A coalition of nine First Nations from coastal British Columbia is demanding that unelected senators endorse the Trudeau government’s bill to ban tanker traffic on the province’s northern coast, after the Senate Energy Committee defeated the measure on a tie vote May 15.
“As First Nation leaders, we are accustomed to elected politicians not living up to the promises they make to our nations and communities,” says an open letter to parliamentarians signed by Coastal First Nations President Chief Marilyn Slett. “But when a group of unelected senators moved recently to overturn a government election pledge banning oil tankers on Canada’s sensitive North Pacific coast, we realized that we had a different kind of fight on our hands.”
Slett urged senators to “respect your own traditions and practices as an appointed chamber,” adding that “we don’t agree that senators have a democratic mandate, and therefore the legitimacy, to kill this bill.”
Though the committee vote took place in mid-May, “the report with the recommendation has not yet been presented to the Senate,” notes iPolitics [subs req’d]. Once the bill reaches the full chamber, “opponents may stall a vote on the bill using a variety of tactics. It includes prolonging the report stage and moving motions to adjourn and return debate once it reaches the floor. Senators are also allocated 15 minutes to speak on the bill,” and at least three dozen of them oppose it.In a CBC interview May 18, Senate Transport Chair David Tkachuk (C, Saskatchewan) said the tanker ban should only be passed if the Trudeau Liberals win re-election in October, calling the bill “irrational” and a “direct attack on the resource industry in Canada”. Though claiming he didn’t believe unelected Senators “should defeat a bill of the elected members,” he asserted that “if it never gets past the post it won’t bother me one bit.”