Ottawa launches consultations on Indigenous ownership of Trans Mountain pipeline

Ottawa launches consultations on Indigenous ownership of Trans Mountain pipeline

CALGARY – Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the federal government is launching a new set of consultations with Indigenous groups that will determine if and how they might take part in ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion project.

Speaking in Calgary, the minister says up to 129 communities will be consulted over the next weeks and months to ensure they have a chance for “meaningful economic participation” in the pipeline.

He says the groups will be asked their level of support for equity-based or revenue-sharing options, as well as whether groups are willing to work with each other through existing or new organizations.

In a speech, the minister welcomed a Federal Court of Appeal ruling last week that set aside a challenge of the Trans Mountain expansion project by four B.C. First Nations, noting the project is important to the economic well-being of the West.

The court found that the government had met its duty to consult, thus endorsing its response to an earlier ruling that had stalled the pipeline and clearing one of the last major hurdles for construction to continue on the conduit from the Alberta oilsands and refining hub in Edmonton to the B.C. coast.

Morneau says the federal government will earn a profit when it sells Trans Mountain, despite a new construction cost estimate made last week of $12.6 billion, an increase of 70 per cent over the previous forecast of $7.4 billion.

“We believe this new estimate is realistic and we remain confident that when it’s the appropriate time to sell, we will see a profit on this investment,” Morneau said.

The government expects to earn $500 million a year in taxes from Trans Mountain after it begins operating, he added. SOURCE

‘What cost are human rights worth?’ UN calls for immediate RCMP withdrawal in Wet’suwet’en standoff

Experts say the world is watching to see if Canada heeds a call from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until ‘free, prior and informed consent’ is obtained from Indigenous peoples

Wet'suwet'en Coastal GasLink January 2019 Barricade

Police climb over a barricade to enforce the injunction filed by Coastal GasLink pipeline at the Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston, British Columbia on Monday, January 7, 2019. The pipeline company was given a permit but the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which has jurisdiction over the territory in question, has never given consent. Fourteen people were arrested. Photo: Amber Bracken

1990, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was at a Lil’wat Nation blockade to stop clear-cut logging and the expropriation of Mount Currie reserve land when he got a taste of how far governments in Canada are willing to go to prevent Indigenous people from protecting their lands.

“The sniper team came in in two Suburbans and went up onto the hillside and one of the Lil’wat Mount Currey band members came riding across the creek on his horse, quite panicked and warning us that there was a sniper team being deployed in the trees,” Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told The Narwhal.

“We had witnessed the Suburbans coming in, but he actually saw the sniper team disembark and take up positions,” Phillip recalled. “I know that to be a standard tactic on the part of the RCMP.”

As tensions escalate in the stand-off between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink — with the company posting a 72-hour injunction notice allowing the RCMP to arrest anyone blocking access to its work site as early as Friday — Phillip said there’s “an urgency” for Canada to heed a call from the United Nations and immediately halt pipeline construction on Wet’suwet’en lands and territories.

“It’s a precarious situation,” Phillip said, pointing to a recent article in The Guardian disclosing the RCMP was prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders in the dispute over construction of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline to ship fracked gas to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat.

LNG Canada project, Kitimat B.C. 2017

The site of the LNG Canada project in Kitimat B.C. in 2017. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

UN says projects need ‘free, prior and informed’ consent

In a move Phillip called a “significant development,” the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a triple-barrelled decision calling on Canada to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from Indigenous peoples.

The committee urged Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en peoples who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Secwepemc peoples opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons —  notably by the RCMP — against Indigenous peoples and to guarantee no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP, along with associated security and policing services, from traditional lands.

In a two-page decision statement, the committee said it is alarmed by the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. and disturbed by the “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against Indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects” on their traditional territories.

Coastal Gaslink Pipeline RCMP Gidimt'en arrest

Police make an arrest January 2019 while enforcing the injunction filed by Coastal GasLink at the Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston, B.C. Photo: Amber Bracken

“It’s somewhat frustrating and embarrassing that the UN has to chide the government of Canada and the provincial government with respect to what the rule of law is in this country in regard to Indigenous land rights, Indigenous human rights,” Phillip said.

