Proposed Bill C-69 amendments to limit 'poking' from politicians

Proposed changes to the federal government's environmental assessment legislation have been unveiled by an independent group seeking change.

About 70 proposed changes being introduced

Protesters came out to voice concerns about Bill C-69 as the Senate committee met April 11 in Calgary to gather input. The committee unveiled its proposed amendments May 8. (CBC)

Proposed changes to the federal government's environmental assessment legislation have been unveiled by a group seeking change.

An independent group of senators introduced late Tuesday a host of proposed amendments to Bill C-69, which has been painted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as the "no more pipelines" bill.

Alberta Senator Paula Simons, who is part of that group, was on the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday. She agreed that the bill — in its current form — is flawed.

"Conservative senators have amendments. The independent senators have amendments, and we're trying to sort of see where there's duplication and intersection, and where we might actually have some agreement," Simons said.

Sen. Paula Simons said Bill C-69 in its current form is flawed. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Simons said the group wants to protect the bill from ministerial interference — and wants the public and industry to feel that the bill is shaped by evidence, facts and an analysis of environmental impact.

"We've come up with a package of amendments that really entrench the independence and the power of the assessment agency itself," she said.

"Not having a politician poke, poke, poking with their fingers," Simons said.

There are around 70 proposed amendments, and many of them are centred around what the group calls its key objectives — increased clarity and predictability in project assessment and approval process, reduced litigation risk, and improved use of the expertise and experience of the life-cycle regulators during impact assessment.

Simons said the committee is aiming to create a bill that works for the energy industry while protecting the environment and First Nations rights.

But even if all the proposed changes are approved, Simons doesn't think everyone will be happy with the bill.

"Frankly, there's been so much anger about this bill, some of it legitimate, some of it not quite so legitimate. But the bill has become a scapegoat for lots of other issues that people in Alberta are having right now," she said.

The amendments were partially introduced Tuesday evening on a clause-by-clause basis in the standing Senate committee on energy, the environment and natural resources.

Simons tweeted that they will continue the clause-by-clause introduction Thursday morning.