File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS On a 6-6 vote, the Senate’s transportation and communications committee rejected Bill C-48 Wednesday night. The House of Commons passed the bill a week ago and its failure in a Senate committee doesn’t mean it’s dead, but the vote is a blow for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.

Federal oil tanker ban bill defeated in Senate, but legislation not dead

OTTAWA — A federal ban on tanker traffic off British Columbia’s north coast has been defeated in a Senate committee.

On a 6-6 vote, the Senate’s transportation and communications committee rejected Bill C-48 Wednesday night.

The committee’s five Conservative senators voted against it, joined by Alberta independent Paula Simons.

Five other independents and one self-identified Liberal voted in favour.

When the result was clear — a tie vote means whatever is being proposed fails — the bill’s opponents applauded briefly in the Senate committee room.

“The bill is defeated,” declared the committee’s chairman, Saskatchewan Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk.

The House of Commons passed the bill a week ago and its failure in a Senate committee doesn’t mean it’s dead, but the vote is a blow for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.

Bill C-48 would put into a law a longstanding voluntary moratorium on coastal tanker traffic between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska border, which is meant to protect delicate marine environments from potential spills.

More precisely, the bill would forbid tankers carrying more than 12,500 tonnes of oil from loading or unloading in the exclusion zone, either directly at ports or by using other ships as intermediaries.

Simons said late in the debate that she wasn’t confident that enough homework had been done to justify a permanent ban — that the bill would lock in a temporary measure based on limited research more than 40 years ago.

“I felt it was important as an Albertan, as a member on this committee, to come here with goodwill, to work towards amendments that would somehow strike a compromise where we could both protect one of Canada’s most extraordinary ecosystems while simultaneously not slamming the door in the face of the people of Alberta,” Simons said.

She might have backed a temporary legal restriction on tankers to allow further research, she said, but couldn’t support the bill as it stood.

Along with Bill C-69, which is meant to reform the federal assessment process for national-scale construction projects and is also in the Senate, Bill C-48 has enraged many backers of the Canadian oil industry, including Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

“This is a victory for common sense & economic growth,” Kenney tweeted after the vote. “Thank-you to Senators for listening to Albertans & respecting fairness in our federation!”

Conservatives in the Senate said voting down the bill is a win for Canada’s energy industry, leaving open the possibility of exporting Canadian oil from northern B.C. ports.

The now-aborted Northern Gateway pipeline project, for instance, would have carried Alberta oil to Kitimat, B.C., in the no-tanker zone.

“This bill would only make the issue of landlocked Canadian oil worse,” said a statement from Sen. Larry Smith, the Conservative leader in the Senate.

The statement pointed out that Bill C-48 would forbid the transfer of oil onto or off ships in northern B.C. but wouldn’t stop tankers from passing through the area, impeding Canadian oil but not outlawing tanker traffic from Alaska.

The bill has divided First Nations. Some, such as the Nisga’a, see economic opportunity in pipelines. Others, including a nine-nation alliance of coastal First Nations, worry about irreversible damage to fisheries and nascent industries based on products such as essential oils from old-growth trees.

Just Posted

Israel’s Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday in a series… Continue reading

Red Deer Real Canadian Superstore program supports Filipino tradition

A Red Deer grocery store will help customers complete a modern Filipino… Continue reading

Worker knocked unconscious in Winnipeg liquor store robbery, one suspect charged

WINNIPEG — Police have charged a 15-year-old boy in a violent liquor… Continue reading

Ermineskin First Nation soon to become major electricity generator

One-megawatt solar energy project to begin selling power to provincial grid next month

Red dresses will be hung throughout Red Deer on Monday to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women

Events planned at RDC for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Israel’s Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday in a series… Continue reading

Worker knocked unconscious in Winnipeg liquor store robbery, one suspect charged

WINNIPEG — Police have charged a 15-year-old boy in a violent liquor… Continue reading

Forward Jace Isley bringing new energy to Rebels lineup

The 17-year-old was originally drafted as a defenceman but has reinvented himself upfront

Wine and Beyond opens its doors in Red Deer

Huge wine, beer and spirits store located in former Rona at 2610 50th Ave.

MAP: Red Deer Open Houses for Nov. 23-24

Plan your open house viewings with the attached map of listings in… Continue reading

Dealing with provinces will test Freeland’s talents

In the game of dominoes that is behind the making of Justin… Continue reading

Trump’s sanctions on Iran risk unexpected changes

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. It begins… Continue reading

Most Read