“I think it’s a reflection of the ongoing arrogance of the Trudeau government, that somehow the Trudeau government feels it’s above the law and can just simply flout the law.”

As word of the UN decision spread, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage called the United Nations an “unelected, unaccountable” body that has no business criticizing Canada’s energy megaprojects.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the country’s largest oil and gas lobby group, issued a press release saying the UN committee’s two-page decision statement “reflects an embarrassing ignorance of Canadian law.”

‘If we think back to the Holocaust, all of that was legal under German law’

But Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said the whole point of the 18-member committee is that it’s comprised of unelected human rights experts appointed by UN member states.

“We want them to be there as objective, non-partisan, non-political experts who are going to look very closely at the situations that are brought to their attention, such as these three serious human rights concerns from Canada, and make the right assessments and make the right decisions entirely free from political influence,” Neve said in an interview.

Indigenous rights scholars point out the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination — whose implementation is monitored by the committee — holds signatories, including Canada, accountable to international human rights law.

They also note that the United Nations, with its overarching focus on human rights, was created in the wake of the Holocaust and other atrocities to ensure increased global scrutiny of human rights in individual countries, and that Canada championed the convention and was one of the first nations to sign on.

” … the process that was followed in Canada is failing … “

University of Manitoba law professor Brenda Gunn said Canadian law should not be used to try to protect or excuse actions cited by the UN committee.

“If we think back to the Holocaust, all of that was legal under German law. What this system is designed to do is to have people outside the state judging standards against something other than domestic law, to ensure that domestic law isn’t violating rights,” said Gunn, a Metis lawyer who provided technical assistance to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People with regards to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“What this committee is saying is that the process that was followed in Canada is failing to uphold Canada’s international human rights [obligations]. You wouldn’t expect this person to need to know Canadian law. All they need to know is the facts of what happened and compare that to their expertise of what is required under international law.”

Potential for ‘deep stain on Canada’s global reputation’

UBC professor Sheryl Lightfoot, a Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, said the UN committee is pointing out that Canada’s law, policy and practice for consultation with Indigenous communities do not meet global human rights standards.

Canada has reported to the UN committee “regularly, routinely and enthusiastically” since 1970, the year after the convention was entered into force, noted Lightfoot, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe who is senior advisor to the UBC president on Indigenous affairs.

“The one area that Canada stumbles on is once the CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] casts its eye on Indigenous peoples’ human rights,” Lightfoot said in an interview.

“Canada is normally held up as a role model standard on this particular issue of eliminating racial discrimination.

This is one of the few times, and the notable times, where Canada is on the receiving end of negative news.”

The UN committee decision comes as Canada vies for a coveted seat on the UN Security Council, a bid Gunn said will fall under increased global scrutiny if Canada fails to follow the committee’s recommendations.

“While we may not hear public chastising of Canada in any international forum, there will be many conversations happening in the various lounges at the UN, and elsewhere, where states that Canada was counting on for support will be saying ‘well, what about this recent decision … how do we support a seat on the security council when Canada’s record on human rights continues to be questioned?’ ”

Lightfoot said a lack of action could  “create a deep stain on Canada’s global reputation.”

The committee decision follows landmark legislation passed by the B.C. government in November to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). The federal government has also promised to pass legislation to harmonize Canadian laws with UNDRIP by the end of this year.

Roland Willson, chief of West Moberly First Nations, called the decision a “validation for us.”

West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation are awaiting trial dates to determine if the Site C dam unjustifiably infringes on their constitutionally protected treaty rights, as the nations claim in civil actions filed two years ago.

Among many other impacts, the Site C hydro project will destroy Indigenous burial sites and other places of spiritual and cultural importance — including traditional hunting and fishing grounds — and poison fish with methylmercury.

