Changing Our Future through Bill C-69: what it means for all of us

In 2018 a piece of parliamentary legislation created as much controversy as support. Bill C-69 is the Federal government’s attempt to lessen our impact on our environment through good business practice. Though it has good intentions, it’s had a hard time gaining traction, and no wonder: while it’s all about increasing environmental stewardship and empowering Indigenous communities to protect their territories, it’s also perceived as adding many more bureaucratic hoops for projects in the oil and gas industries to jump through — this at a time when that industry faces some tough challenges.

Bill C-69 overhauls the Federal Environmental Assessment. Changes include a new Impact Assessment Act, replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012, and a new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. It’s currently before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, The Environment and Natural Resources.

According to PR Associates, “the Act broadens the scope of the assessment process and adds enhanced consultation with groups, particularly Indigenous groups that may be affected.”

What it means for some is a better approach to protecting our resources for future generations. EcoJustice lawyer Josh Ginsberg is optimistic, particularly given amendments made to the Bill that took Indigenous community feedback into account. He says it’s “an important milestone that brings us one step closer to restoring environmental protections that were stripped away by the previous Federal government in 2012.”

What it means for others is uncertainty and the potential of stalled projects and bureaucratic logjams. Opponents of the Bill feel its impact will further weaken an already struggling oil and gas industry; this at a time when the Federal government says they are looking to stimulate economic growth and cut red tape.

Here’s what Stephen Buffalo, President and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, wrote on the issue for the Toronto Sun: “the 130 oil and gas-producing members of the Indian Resource Council are truly feeling the pinch… Bill C-69 …is a complex issue… First Nations and industry are working on many different fronts to build a solid, environmentally sound foundation for the oil and gas industry. The whole country needs time to make sense of the implications.”

Why is Bill C-69 and the debate over it important here at the ABM network? Because it affects you, our partners. It complicates current and future projects, so it’s more important than ever for our team to be aware and connected to help you succeed. We are that safe space and place where communities meet with business. Our delegates are prepared to offer more than economics. They are actively working to align their business with sustainable practice, and have answers speaking to a wider scope of benefits.

With a positive perspective, we see the increased focus the federal government has placed on environmental stewardship may create short term headaches but sets us up for long-term protection. We believe it can bring even more meaningful conversations between communities and businesses. Communities will have more responsibility in the process and get a better sense of inclusion.

Our structure has already provided for matching the right business to the opportunity, with benefit to the communities and greater good. Our matching model is more relevant than ever when you’re looking to connect and collaborate on projects that impact our environment.

Will Bill C-69 impact your business? Let us know how, and what your strategy for environmental sustainability is moving forward.

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

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