. 12.It’s now one vote call from utter disaster.Related Several provinces have sent urgent submissions to Ottawa, warning that the bill will delay projects endlessly while giving all the say to objectors, and no credit at all to positive economic impacts and job creation of any project.The bill as it stands is a power grab of Canada’s resource sector by Catherine McKenna’s environment and climate change department. Unusually, it was sponsored by her, not the natural resources minister.C-69 also challenges provincial ownership and development of natural resources, a constitutional guarantee.The feds could step into Alberta, for instance, and re-regulate a refinery project or local pipeline already studied and approved by the province.One of Notley’s arguments Thursday was that Ottawa should leave projects within a province to provincial regulators.She pointed out, for possibly the 1,000th time, that Alberta has strict regulation and also a vigorous environmental and climate plan.The premier got friendly attention from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia senators. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball shared many of her concerns.And everybody wonders, why would Ottawa want to regulate all these things?The week’s events suggest what Notley clearly suspects: it’s all about control that would eventually be used to wind down oil and gas as a major national industry.She demands a clear legal statement of what Bill C-69 would regulate, and what it would not. She says the minister should only be able to add a project to the review list if it clearly involved federal jurisdiction.Federal officials have provided assurances all this will be done.But Notley saved her best line for last:“You’re not going to build trust in industry by saying ‘trust us.’ And there’s a lot of ‘trust us’ in the current version (of C-69).”She wants the issues made clear in law. That would be better, although the Liberals have already shown what happens when they don’t like a clear law.Trust them? This week, who could?Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Heralddbraid@postmedia.comTwitter: @DonBraidFacebook: Don Braid Politics