West Moberly Chief Roland Willson

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson has been a vocal opponent of the Site C dam. Photo: Jayce Hawkins / The Narwhal

Site C dam called ‘cultural genocide’

Willson said West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations met with Gay McDougall, a U.S. lawyer who is the vice-chair of the UN committee, last year in Vancouver

“It’s not mass genocide that’s happening here. It’s cultural genocide,” Willson told The Narwhal.

“Ms. McDougall said to us, ‘Genocide is genocide. They’re destroying your culture and your culture is who you are as a people. So they’re killing you as a people’ … Our discussion with her verified that we’re right.”

Willson called it a “crime” to destroy the last tract of Peace River Valley available to Indigenous people to engage in traditional practices when there are cheaper and less destructive ways to produce power.

 “…The thought of [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump threatening to destroy Iran’s cultural sites, everybody’s up in arms about that, saying that should be considered war crimes,” Willson said.

“Well here they’re making a decision to destroy what’s left of an intact ecosystem, a vital piece of our culture.”

Article 32 of UNDRIP says governments “shall consult and cooperate in good faith” with Indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions, in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of “any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources” — particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

Site C construction. Peace River. B.C.

Construction of the Site C dam on the banks of the Peace River. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

In a 2019 letter to the UN committee, a copy of which was obtained by The Narwhal, the federal government said it approached the Site C project “in a manner that is consistent” with obtaining free, prior and informed consent, a claim Willson called “hogwash.”

Willson said the federal government only met once with West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations about the Site C dam, for about 20 minutes.

The meeting, with former Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, took place in Vancouver several months after the election of the Trudeau government in the fall of 2015, Willson said, describing the session as “our one avenue to talk about everything.”

Nations ‘conceded’ instead of consenting

“Conceding is far from consenting,” Willson said. “Every nation in Treaty 8 was opposed to Site C.”

But after the project — championed for decades by BC Hydro — received final B.C. government approval in December 2014, “some of the nations conceded to BC Hydro,” Willson said.

“Their decision was not free,” he said. “It wasn’t prior. It was after the fact.”

A letter Willson sent to the UN committee two months ago said many affected Indigenous peoples have not consented to construction of the Site C project, including Blueberry River First Nation, Prophet River First Nation and Fort Nelson First Nation.

“Not a single Indigenous group supported Site C before Canada had issued all major approvals, and some groups that signed an agreement on the project afterwards stated publicly that they had never consented,” Willson wrote.

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark infamously vowed she would push the Site C project past the point of no return, the letter noted.

“There was never any intent by Canada or British Columbia to consider alternatives offered by Indigenous peoples,” Willson told the committee.

The chief also questioned the notion that First Nations were given “informed” details about the Site C project.

“Bogus estimates about future energy demand were used during consultations by the Province of British Columbia and BC Hydro to manufacture a need for the dam and to disregard less impactful alternatives such as wind and solar,” he said.

“These estimates have now been debunked by the B.C. Utilities Commission, British Columbia’s own independent utilities regulator.”

‘What cost are human rights worth?’

Asked about the economic cost of suspending the three projects, Lightfoot said, “what cost are human rights worth?”

“That’s the question for Canada,” she said. “The CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] is trying to bring to Canada’s attention that when dealing with human rights you have to consider all people’s human rights and consider them equally.”

Gunn said major resource projects like the Site C dam and the TransMountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines will continue to experience delays and court challenges until Canada does a better job of engaging and working with Indigenous peoples. The current situation doesn’t lead to greater certainty for anyone, she pointed out.

“It just leads to more divisions and more problems.”

Neve said the UN committee has made it clear on a number of occasions it is deeply concerned that industrial projects such as the Site C dam and Coastal GasLink pipeline are proceeding in ways that violate the rights of Indigenous people.

“It is unconscionable for Canada to just shrug our shoulders and ignore that,” Neve said. “It’s time to do what the UN is asking us to do.”

