Bill C-69 protesters with nice professionally printed picket signs in Calgary last spring (Photo: Mike Symington, CBC).

Another day, another Alberta Government talking point exposed as codswallop.

Yesterday, we compared and contrasted what the United Conservative Party Government used to say about the former NDP government’s carbon tax with reality. Viz., it was destroying the economy (UCP), versus, it effectively had no negative impact on the Alberta economy (the government’s own officials).

U of C Research Associate Victoria Goodday (Photo: Twitter).

Today, let’s take a peek at Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, which Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and other members of his government have repeatedly called “the No-More Pipelines Bill.”

As in the case of the ginned-up brouhaha over the Notley Government’s painless but poorly sold carbon levy, Mr. Kenney’s overheated rhetoric about the federal Liberals’ environmental assessment bill that was finally passed by the Senate last spring and thereafter was constantly assailed in the lead-up to the federal election in October turns out also to have been vastly exaggerated.

Leastways, a short paper published yesterday by U of C School of Public Policy Research Associate Victoria Goodday, who studies legal frameworks for natural resources management, took a look at C-69 and found much ado about nothing.

In her paper — Demystifying Bill C-69: The Project List — Ms. Goodday asked: Is the backlash over the IAA justified?” Her conclusion. Nope, it isn’t. 

CECL CEO and Managing Director Tom Olsen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Comparing the list of project types that must be reviewed for environmental impact under the IAA with that of the previous legislation, the Harper-Government-era Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, Ms. Goodday found changes, but not all that much change.

That is to say, the details changed, but the impact doesn’t seem to be all that different.

“Specific to petroleum-based energy projects (oil, gas and coal), 50 per cent of projects under this activity type (14) remained unchanged from CEAA,” she noted.

“Of the project descriptions changed, five became less stringent … and six became more stringent through broadened scope,” she said.

Readers will get the idea. Her key finding, relative to Mr. Kenney’s political rhetoric, was this: “The IAA list is arguably more lenient than CEAA on oil and gas pipeline proponents.” (Emphasis added.)

Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“Of the four oil and gas pipeline entries, the impact is split: one removed, one less stringent, one more stringent and one new,” she also noted. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, you should read the paper yourself. It’s short, and reasonably accessible to a layperson.

Here’s her conclusion, which is important when we consider the sorry state of political discourse in this province: “Based solely on a comparison of projects that will automatically require federal review, it is not likely that the IAA will be a disabler of major infrastructure projects, especially oil and gas pipeline infrastructure, as compared to the outgoing CEAA.”

From this, it’s reasonable to conclude that all the sound and fury about Bill C-69 was a way to attack Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and had very little to do with any change in the complexity or difficulty of getting pipelines approved.

Embarrassingly factual stuff like this is not likely to be the topic of a softball feature story by the Kenney Government War Room website — whose mission Managing Director Tom Olsen recently accurately described, presumably in an unintended slip of the tongue, as “disproving true facts.” Thankfully the paper is probably also too technical to inspire a news release attacking the author and setting out the Kenney Government’s alternative facts.

Speaking of which, I wonder how Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.’s fact warriors are getting along with their effort to straighten out the Medicine Hat News?

They talk a very good game. Perhaps later today we’ll get to see what kind of a game the $30-million-a-year War Room actually plays. What do you want to bet it’s not a very good one?

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  1. Saying something even often, loudly and with apparent conviction does not necessarily make it so. We should be aware of hyperbole and exageration especially when used in political arguements.

    My first suspicion that Bill C 69 was being misrepresented was in the Conservatives calling it the No More Pipelines bill. I suppose that could be their opinion, whether the case or not, but if repeated often enough with forcefullness and confidence much of the public eventually accepts it as fact.

    I suppose it also fits in well with all the existing anxiety here about pipeline delays and possible road blocks. Mr. Kenney’s skill is knowing how to make and recognizing a political arguement that resonates with a lots of Albertans, truth has nothing to do with it. Also, constant repitition largely unchallenged reinforces it to the point it becomes very difficult to challenge it in public perception later.

    My second hunch this was perhaps not true is the timing. It came out conveniently just before elections to bash political opponents. Interestingly, around the time of his recent meeting with Mr. Kenney well after these elections were over, the Prime Minister indicated it was the regulations and how they would be applied that were most important with regards to C 69 and they would not be inflexible as feared. I suppose we will see if this is so, but it is just further support that all the political hyperbole and exageration around this bill by the UCP and Conservatives were probably just that.

  2. They can buy a lot of squirrels for $30 million, problem is they seem to be stuck on the same one. Selling more $2 hamburgers didn’t help McDonalds or their workers along those lines selling more tar at low prices won’t help Alberta or Albertans.

  3. I suppose thoughtful and contrarian perspectives relative to UCP partisan hackery will soon to be considered “thought-crimes”. Worse, it may serve as a rationale for an organized purge of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions of any speck of views that do not follow the UCP handbook of a special kind of crazy. If the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. actions are considered (and hoped to be) toothless, give it a few months and the Centre’s arsenal will include a new set of fangs.

    From a legal standpoint, it will be interesting to see how many different ways the Notwithstanding Clause can be defined and twisted to serve the UCP’s ends. The fun is just getting started.

    How will this effect Kenney’s CPC leadership ambitions? Who can say? But if Kenney is the best option available, Caroline Mulroney is looking better and better all the time.

  4. Of course it won’t be.

    It’s important to note that Kenney’s UCP is a fact-free government. In this they are very much like the Trump administration. What is important to the club members in these deceitful groups is fealty to ideology. Very much ‘the ends justify the means’ type of crowd. You know, like the Taliban or ISIS.

    Where Kenney’s UCP nutjobs differ from the Trump belligerents is in the promotion of so-called religious practices or so-called Christian ideologies. In this they are very much like any other religious crusade through the milleniums or the whackjobs in the Middle East.
    Kenney’s Konservative Kronys will use adherence to a book of rules written thousands of years ago by ignorant, mostly illiterate, hand-to-mouth subsistence nomads to control the population and at least homage to the idea of adherence to control membership in the club.

    Truth does not matter to these people.

  5. Another War Room offering:

    “Calgary ‘Indigeneer’ shaping the future of Canadian Energy”

    “Deanna Burgart is somewhat of an anomaly: She’s an Indigenous woman, a pipeline expert, an engineer and an educator who is passionate about balancing respect for Mother Earth with sustainable energy practices.”

    Why exactly is she an “anomaly”. Alberta has 38,693 engineers and 6.5% Indigenous population, so statistically you would expect 1257 Indigenous women engineers. Is she an anomaly because the other 1256 Indigenous women engineers are not passionate about respect for Mother Earth? Or the male or non-Indigenous engineers?

    Of course, I am joking about the 1257 Alberta Indigenous women engineers. She is an anomaly because she is one. The War Room brags about “Canada’s world-leading commitment to human rights, labour rights …” but they are displaying blatantly racist and sexist attitudes here.

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