Alberta energy minister says changes ultimately needed to federal energy policy
OTTAWA – Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage says comments made by members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle that the federal government is flexible on the "implementation" of energy policy, aren’t substantive.
"There is no issue with the implementation of Bill C-48, the tanker ban. I mean there’s either a ban or there’s not a ban, that’s not an implementation issue," Savage told CTVNews.ca.
Both Bill C-48 and C-69 – which overhauls the environmental assessment of major infrastructure projects – directly impact the production and distribution of natural resources in Prairie provinces.
On Thursday, heading into the Liberal’s first closed-door cabinet meeting, newly appointed Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said the application of this legislation would "make the real difference" for the West.
Asked what that looks like, the minister said he’s open to hearing ideas from investors and industry experts, as well as those in the political realm – experts like Savage, who is expected to meet with O’Regan on Friday.
"We need to see some changes whether it’s to regulations, whether it’s to interpretation of some of the provisions in C-69," said Savage. "Call it implementation; call it regulation, but ultimately it’s changes."
She said, however, that it was a positive development to see the government "acknowledge" there are issues with the legislation.
"I believe [Seamus] is very sincere about listening, and hearing, and understanding I just hope that some changes can be made," said Savage. "The ability to make changes is a whole of government approach coming out of Ottawa."
Later in the day, John Wilkinson, the new environment minister, reinforced his colleague’s suggestion that wiggle room could be made available in the execution of energy policy.
"We’re not going to reopen the legislation but we’re certainly open to constructive suggestions in the context of how we implement those bills," said Wilkinson.
In the context of Bill C-69 specifically, the minister said it still holds value and is a "significant improvement" to the assessment process.
"A big focus is on ensuring on the front end that we are flagging issues of concern so that we can address those early on in the process. It will enable us to ensure good projects proceed and that not good projects are either reformatted or they don’t go ahead."