It’s not the first time the UN committee has called on Canada to suspend the Site C project, which would flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries in the heart of Treaty 8 traditional territory if the dam is completed in 2024 as scheduled.

In September 2017, the committee recommended that Canada immediately suspend all permits and approvals for the publicly funded $10.7 billion project, which will produce an average of 680 megawatts of electricity.

The committee also advised Canada to end “the substitution of costly legal challenges as post facto recourse in place of obtaining meaningful free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.”

The UN committee issued a second rejoinder in December 2019 when it again cited a “lack of measures taken to ensure the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent” for the Site C dam. It warned that construction without such consent would infringe on Indigenous peoples’ rights protected under the international convention.

The Narwhal reached out to Global Affairs Canada for a response to the UN committee’s decision. Global Affairs Canada — whose email signature touts Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat  — put us in touch with Heritage Canada.

Heritage Canada said it hoped to have a response for January 8, but no response was received by publication time.

Phillip said the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs will request a meeting with federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett to discuss the decision.

“We’ll be speaking not only to the government of Canada but also to the provincial government and Premier [John] Horgan with regard to the CERD [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] report and its implications vis a vis Bill 41,” Phillip said.

He said the union doesn’t accept the notion that Bill 41, B.C.’s new UNDRIP legislation, will only apply to new resource projects.

“We don’t buy that. The law is the law.” SOURCE


Wet’suwet’en threatened with eviction from their territory

The situation is escalating in Wet’suwet’en unceded territory in northern British Columbia this week as they face eviction by the RCMP if they do not remove any obstacles that would prevent workers from getting to construction sites for a Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The Wet’suwet’en need you to act in solidarity with their defense of traditional territory in the face of development projects that have not received the free, prior and informed consent of their people.

ACT NOW in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en: 

1. Sign our partner RavenTrust’s letter to Coastal GasLink reminding the executives of the rights of Indigenous Peoples that are to be respected, and urging them to respect the eviction order from the Hereditary Chiefs.

2. Visit the Wet’suwet’en Supporter page and take action to support the land defense. There is plenty of information on how to visit the camp, fundraise, write letters to law-makers, and resources for education and solidarity work with your neighbours.

In December 2019, The UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination recognized that Canada did not obtain the consent needed to begin construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Committee instructed Canada to immediately halt construction and suspend all permits and approvals for the project, and urged Canada to withdraw RCMP and security and policing forces from the traditional territories.

Nevertheless, on December 31, 2019 a BC Supreme Court judge extended an injunction against the Wet’suwet’en, saying construction of the natural gas pipeline has been harmed by their defense camps. The hereditary Chiefs reject the Court’s decision based on their inherent, constitutional and human rights to govern their traditional territory under their own governance and legal systems and have once again ordered Coastal GasLink off their lands.

Thank you for speaking out today in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.

Image result for logo amnesty internationalIn solidarity,

Ana Nicole Collins
Indigenous Rights Advisor
Amnesty International Canada

 

 

Trudeau’s Climate Change Math Is Incomplete

Emissions from Canada exports have tripled since 1992’s UN pact. But who’s counting?

TrudeauClimatePlan.jpg
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiling his climate plan in 2016. It fails to account for the global impact of fossil fuels shipped outside our borders.

Throughout the recent federal election — and for months before — Canada’s prime minister repeatedly asserted, “We need returns from a pipeline to pay for green energy.”

The gut sense of anyone worried about climate change is that this proposition is wrong. Why would we build a pipeline to convey and then burn fossil fuels, as a way to — get this — avoid burning fossil fuels? The logic seems twisted.

The deeper question of concern to me is whether Trudeau’s position is a political calculation, or one based on some form of economics?

By political calculation, I don’t mean an attempt to appease western voters; that clearly has failed. Rather, is Canada playing a high stakes political game that exploits a weakness in international carbon accounting to shift blame on to other countries. Let me explain…

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada has agreed to “protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind.”

Under the UN Convention, developed countries are required to report their greenhouse gas emissions every year. They only account, however, for emissions physically occurring within their national boundaries.

