Archive for the ‘Northern Gateway’ Tag

Tsilhqot’in Decision: Time to Grow up, Canada

In June, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision that will have immediate and far-reaching implications for the relationship of First Nations peoples and settlers in the land called Canada.

Like Rafe Mair, I grew up, and was educated in an anthropocentric worldview. Part of that worldview was our relationship with “the Indians”, who I now recognize as First Nations peoples. It has been quite a journey for me, as it has for Rafe Mair, whose reflection on this journey begins as follows:


Schoolbook depiction of Iroquois society: growing up in Kamloops, a white child learned about some eastern First Nations but virtually nothing about those in B.C.

The Tsilhqot’in (Roger William*) case is a game changer.

There is aboriginal title and it does not depend, as our title to our houses does, upon the Crown but is totally independent of Crown interests. Moreover — and this is perhaps of more immediate concern — no longer are developers just required to consult with First Nations in proposing development, they must get consent.

There will be, of course, more cases but they’ll be by way of explanatory rather than breaking the new ground. No doubt other First Nations will want to define their rights and there may be actions by developers with respect to their proposals. At the same time, because of William, one can expect governments to be much more in the mood to settle, especially since First Nations seem incapable of losing in the Supreme Court of Canada!

The full story is at:




First Nations response to Northern Gateway

IMG_1840On June 17, 2014 the Government of Canada, with the leadership of Stephen Harper,  approved Enbridge’s application to construct the Northern Gateway pipeline. This pipeline is designed to transport dilbit from the Tar Sands of Alberta, through the territories of First Nations peoples, to the west coast of Canada for export to international markets.

In immediate response to the federal government’s decision, First Nations across B.C. are uniting to defend their lands and waters from the unacceptable risks posed by Enbridge’s project. Read their response at:

What if Obama’s new emissions rule was applied in Canada?

VIEW: What if Obama’s new emissions rule was applied in Canada?

The new Environmental Protection Agency goal — a reduction in carbon emissions of 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 — applies only to emissions from electrical generating plants, power stations. The United States uses fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas for a far larger share of its power generation than hydro-blessed Canada.

As a result, that industry generates 40 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse emissions. The Canadian electricity sector’s share of this country’s GHGs is only about 12 per cent. Even a 30 per cent reduction there would only drag down total national emissions by four per cent.

Canada’s big-budget greenhouse items are transportation and the oil and gas sector. Together, they represent almost half, or 49 per cent, of our national emissions. Canada has set a new-vehicle fleet target for 2025 of releasing 50 per cent less greenhouse gasses than the 2008 model year, in line with U.S. policy.

The federal government has repeatedly promised to set emission-reduction targets for the country’s largest and fastest-rising emitter, the oil and gas industry, but has not yet done so.

In the unlikely event that Canada were to adopt the same target the U.S. just set for its power industry for its oil and gas emissions, the industry, whose emissions were one-quarter of the national total in 2012, would need to reduce them by more than 50 megatons a year by 2030. That would be roughly the emissions-cutting equivalent of idling every third car, truck, train and aircraft in Canada.

Chris Wood, author of Down the Drain: How We Are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources and Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America, is a freelance writer living in Mexico. Wood is also editor for Tyee Solutions Society.

– See more at:

Yinka Dene Alliance says NO to Northern Gateway

Yinka Dene First Nations provide formal reasons for decision to Canadian officials at all clans gathering

NAK’AZDLI, BRITISH COLUMBIA – (April 12, 2014) – Hereditary and elected leaders, elders, youth and other representatives from the First Nations of the Yinka Dene Alliance gathered Friday as the nations issued formal reasons for decision upholding their ban of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from their ancestral territories. The reasons were provided to Canadian federal officials during an all-day clans gathering held near Fort St. James.

The Yinka Dene Alliance is a coalition of First Nations opposed to the Enbridge pipeline whose ancestral territories comprise approximately 25 percent of the proposed pipeline route.

“Our decision to refuse consent for the Enbridge pipeline is a decision according to our own laws. It is binding and clearly set out in the Save the Fraser Declaration”, said Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation. “This gathering is about our people giving the reasons for our rejection of the Enbridge pipeline, in our voices, on our lands, under our laws”. The Yinka Dene Alliance spearheaded the Save the Fraser Declaration, which bans the Enbridge pipeline from the territories of its signatories under Indigenous law, and has been signed by representatives of over 100 First Nations since 2010.

