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Perspectives — September 18 – 20, 2018
Perspectives — September 18 – 20, 2018
September 25, 2018
OPINION

Last week at the Senate: Environmental review processes, legalized cannabis and the Girl Guides.

Government

Bill C-69 arrives at a pivotal moment in our history: when climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, and when marrying the strength of our economy with the protection of our environment is not an option; it’s an imperative.

In 2017, the natural resources sector accounted for 17% of Canada’s GDP and provided over 1.8 million jobs to Canadians.  The importance of this sector to the Canadian economy cannot be overstated.

Bill C-69 is premised upon the idea that competitiveness and building trust in project review processes are not mutually exclusive.

The legislation aims to ensure that the impacts of resource projects are being reviewed rigorously to help build public and Indigenous peoples’ trust. C-69 will also implement provisions to sustain and enhance industry’s competitiveness and investor confidence.

At times, the debate on Bill C-69 has been polarizing, with some saying that the legislation will render our resource industries uncompetitive, while others argue that the pressures on the environment and the ever more apparent effects of climate change demand greater rigour in our reviews. Bill C-69 contributes strongly to bridging this gap.

As a senator from Alberta, and the Senate sponsor of Bill C-69, I believe strongly in the need for sustainable economic and resource development.

Strengthening the environmental review process in Canada makes us more competitive, not less. Enhancing efficiency, transparency, and sustainability in the natural resource sector will benefit all Canadians. I am proud to support Bill C-69 in order to achieve these goals.


Opposition

The Senate resumed sitting last week, and our strong Conservative team in the Senate took the opportunity to ask the government serious questions.

Marijuana is set to become legal in Canada in less than four weeks. Last spring, the Senate studied the implications of legalization (Bill C-45); major concerns were raised such as the importance of providing law enforcement with the training and tools to keep our streets safe from drug impaired drivers.

But yet, we’ve learned that the Justice Minister recently approved an oral fluid drug screening device that many police forces have not ordered due to concerns over its accuracy in our cold climate, its number of false-negative and false-positive readings, and its high cost.

With legalization approaching quickly, Canadians deserve assurances from the government that there will be effective drug impaired driving detection devices to ensure their safety.

The Trans Mountain pipeline project is another failure on part of the Government. In May, when Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan at a cost of $4.5 billion in taxpayer’s dollars, he said that this would “secure the timely completion of the expansion project.”

Instead, the project is at a standstill. Almost three weeks have passed since the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the approval of the Trans Mountain expansion, and the government has yet to show Canadians a viable plan to get this pipeline built.

The government’s failure on Trans Mountain reflects its mismanagement of our energy sector.


Independent Senate Liberals

Last week I was delighted to move second reading of Bill S-1002, which aims to modernize the governing charter of the Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada.

In 1909, when girls in England demanded to participate in a Boy Scouts rally organized by Lord Baden-Powell at the Crystal Palace in London, he was impressed by their tenacity and initiative, and asked his sister Agnes to create a program just for girls.

One year later, Guiding came to Canada, and by 1912, there were Guiding units in every province. From their very first meetings, these girls knew what they wanted, which was an all-girl organization where they could make choices, have a voice and put their ideas into action.

For more than 100 years, Guiding has empowered girls to be confident, resilient, independent, open-minded and to be prepared. The organization continues to play a leading role in helping girls develop the skills and experience to try new things, with programming focused on self-esteem, mental health, financial literacy, healthy relationships and outdoor experiences. It provides a unique opportunity for empowerment in a safe and supportive environment, with programs that are responsive to issues facing girls in Canada.

The Girl Guides of Canada is committed to being an inclusive, diverse and relevant organization for today’s girls, and this should be reflected in their charter. These values are vital to their objective of providing a safe space where girls from all walks of life can become confident, resilient, independent, open-minded and fulfilled.