This means that Canada does not count more than 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide that comes from others burning our fossil fuel exports each year. This amount far exceeds our own territorial emissions that are just over 700 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

Canada completely washes its hands of any responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions that result from our massive fossil fuel exports. Yet, we know full well that the impacts of carbon emissions are shared globally. To put it crudely: not only are we screwing future generations ourselves, we are aiding and abetting other countries in doing so too.

Since Canada committed to the UN Convention on Climate Change in 1992, our territorial carbon emissions have gone up by an embarrassing 17 per cent. But this is nothing compared to the emissions from our fossil fuel exports that have almost tripled!

851px version of CarbonEmissionsChart.png

Since Canada committed to the UN Convention on Climate Change in 1992, emissions from our fossil fuel exports have nearly tripled. Chart via Chris Kennedy

An even greater problem with Canada’s massive oil and gas sector is that it undermines our ability to transform to a low-carbon economy by crowding out other potential forms of capital. Building new pipelines hinders a potential green economy because it uses resources that we need to construct further renewable energy supplies, renovate our building stock and electrify transportation.

The $4.5-billion-dollar Trans Mountain pipeline has been the key battleground between Canadians who care about climate change and those who pretend to. It may become the defining issue that describes Trudeau’s legacy in history books.

But the Trans Mountain pipeline is just a drop in the bucket. Canada’s oil and gas industry has grown so massive that it now has over $500 billion of assets. This is more than 20 per cent of Canada’s capital stock, excluding residential homes.

And here’s the kicker. Any plan to seriously address Canada’s carbon emissions needs to give up on these fossil fuel assets — and construct a new green capital base.

Writing off the old Trans Mountain pipeline would be a historic first step to Canada’s prosperous low-carbon future. SOURCE

Singh says Prairie premiers ‘distracting’ from real issues, need to ‘do better’

Jagmeet Singh
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to reporters following a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says that clearly “people are feeling neglected” by Ottawa, but that the way the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are going about raising those concerns are “distracting” from the “real” problems.

In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period, Singh said that the issues and pressures Albertans and Saskatchewanians are facing are real, but are being felt in “many provinces.”

While discussing what his priorities will be for the new Parliament, including more action on climate change, Singh was asked about the ongoing conversation around western alienation and the requests being made by Premiers Jason Kenney and Scott Moe and what the NDP caucus’ response would be to the Liberals moving ahead with targeted measures for that region of the country.

“I want to see commitments at the federal level to help out those folks,” Singh said during a wide-ranging interview in which the NDP Leader also spoke about the intersection of his personal and spiritual beliefs, and why propping up the Liberal minority may be dependent on the promises in the throne speech.

“People are feeling neglected and ignored by Ottawa,” Singh said. “What Conservative premiers are doing is distracting from the real problem.”

He cited the health care and education systems, and the challenge in finding jobs as examples of the “real” issues.

Singh—who has just one elected MP in Alberta and none in Saskatchewan— opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline project that many in Alberta view as integral to their economic stability, and supports tougher environmental regulations.

As CTV Edmonton reported last week, Kenney announced that he would be creating a “Fair Deal Panel” to look into ending several arrangements with the federal government, including opting out of federal cost-share programs like a proposed pharmacare plan that Singh is a vocal proponent of; and enacting a system in which schools need provincial signoff before entering into federal government agreements.

In the interview Singh suggested that Alberta has to diversify its economy instead of doubling down on oil and gas. The Kenney government has previously said that becoming less dependent on oil and gas is a long-term initiative, though there have been steps taken.

“They need to do better,” Singh said.

“They need to be an economy that’s not subject to the whims of one commodity that might go up and down in price and that could completely upturn their economy,” Singh said. “What they need to do is this: They need to be committed to job creation, they need to be committed to making sure they have a diverse economy that creates real opportunities that aren’t subject to the global whims of a market that can go volatile up and down.”

Singh said he is open to looking at the equalization formula to make sure that it’s still working and fair.

