A federal bill banning tanker traffic off the north coast of British Columbia may have been defeated, but it still represents a major rift between Canada’s provinces, according to former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.

“It poses a risk to national unity,” Wall said in a Thursday interview with BNN Bloomberg regarding the proposed Bill C-48, which was struck down in a 6-6 transportation and communications committee vote late Wednesday night.

“If this bill passes unchallenged, [and] if it gets to the full Senate and is approved by the federal government, it will exacerbate existing tensions in the country between the West and the centre, and they are growing.”

Wall did not mince words on how deep the divide between Western and Central Canada has grown.

“They are an order of magnitude greater – the tensions are – than they were even during the National Energy Program with the first Trudeau government and its anti-oil-and-gas policies.”

C-48 – which would put into a law a ban on coastal tanker traffic between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaska border – has been the subject of much debate between energy industry and environmental advocates. Another bone of contention is the feds’ proposed Bill C-69, which could greatly increase the regulatory approval process for major Canadian infrastructure projects, including pipelines.

Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday that she did not vote for Bill C-69 because she felt it did not do enough to ensure responsible environmental approaches to projects, and balked at the notion that these bills are designed to prevent Canadian oil from getting to international markets.

“It’s a house of cards without any evidence,” May said, saying that Canadian oil would be better served to help Canadian needs first.

However, she added that pitting Canada’s provinces against one another is not in the national interest.

“I really do think we need to look at what’s in our national economic interest and not be thinking it makes sense to pit British Columbians against Albertans when there’s a solution that helps both economies.”

Wall said that the next step for Bill C-48 is how it fares in the full Senate, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long stressed needs to be independent of party politics.

“Remember, the prime minister said he wanted to appoint ‘independent senators,’ and not require them to ‘toe the party line,’” Wall said.

“We’re going to find out now, as the bill goes to the full Senate, how independent these senators are.”