Brett Maracle, the federal official responsible for First Nations consultation on the Enbridge pipeline proposal, attended the gathering along with a team of federal officials to hear the reasons for decision. Clan members at the gathering each contributed to a gift that was presented to the federal officials for carrying the peoples’ message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet. “This gift is made according to our laws to recognize these federal officials, and ultimately Stephen Harper and Canada’s cabinet, for hearing our formal notice that under no circumstances will heavy oil pipelines go through our territories” said Hereditary Chief Tsodih, Nak’azdli.

“It’s important for the Canadian government, and the public in BC and Canada, to know that our people act according to principles and responsibilities in our own system of law and governance”, stated Chief Tsodih.  “This gathering of our clans, for our leaders and elders to give reasons for the rejection of the Enbridge pipeline in an assembly according to our laws, affirms that our ban on the Enbridge pipeline isn’t a preference, it’s a determination under law.”

Many of the speakers at the gathering addressed the catastrophic effect that a spill from the Enbridge pipeline would have on their territories. “The risk of a devastating spill from the Enbridge pipeline is real. If a spill enters our waters, there is no effective way to clean it up. We will not allow our children to pay that cost for Enbridge,” said Chief Anita Williams of Takla Lake First Nation.

Click here for images from the gathering.

For more information on the Dene Alliance:


Tsodih (Pete Erickson)
Hereditary Chief, Nak’azdli

Anita Williams
Chief, Takla Lake First Nation

Kitimat Says ‘No’ to Northern Gateway

Kitimat Says ‘No’ to Northern Gateway

Community with ‘everything to gain’ from project rejects it in plebiscite vote.

By Emma Gilchrist, 13 Apr 2014,


After a public relations battle preceding the vote, Kitimat citizens “piped up against Enbridge.” Photo by Kathy Ouwehand.

Kitimat residents have voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 58 per cent of ballots in the city’s plebiscite being cast against the project as of 9 p.m. Saturday. In total, 1,793 voted against the proposed project, while 1,278 or 41.6 per cent were in favour.

Over three thousand ballots were cast, marking a high turnout (71 per cent) in the community of roughly 4,300 eligible voters at the terminus of Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline. Fifty-six per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the last municipal election.

“We’re celebrating with the Haisla outside in the park… and they’re surrounding the Douglas Channel Watch with thank you signs. They’re performing a drum song right now,” said Patricia Lange from Douglas Channel Watch. “It’s a really powerful moment.”

The vote, although non-binding, is significant as part of the public relations battle being waged over Enbridge’s project. Enbridge brought in teams of paid corporate canvassers from out of town, placed full-page ads in northern newspapers and launched a “Vote Yes for Kitimat” website.

“This vote is confirmation we are going to stand firm and say no to the influence of big oil,” Lange said. “And coming from our community, a community that has everything to gain from this project, we still say no. We are sending that message throughout B.C. and to Ottawa.”

Enbridge has ‘more work to do’: spokesperson

Donny van Dyk, Northern Gateway’s manager of coastal aboriginal and community relations, said in a statement: “Today’s result shows that while there is support for Northern Gateway in Kitimat, we have more work to do. And over the coming weeks and months we will continue to reach out and listen to our neighbours and friends so that Northern Gateway can build a lasting legacy for the people of our community.”

The cities of Smithers, Prince Rupert and Terrace already officially oppose the project, as do the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District and dozens of First Nations. The province of British Columbia also said no to the project in its final argument to the joint review panel. However, that panel overrode the province and recommended the project be approved. The federal cabinet has until June 19 to announce whether it will grant the project certificate.

Before the plebiscite began, Douglas Channel Watch had $200 in the bank (Enbridge earnings for 2013 were $446 million). When the group committed to its first full-page newspaper ad, members decided they would pay for the remainder themselves if donations wouldn’t cover it — then the money started rolling in.

“People began handing money to us while we were putting up lawn signs, or downtown, and somebody even left an anonymous $2,000 money order in one of our mailboxes,” said Murray Minchin, a member of the group.