“The future we know is a future where we’re fighting the climate crisis while creating jobs. There has to be a path that’s laid out where we show workers that there is a path to create jobs… that’s what people need to see and to hear and to feel, so that they’re not worried about their future,” Singh said.

SINGH WANTS ‘CONCRETE’ LANGUAGE IN THRONE SPEECH

In addition to action on climate change and job creation, Singh said that he wants to see “timelines” and “some real concrete commitments” for pharmacare and dental care in next month’s Liberal throne speech, otherwise he is prepared to vote against it.

“I want something concrete,” Singh said, downplaying questions of whether he is over exaggerating the bargaining position he will have in forth-party status, given the Bloc Quebecois’ indicated intention to work collaboratively with the Liberals so long as they stay out of provincial secularism matters.

Singh said it’s different to have the support of an NDP caucus that he says will be “fighting actively” for improvements to Liberal initiatives than the backing of a party that would just “not get in the way.”

“The Liberals can work with other people, there’s no question about it. The difference is that we’re actually fighting for things that Canadians want,” Singh said.

SAYS PERSONAL, SPIRITUAL BELIEFS ALIGNED

In light of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer being asked about his personal and religious views on social issues like same-sex marriage, Singh was asked whether as a Sikh he believes that being gay is a sin.

“No.”

He was asked whether he supported same-sex marriage.

“Yes.. I support it all the way.”

And does he support the right of women to access abortion?

“Yes, absolutely, without any question.”

Singh said that his personal and religious beliefs are “completely aligned.”

“My beliefs spiritually are fully in line with supporting same-sex marriage, supporting a woman’s right to choose. I have no, any sort of ambiguity with my personal, spiritual beliefs,” Singh said.

Asked whether it was appropriate for these kinds of questions to be asked of federal leaders, Singh said that he thinks it gives people confidence in his stance.

“In my case, people can be very confident that both my spiritual, my personal, my beliefs as a leader are all in line with my values, which are to support a woman’s right to choose, which is to support same-sex marriage, which is to fight for equality and fairness for Canadians, so people can have that confidence with me.”

SOURCE

Andrew Weaver to Jason Kenney: ‘Every day you keep opening your mouth, more people come to the B.C. Greens’

B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver (Image: David J. Climenhaga)
Image: David J. Climenhaga

When it comes to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is not a fan.

This will not come as a complete surprise to anyone who follows either Alberta or British Columbia politics. Weaver, after all, is the leader of the B.C. Greens. He is also a PhD climate scientist. In some circles, either of those factoids might be enough to make folks conclude they are natural enemies.

Just the same, when it comes to Premier Kenney, Weaver is scathing. “He’s just a bully,” he said dismissively in his office in the provincial legislative building in Victoria last week. “He’s a bombastic bully that I think is looking out for his own interests and not for the interests of Albertans or, frankly, broader Canadians.”

“I find him very confrontational. He’s not somebody that I personally think I can trust. Those are my views.”

Weaver compares Kenney’s vision unfavourably to that of Peter Lougheed — “an esteemed statesperson who … recognized that the wise approach to policy development would be to ensure that you put something aside in the good times.” Or Rachel Notley’s — “she was trying to navigate a very difficult situation whereby there are still a large number of Albertans who believe, and I would say foolishly, that their prosperity lies in extracting bitumen from the tar sands.”

A more apt comparison might be the leadership provided by Ralph Klein, Weaver suggests. “We start giving out Klein Bucks, frittering this away, and we now have a situation where there’s nothing left of the Alberta Heritage Fund.”

Anyway, Weaver continued, Kenney “wants to be prime minister of our country, and this is his pathway there. I think he’s actually taking Albertans back in time, which ultimately will not help them economically.”

The Green leader’s assessment of the future of a petroleum-dependent Alberta is bleak: “Kinder Morgan Canada’s now divested itself. … Statoil’s gone. Total’s gone. Shell’s out. Where do I end?

