OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conservative premiers are playing games with national unity by threatening the country’s future if they don’t get their way on an environmental-assessment bill.
The six premiers said in a letter to Trudeau Monday that he must accept every one of the amendments the Senate has made to Bill C-69.
“I think it’s absolutely irresponsible for Conservative premiers to be threatening our national unity if they don’t get their way,” Trudeau said. “The fundamental job of any Canadian prime minister is to hold this country together and move forward in the right way. Anyone who wants to be prime minister, like Andrew Scheer, needs to condemn those attacks.”
The Senate made 187 amendments to the bill, which overhauls how Canada assesses major national energy and transportation projects for their environmental, economic and health impacts.
Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt says the prime minister has a duty to listen to the five provincial and one territorial premiers’ demands because they represent a majority of the Canadian population.
Trudeau has indicated his government will accept some amendments that improve the bill, but not all of them, including one that he says makes it optional to consult Indigenous communities.
He also raised his concern during Question Period.
“Mr. Speaker, one of the amendments proposed by the Senate is to make Indigenous consultations optional — I don’t think Canadians want to go back to Stephen Harper’s years of ignoring Indigenous peoples in how we build resource projects,” he said. “That’s a good way to get nothing done, the way Stephen Harper did over 10 years.”