Trudeau pleased tensions ease at B.C. protest site
KAMLOOPS Arrests at a blockade this week show the government needs to properly engage with Indigenous Peoples and build a different relationship than it has had in the past, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Trudeau said he was pleased to see tensions had eased between police and First Nations outside a construction zone for a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.
“I know that there will be questions asked and required to answer over the coming weeks about what exactly was done, what could have been done differently,” he said at Thompson Rivers University’s industrial training and technology centre.
It’s time to figure out how to make sure there is proper engagement with more respect when projects are built, something governments haven’t done in the past, Trudeau said.
“I think we can all agree that is the way we need to move forward as a country, in a more respectful, more thoughtful, more engaged way. There are going to be moments when that doesn’t work out as well as it should and we’ll need to learn from those moments.
“But there is no question that the goodwill that is shared by all Canadians who want to see better respect and partnership with Indigenous Peoples, while at the same time we make sure we are continuing to grow the economy.”
The RCMP and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation met in Smithers, B.C., on Thursday to work on details of an agreement reached a day earlier that would allow access to crews from Coastal Gaslink to work in the area that was behind the blockade.
The company says it has signed agreements with all the First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en, but non-elected hereditary chiefs in one house of the five Wet’suwet’en clans oppose the pipeline.
The pipeline would run through the territory to Kitimat, B.C., where LNG Canada is building a $40-billion export facility.
Trudeau said he “deeply respects” the concerns and the issues brought forward by a people on both sides of the debate.
“The way we are doing resource development, construction, exporting of our resources is changing in this country,” he said.
“We know we cannot do it without creating partnerships and engaging with Indigenous Peoples who are the traditional custodians of these lands, without thinking deeply about the environmental consequences and the long-term impacts of the choices we’re making.”
At a town hall meeting in Kamloops on Wednesday night, Trudeau was interrupted and shouted down by some Indigenous people in the crowd who were angry over the arrests of 14 people on Monday.
Trudeau said Thursday that Canada is a country where people are encouraged to speak out and share their opinions, but also to listen to one another respectfully.
“If someone disagrees with what I’m doing or has questions about where we’re going, I want to be able to hear from them,” he said.
Trudeau also visited a seniors centre Thursday in Kamloops where he sat and chatted with people and posed for pictures.
VANCOUVER The National Energy Board would require the creation of a marine mammal protection program for the Trans Mountain pipeline in a series of draft conditions it has laid out before it considers the project.
The focus of the review is to apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act to project-related marine shipping, the board says in the document.
The conditions mitigate potential risks to the environment and protect the public, it says.
Releasing these draft conditions and recommendations is not an indication of the board’s forthcoming recommendation to the federal government to either approve or deny the project, it says.
The board, which has to have its final recommendations in by Feb. 22, also recommends a number of measures be taken to offset the increased underwater noise and potential risk posed by ship strikes of marine mammals including southern resident killer whales.
Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the transportation minister, had said earlier the southern resident killer whale is a vital part of Canada’s local marine ecosystem.
“The survival of this iconic species is a priority of our government and indeed a priority for all Canadians,” he said.
The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the government’s approval of the project in August, citing the energy board’s failure to examine impacts on the ocean ecosystem, including B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales. It also found Canada failed to meaningfully consult with First Nations during the final phase of discussions.
The board is also looking to limit the number of whale watching boats and the amount of time they spend on the water.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which purchased the pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion, ordered the energy board to review the project’s marine shipping effects within 155 days.
Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Thursday the draft recommendations and conditions are an “important step towards meeting the reasonable timeline that we provided, and the type of progress that Canadians expect to see.”
“The National Energy Board is an independent regulator and is responsible for overseeing the review on marine shipping,” he said. “We will carefully review them and provide comment, as necessary.”
The board is seeking comment on its draft conditions. Trans Mountain could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Trans Mountain marine protection plan should be in place three months before it starts operations and should describe how it will incorporate Indigenous traditions and knowledge in developing its programs, the board says.
The federal government should review and update its marine shipping oil spill response requirements and look at including Indigenous Peoples and local communities in response planning, it recommends.
The pipeline expansion would triple the amount of oil being carried from the Edmonton area to a marine shipping terminal in Burnaby, increasing the number of tankers in Metro Vancouver waters sevenfold.
It also would like to see a regulator framework for making enhanced tug escort mandatory in the Salish Sea for oil tankers.
The federal government should implement a marine bird monitoring program to better understand impacts of vessel use on avian wildlife including species at risk, it says.
Greenhouse gas reduction measures related to marine shipping should be accelerated and implemented, the board recommends.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a town hall Q&A at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops on Wednesday.