“We know that the Alberta oil sands (require) some of the most expensive ways of getting oil out of the ground. We know that you must mix it with diluent to make it flow in pipes. We know that everybody in the world has discovered horizontal drilling technology, and we know, for example, that the Trans Mountain pipeline was going to be approved to create a means to get Alberta diluted bitumen to the California refineries, but with the onset of horizontal fracking and the huge reserves in the Bakken shale, that market’s dried up.

“So we have no market left for the Alberta diluted bitumen. And for (Kenney) to suggest that we have to somehow get it to tidewater for economic growth …” Uncharacteristically, Weaver momentarily runs out of words. He shakes his head.

“The fact that Kenney continues to think that there is prosperity in this direction is fiscally foolish. I would think a good Conservative government would recognize that conservative fiscal policy plans ahead. It doesn’t try to continue down this path of race-for-the-bottom economics where we essentially eliminate royalties for our Crown resource, where we basically give subsidies and tax credits to these multinationals — who are looking out for their shareholders, not necessarily for the people here.” MORE

Oilpatch fires ‘warning shot’ at Trudeau Liberals in Ontario with ‘unprecedented’ ground campaign


Conservative Party of Canada staffers are seen holding banners for a picture at a rally organized by partly organized by Canada’s Energy Citizens, in support of the Transmountain Expansion Pipeline, on May 23rd, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Canada’s largest oil and gas lobby group ran a political ground war that targeted voters in 13 Ontario “Liberal swing ridings” with billboards in “high visibility locations” in the Toronto area and 400,000 pieces of pro-pipeline literature sent via Canada Post, an ongoing National Observer Toronto Star Global Newsinvestigation has found.

The details of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ campaign appear in a flyer distributed at a government-sponsored summit in Vaughan, near Toronto, where the association had a booth. The flyer explained how the lobby group had engaged in a “ground campaign in Ontario targeting 13 Liberal swing ridings” between April 8 to May 29 — the period in which the federal government was deciding on the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

CAPP’s campaign included 13 rallies across the country, billboards, a huge social media push and mailing hundreds of thousands of letters warning the public about their struggle to compete and gain access to new oil and gas markets, the flyer said. The Calgary-based group also sent 24,000 letters to “key decision makers” including B.C. Premier John Horgan, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and federal National Resources Minister Jim Carr, according to the leaked CAPP document.

The oilpatch lobby group declined to identify where the rallies took place and which ridings it targeted, but its branding and logos appeared at multiple rallies across the country last spring, including at least one rally featuring Conservative MPs in Ottawa. CAPP said that it promoted this Ottawa rally, held on May 23, but didn’t organize it.

The political implications of the campaign has prompted at least one political insider to call it “a warning shot” from one of Canada’s largest and most powerful lobby groups for the upcoming federal election.

An example of the messaging in the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s campaign in Ontario in April and May 2018. Image courtesy of CAPP

‘I’ve never seen the oil industry lobby like this before’

Critics also say CAPP’s conspicuously-timed advertising – launched amid Ontario’s provincial election campaign and targeting 13 ridings in Ontario alone – is unprecedented and merits further review from the provincial elections watchdog.

The advertising material urges Canadians to “tell your federal MP to support the Trans Mountain Pipeline” alongside the message, “Is Canada closed for business?” MORE

 

Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Approving a pipeline while declaring a climate emergency is ‘climate change denial with a human face.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
‘This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future.’ Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

The Trudeau government’s recent actions — declaring a climate emergency and re-approving the Trans Mountain expansion project within two days — aren’t just hypocritical: they’re morally equivalent to climate change denial.

The United Nation’s authority on climate change recently recommended“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to counter an imminent crisis, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decisions have flagrantly ignored the UN’s counsel.

He’s bent over backwards to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline’s expansion, propping up the project with extensive financial and rhetorical support. In the process, the Trudeau government has perpetuated the prerogatives of an industry that has funded climate change denying research and (knowingly) pollutes the planet.

