Alberta condemns changes to ‘No More Pipelines’ law, forewarns more federal intrusion

'This is simply unacceptable, and Alberta, when it comes to intra-provincial projects, will not recognize the Impact Assessment Act as valid law,’ reads a joint statement.

Alberta condemns changes to ‘No More Pipelines’ law, forewarns more federal intrusion
The Canadian Press / Jeff McIntosh and The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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The Alberta government is considering a court challenge after Ottawa tabled changes to the “unconstitutional” Impact Assessment Act (IAA).

“Even with these amendments, the act is still unconstitutional,” reads a joint statement from Premier Danielle Smith, Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz, and Solicitor General Mickey Amery.

In April, the Trudeau Liberals tabled several proposed amendments in a budgetary bill, responding to a 5-2 Supreme Court decision last October that some aspects were “too broad” and “unconstitutional.”

Environment and Climate Change Canada prioritized changes to project designation, screening decision, public interest decision, the definition of federal effects, and cooperative federalism to “ensure the IAA is constitutionally sound.”

However, Premier Smith says the amendments still permit federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction, and threaten the development of in-situ oil sands projects and major roadways.

“This is simply unacceptable, and Alberta, when it comes to intra-provincial projects, will not recognize the Impact Assessment Act as valid law,” reads the statement.

Formerly known as Bill C-69, the bill granted federal regulators oversight into the environmental and social impacts of “designated projects.”

Despite posing a commitment to uphold cooperative federalism, the news release says Alberta was not consulted on the amendments. 

Smith and her cabinet contend the constitutional crisis may have been avoided if Ottawa consulted the province following the Supreme Court decision.

Instead, Alberta received “vague letters and blank templates.” 

“The failure to work collaboratively with Alberta is a choice made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Guilbeault,” says Smith, Schulz, and Amery.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault claims Ottawa consulted the provinces and territories on the proposed changes, with critical mining, nuclear and offshore wind projects in the works.

“We need many of these projects to help us make the transition that is needed to transform Canada's economy,”  he told reporters Tuesday. The aim is to create jobs and achieve federal climate targets,” said the environment minister.

The Government of Alberta said it reviewed the proposed amendments, but notes “it's not as simple as making a few tweaks and edits.”

The province previously threatened to take Ottawa to court over its proposed plastics registry and production cap.

The federal court already sided with Alberta and Saskatchewan in another case, finding Ottawa’s prospective ban on “toxic” single-use plastics was “both unreasonable and unconstitutional.” 

“Choices have consequences. Alberta has won in court twice in the past year, and we are ready to win again,” reads the joint statement. 

“It seems that Premier Smith will oppose us on all things on the environment and climate change,” Guilbeault said. “It is obviously her choice.”

“Unfortunately, that doesn't change [the risk of] climate change,” he added.

Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson chimed in, stating he spoke at great lengths with the Government of Alberta about nuclear provisions.

“I can't remember a time that Alberta actually came here and proposed their legislative changes for consultation,” he said. “But certainly, there were discussions.”

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