Prentice issues energy warning [failed Aboriginal consultations] – Shawn McCarthy and Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – September 28, 2012)posted in Aboriginal Mining, Canadian/International Media Resource Articles, Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image |
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
OTTAWA and CALGARY — A prominent former minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet has slammed Ottawa for failing to meet its constitutional obligations to consult first nations on West Coast pipelines, saying the government needs to move quickly to rescue projects that are essential to the country’s future prosperity.
In a speech delivered Thursday at the University of Calgary, CIBC vice-chairman Jim Prentice – who held several senior posts in the Conservative government, and is an expert on aboriginal law – delivered a scathing critique of complacency and short-sightedness in both the government and oil industry for failing to prepare more aggressively for the “seismic shift” under way in the global energy sector.
“The Crown obligation to engage first nations in a meaningful way has yet to be taken up,” he said in that speech.
A failure to consult with aboriginal bands is not merely a political misstep: It could have dire legal repercussions for the proponents of pipelines through British Columbia. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has a duty to consult with aboriginal communities over developments that would impact their traditional land, and to accommodate their concerns. Failure to do so has triggered successful legal actions by aboriginal bands.
In an interview, Mr. Prentice said the country must expand its capacity to export oil and natural gas from the West Coast to take advantage of growing Asian markets. Building that access is “one of the most important – and certainly one of the most challenging – initiatives our country has encountered in decades,” he said.
The Calgary native told his hometown audience that Ottawa’s neglect of the aboriginal relations could doom proposed oil pipelines, including Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project and Kinder Morgan Inc.’s TransMountain pipeline expansion.
“The obligation to consult with and accommodate first nations … these are responsibilities of the federal government,” said Mr. Prentice, who held posts as minister of Indian affairs, industry, and environment before leaving government in 2010. “And take it from me as a former minister and former co-chair of the Indian Claims Commission of Canada, there will be no way forward on West Coast access without the central participation of the first nations of British Columbia.”
He argued that Ottawa should negotiate an agreement that ensures native communities can support pipeline projects without affecting their unsettled land claims and launch a co-management regime with those aboriginal communities for port terminals and shipping.
But first-nations leaders want more: They want revenue-sharing and a share of the profits.
“The word here is potential – we’ve got all of these proposals and they represent massive potential investment,” said David Parker, executive director of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council, which represents B.C. chiefs.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/crucial-pipelines-jeopardized-by-failure-to-consult-first-nations-prentice-warns/article4572255/