Kitimat is located at the beginning of the Douglas Channel, where 225 tankers would be loaded with oil and set sail for Asia each year if Enbridge’s project goes ahead. The city is arguably the B.C. community that would benefit most from the project — with Enbridge promising up to 165 permanent jobs in the city.    [Tyee]

The Religion of Growth

IMG_1384Sunday December 29, 2013


By Jim Taylor

Two pipeline debates wrack North America these days. Both start in what Alberta euphemistically calls its “oil sands.”

One projected pipeline heads south, to refineries on Texas’ Gulf Coast — the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The other, the Northern Gateway pipeline, heads west to the Pacific Ocean and the burgeoning Asian markets.
I had a premonition that the Joint Review Panel studying the Northern Gateway line would came out in favour of it. On December 19, they did.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, 1159 people spoke to the panel against the pipeline, including the representatives for 130 First Nations. Only two spoke for it.

The sheer volume of public opinion might suggest that the pipeline’s opponents should win. But in cases like this, majorities do not necessarily rule.
Because the two who supported the pipeline had powerful allies — money and mindset.
They had the entire oil industry behind them. That’s about 25 per cent of the value of the Toronto Stock Exchange, and almost ten per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.
Back in the 1970s, when Pierre Trudeau tried to impose his National Energy Plan on the oil producing provinces in western Canada, bumper stickers in Alberta read, “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.”
The threat of the slogan is lessened now that provinces east of Ontario’s financial towers also produce oil. But the implied threat is still there. If Canada’s oil companies ever locked out consumers as a bargaining tactic, more than just “eastern bastards” would be freezing. And not driving. And doing without plastics of all kinds.
The Joint Review Panel found that “opening Pacific Basin markets is important to the Canadian economy and society.” Also that “the project would bring significant local, regional, and national economic and social benefits.”
Money talks.

Even more significantly, the two in favour of the Northern Gateway pipeline had on their side a prevailing mindset — the gospel of growth, growth, growth.
Its defenders cite economics — you must have growth to provide jobs.
Or demographics — you need a growing economy to provide continuing income for the people who are already there and retiring.
Or biology — any organism that stops growing is beginning to die.
Or even theology — the biblical mandate that God made the earth for humans to have dominion over it.
Against that mindset, it’s heresy, anathema, blasphemy, to argue that half of the province of B.C. should be preserved as is.
For four years, I covered news for the sweep of Highway 16 across northern B.C. And for one glorious summer, I worked in the woods that the pipeline will pass through on its way to Kitimat. It is a spectacularly beautiful region, barely damaged by the urban obsession with parking lots, freeways, and big box stores.
I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want my grandchildren to have to experience nature in a make-believe Disney theme park. Neither do the 1159 people who spoke against the pipeline.
They weren’t completely ignored. The review panel issued 209 recommendations to address their concerns.
But the panel also found that “after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low…. After weighing all of the oral and written evidence, the Panel found that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project than without it.”

Still, I guess that few of the pipeline’s opponents would want to freeze the clock where it is, let alone turn it backward. I doubt if they’re satisfied with the present quality of education for their children, medical care in their hospitals and medical clinics, and availability of road, air, and rail travel to larger centres outside the north.
In that sense, they too believe in growth — but at their pace, their timing. Not sudden massive growth where a single accident could destroy much of what they value about living in the north.
The pipeline itself may be the least of their worries. Pipelines can be monitored. Spills can be contained.
Tankers, that’s another matter. A tanker that runs aground, the way that B.C. Ferries flagship Queen of the North did, because of a short lapse of attention, despite all navigational aids, could have massive consequences.
And there will be an accident. I don’t know when. It may be decades away. But there will be an accident, eventually. The owners of the pipeline, the owners of the ships, will cut a dollar here and a dollar there to reduce costs. Safety will take second place to profit. Maintenance will become a chore rather than a commitment.
Now it’s up to the federal government to approve or reject the pipeline.
Given Stephen Harper’s support for private industry, his conservative economic leanings, his conviction that resources exist to be exploited, I don’t see him rejecting a development that could produce hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars of revenue.

As I expected, Northern Gateway will go ahead.
Copyright © 2013 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
Please encourage your friends to subscribe to these columns too.
To send comments, to subscribe, or to unsubscribe, write