Prime Minister Stephen Harper talked up the importance of First Nations consultations at a Vancouver Board of Trade event on Monday, part of his government's pipelines push.
Before watching Harper spin his yarn, consider these five points about Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway project, now in the hands of Harper's cabinet after Enbridge received conditional approval last month from a National Energy Board Joint Review Panel.
- The Harper government ignored First Nations requests for a decision-making process that would respect their constitutionally-protected Title and Rights. Instead, the "approval with conditions stems from a fundamentally and fatally flawed process," explains the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
Gerald Amos, chairman of the Friends of Wild Salmon Coalition of northwestern British Columbia, said the federal government made changes to regulatory rules during the review process that affected the outcome and put the final call in the hands of the cabinet. The government and processes "belong to the big oil companies, who have bought and paid for the changes that have been made very recently," Amos, a former chief of the Haisla Nation near Kitimat, where the tanker terminal for the project would be built, said last month.
- 71 First Nations are opposed to the project. The "Northern Gateway Project is being vehemently opposed by Indigenous Peoples who will not put their territories, waters and communities at risk. This is about the environmental integrity of the watersheds we all share and we are willing to go to any lengths to defend our watersheds. We are prepared to go to the wall against this project. We have no choice," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said after the conditional approval.
- A group of BC First Nations asked the United Nations special rapporteur on the right of indigenous people to investigate Enbridge's exploratory work permits.
- First Nations are preparing to launch a court challenge if the Harper government gives the Enbridge pipeline the go-ahead.
Now, watch Harper spin: