Nfld. & Labrador

Ches Crosbie threatens legal action to protect NL's 'ethical' oil industry

Jobs and prosperity "are being invaded by the Trudeau federal government and his tame lapdog, Dwight Ball," said the PC Leader.

PC leader calls Dwight Ball a 'lapdog' of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

PC Leader Ches Crosbie pledged Tuesday to take whatever legal means necessary, including court action, to protect Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry from what he calls a deliberate attempt by the federal Liberals to shut down the industry. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

PC Leader Ches Crosbie staged a news conference in St. John's Tuesday in which he threatened legal action against the federal government and described Liberal Leader Dwight Ball as a "lapdog" to the prime minister.

Crosbie called reporters to the Delta Hotel, where a committee of the Senate of Canada was holding a public hearing into the controversial Bill C-69, which aims to overhaul existing environmental assessment legislation.

The proposed legislation has raised alarm among those in the natural resources sector, including Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil and gas industry. The fear is that it will gum up the approval process and choke off development in the offshore.

Ottawa wants to kill oil industry, says Crosbie

Ball's Liberal government lobbied their Liberal cousins in Ottawa for changes to the bill, but Crosbie strongly criticized those efforts Tuesday, calling them weak and describing Ball as a servant to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Our offshore, and the jobs and the prosperity and the hopes that represents to us here in the province, are being invaded by the Trudeau federal government and his tame lapdog, Dwight Ball," said Crosbie.

Our offshore, and the jobs and the prosperity and the hopes that represents to us here in the province, are being invaded by theTrudeau federal government and his tame lapdog, Dwight Ball.- Ches Crosbie

Crosbie accused Trudeau's government of trying to kill the oil industry with layers of bureaucracy and over-regulation that will eventually force oil companies to take their investment elsewhere.

"I will fight back against this invasion of our power under the Atlantic Accord by every lawful means, including court action if necessary," he said.

The Atlantic Accord guarantees the province will be the principal beneficiary of its oil and gas resource through mirror legislation at the federal and provincial levels. Crosbie believes Bill C-69 is a threat to the accord, and would seek an opinion from the province's highest court if elected premier.

Permitting process slowing down

Crosbie said the approval process for exploration permitting has increased from nine months to 33 months.

The province's oil and gas industry association has also produced a report showing that the approval process is "seven to eight times longer" in offshore Newfoundland and Labrador than it is in countries such as Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia.

In a twist to the "no more pipelines" slogan that has surfaced in Alberta, Crosbie referred to Bill C-69 as the "no more offshore bill," and asserted that Trudeau and his government "don't believe in petroleum."

When asked about the environmental threat posed by the petroleum industry, Crosbie was unapologetic. He described the light, sweet crude produced in the offshore as "ethical oil" that produces 30 to 50 per cent less carbon that the world average.

"The world will need oil for decades to come. It should be our oil," he said.

"We can let Saudi Arabia supply this oil, or we can do it ourselves to develop our economy, to create jobs and prosperity right here at home and develop a sustainable economy for the post-oil economy that's coming decades down the road."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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