The Brief­ing

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says the North­ern Gate­way de­ci­sion was made in the best in­ter­est of nearby com­mu­ni­ties. But if 31 First Na­tions and Métis groups lose out, was it re­ally?

Alberta Venture - - Contents - CPI­mag es Jenn Men­tanko

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>>> Novem­ber 29 was a big day for Al­berta’s oil and gas in­dus­try. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau an­nounced the ap­proval of two ma­jor pipe­lines: En­bridge’s Line 3 and Kin­der Mor­gan’s Trans Moun­tain Ex­pan­sion. The $6.8-bil­lion Trans Moun­tain project will nearly triple its crude oil ca­pac­ity to 890,000 bar­rels a day, while the Line 3 re­place­ment will dou­ble its out­put to 760,000 bar­rels a day.

But not all ap­pli­ca­tions got the go-ahead. Trudeau struck down the much-con­tested North­ern Gate­way pipe­line, which was lit­tle sur­prise to many. The project saw ma­jor push­back from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, First Na­tions and key po­lit­i­cal fig­ures like Van­cou­ver Mayor Gre­gor Robert­son and NDP Leader Thomas Mul­cair, who said, “al­low­ing su­per­tankers into the Dou­glas Chan­nel would be mad­ness, and a spill would be cat­a­strophic to the econ­omy of the en­tire re­gion.” In Trudeau’s com­ments, he con­sid­ered the pipe­line’s route through the Great Bear Rain­for­est and the Dou­glas Chan­nel and said the project “is not in the best in­ter­ests of lo­cal af­fected com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing in­dige­nous peo­ples.”

A day af­ter the an­nounce­ment, En­bridge CEO Al Monaco re­ceived the Al­berta Busi­ness Per­son of the Year award. In his ac­cep­tance speech, Monaco took a very dif­fer­ent stance on the de­ci­sion’s im­pact, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing a missed op­por­tu­nity for in­dige­nous Cana­di­ans. “They’ve been sig­nal­ing that for a while, so we’re not sur­prised,” Monaco said of the fed­eral de­ci­sion, “al­though it’s un­for­tu­nate Canada has missed this op­por­tu­nity to have a na­tion­build­ing project one-third owned by First Na­tions and Métis.”

The voice that was sel­dom heard in the North­ern Gate­way ca­coph­ony – and which is sel­dom heard in de­vel­op­ment projects across the coun­try and the con­ti­nent – is the voice of in­dige­nous peo­ple who favour a par­tic­u­lar de­vel­op­ment. Had North­ern Gate­way been built, an un­prece­dented one-third of it would have been owned by a group of 31 First Na­tions and Métis com­mu­ni­ties through the Abo­rig­i­nal Eq­uity Part­ners, rep­re­sent­ing about 60 per cent of abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties along the route. Its loss will come as an eco­nomic blow to them. The AEP re­sponded to the an­nounce­ment with frus­tra­tion that the prime min­is­ter, “who cam­paigned on a prom­ise of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties would now bla­tantly choose to deny our 31 First Na­tions and Métis com­mu­ni­ties of our con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected right to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

It’s time to re­write the nar­ra­tive that all First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties are rife with hos­til­ity to­wards pipe­line and other in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ments, when 10 years of con­sul­ta­tion be­tween En­bridge and in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties re­sulted in an agree­ment that would have brought $2 bil­lion in long-term eco­nomic and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, with a 33 per cent own­er­ship share and con­trol of a key piece of Canada’s in­fra­struc­ture. –

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau an­nounces his gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sions re­gard­ing three pipe­lines - two got the thumbs up

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