Pro-pipeline declarations by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta premier Rachel Notley have received a stinging rebuke from leaders of B.C.'s environmental movement.
After an Ottawa summit on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, Trudeau and Notley insisted yesterday that the project will be completed.
In response, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip declared these comments show that the two politicians "continue to brazenly and arrogantly ignore First Nations rights".
"Making unilateral decisions about projects on unceded Indigenous territories is the exact opposite of reconciliation," Phillip said in a news release. "We confirm that our opposition is resolute, and we fully intend to stop this massively destructive pipeline from being built.”
Yesterday, Trudeau said that he's instructed Finance Minister Bill Morneau to hold "formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan" to "remove the uncertainty" around the project. It's raised the prospect of direct federal investment in the pipeline project, which will increase oil-tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet by nearly seven times.
Notley promised to form a financial relationship with Kinder Morgan to eliminate any financial risk for the Texas-based corporation, which holds a majority interest in Kinder Morgan Canada.
More than 185 people have been arrested over the past month for violating a court injunction forcing protesters to remain five metres away from the gates of Kinder Morgan's tank farm in Burnaby.
The vice president of the UBCIC, Chief Bob Chamberlin, said in the news release that Kinder Morgan must have the consent of all First Nations along the route of its pipeline.
"Bailing out Kinder Morgan so they can trample Indigenous title and rights makes a mockery of the Canadian pledge to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples," Chamberlin declared. "Canada has committed to implementing the recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and leaving proper restitution to First Nation peoples this late is unacceptable."
Khelsilem, an elected councillor with the Squamish First Nation, said that his people's rights are not being respected, describing this as a "betrayal" by Trudeau.
The guardian of the First Nations Watch House, Will George, noted that while Trudeau has promised to end "uncertainty", that's not going to occur.
"We will not be bought and we will block this pipeline," George promised.
Forty-three of the 140 First Nations consulted along the pipeline route have signed agreements with Kinder Morgan, according to the news release.
"I am appalled that our federal government is prepared to take public financial resources to push through an ill-conceived pipeline,” Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May said. “There is no independent cost-benefit analysis that makes the case that this is in the national interest.
"In their effort to serve the interests of this Texas pipeline company, the Liberals have broken their election commitments to end fossil fuel subsidies, to respect Indigenous rights, to deliver a climate plan, and to make decisions based on evidence," May continued. "Kinder Morgan is an albatross around Trudeau's neck. He should cut it loose and keep his promises."