Make no mistake: Trudeau’s actions represent climate change denial “with a human face,” a darker version of Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček’s 1968 description of his ill-fated liberalization program as “socialism with a human face.”

Trudeau and the Liberal party affirm the reality of global warming in theory, but they effectively deny the phenomenon in practice by facilitating a harmful status quo and belittling the urgency of radical change.

This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future: a mixture of symbolic proclamation and strategically inadequate policy.

With flooding, suffocating wildfires and abnormal temperatures across much of the country, the climate crisis isn’t just a theoretical concern for most Canadians. Global warming’s impacts are now apparent, a fact that’s reflected in a recent poll showing that over two-thirds of Canadians consider stopping climate change “a priority.” MORE

Court says B.C. can’t restrict oil shipments in key case for Trans Mountain

 


A security guard stands nearby construction workers at the Kinder Morgan Burnaby Terminal tank farm, the terminus point of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

A court has ruled that British Columbia cannot restrict oil shipments through its borders in a decision that marks a win for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Alberta’s efforts to get its resources to overseas markets.

The province filed a constitutional reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen.

A five-judge panel agreed unanimously that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

B.C. argued that the proposed amendments were meant to protect its environment from a hazardous substance, while the federal government and Alberta said the goal was to block Trans Mountain. MORE

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B.C. to appeal top court ruling it can’t regulate flow of bitumen through Trans Mountain pipeline

 

First Nations leaders at odds over potential pipeline ownership

Is the Trudeau government cynically trying to pass over liability to First Nations?

‘The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,’ says Judy Wilson


Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain expansion project at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

An Indigenous group is urging other First Nations to not invest in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, arguing it is not a sound investment.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has penned an open letter to some leaders who are exploring the idea of partial ownership in the project.

It warns of potential financial risks tied to the proposed pipeline expansion if it gets the ultimate green light from Ottawa.

“The bottom line is that there is no certainty in this investment,” said Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer with the UBCIC. She co-signed the letter with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“A lot of the communities may not have the full financial information and a lot of things they should know if they are going to be investing.”

Chief Judy Wilson with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says that she chooses the health of the southern resident killer whales over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

The letter outlines concerns around ballooning constructions costs of the project, citing total cost estimates upwards of $15 billion.

“When people start doing the actual number crunching they’ll see there’s no real return,” said Wilson, referencing last year’s buy-out by the federal government. MORE

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Letter: Trans Mountain poses significant financial risks for First Nations

Trans Mountain consultation approach ‘fatally flawed’ even with extension, says First Nations leader

The Trudeau government is in a clear conflict of interest as owners of the TransMountain pipeline and their duty to consult with the traditional legitimate title holders. Expect litigation and more delay.

‘Extending the timeline doesn’t address all these issues and approach to consultation,’ says Judy Wilson


Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, elected leader of the Neskonlith band and a member of the executive branch of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau critical of the consultation process on the Trans Mountain pipeline. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Even if the time period for consultation with Indigenous groups over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is extended by a few weeks, “it still doesn’t make up for the approach and the flawed way the consultations are being done,” says one B.C. First Nations leader.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, elected leader of the Neskonlith band and a member of the executive branch of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week in which she described the consultation process as “fatally flawed” and detailed several critiques of the process that’s currently underway.

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, announced Thursday the consultation timeframe would be extended by a month, based on requests from Indigenous groups and advice from former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci who is leading the government’s efforts on consultation for the proposed expansion.

“Extending the timeline doesn’t address all these issues and approach to consultation,” said Wilson.

Among her criticisms is that Canada is in a “clear conflict-of-interest” when it comes to fulfilling its obligations to Indigenous groups, especially since it purchased the project from Kinder Morgan.

“As pipeline owners, they have a constant bias now because they’re looking at the interest of the pipeline as a national interest versus their Crown role for consultation to our Indigenous Peoples,” said Wilson in an interview Thursday.

She is also critical of the consultation process itself, because “it’s still bypassing our proper title holders, who are our people … they’re relying mainly on the band construct, which the federal government created,” she said.

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