Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas re-affirmed his complete rejection and opposition to the recent decision to green light two pipeline projects.
“The Penticton Indian Band is bitterly disappointed in your governments broken promises and failure to follow through with your commitment in building a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship,” Eneas wrote in a letter that was sent to the Government of Canada.
Earlier this week the federal cabinet agreed to accept Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin the 63-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline to Burnaby, and rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline across northern B.C. to Kitimat.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said if he thought the project was unsafe for B.C. he would reject it.
“This is a decision based on rigorous debate, on science and on evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national,” said Trudeau.
Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion project would result in a seven-fold increase in tankers running through Vancouver harbour, carrying much more diluted bitumen than in the past. Trudeau noted it’s the twinning of an existing pipeline that has been in operation since 1953.
In contrast, Northern Gateway would have been an all-new pipeline.
The Trudeau government also approved the Line 3 pipeline upgrade by Enbridge from Alberta to Wisconsin. That $7.5-billion project will increase oil exports from 390,000 to 760,000 barrels per day and could be expanded further to 915,000 barrels.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, was concerned the pipeline approval was in trade for Alberta’s support for a national carbon tax.
“We were sold out,” Phillip said. “Trudeau supported (Alberta) Premier Rachel Notley’s agenda at the expense of B.C.’s environmental issues and values.”
The Penticton Indian Band’s letter states the government has an obligation to consult with First Nations whenever they contemplate a decision that may impact aboriginal rights and title.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to register our complete rejection to the statement from the Federal Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, that Canada only needs to inform and accommodate the concerns, interests and rights of First Nations regarding the approval of proposed resource development projects,” read the letter issued by Eneas.