Photo Credit Don Bain Protest Nov. 19, 2016
To the disgust and ire of many First Nations, municipalities, and people, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Reaction was immediate. “Trudeau betrayed us.” “Standing Rock coming to Canada.” “We must do what we can to protect our lands and waters.” “Trudeau is delusional if he thinks that we believe his commitment to climate change.” “Not surprised-big money runs the government.” “We will not give up or stop-our obligation is not to big oil”. The overarching reaction was people will continue to fight the project.
All of us knew that the decision was inevitable but people hoped with all the Prime Minister’s election promises that he would implement the United Nations Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples and the recommendations of the Truth and reconciliation and his statements that no relationship was more important than the one he had with First Nations that he would not approve the project. His alleged commitment to climate change and reducing green house gases was also an indication that maybe he would reject Kinder Morgan.
My immediate reaction was that he threw BC a bone by rejecting the already dead Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, threw Enbridge a bone (a pretty meaty one) in approving Line 3 and then imposed a huge blow at BC’s lands, water and coast by approving Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion. A decision that will have generational impacts.
What we do know and have always known is the money talks. Money is what drove the federal government to approve Kinder Morgan. The Prime Minister repeated many times in the press conference that the decision was made in the best interest of Canadians. That was his answer to many questions. It is like he didn’t have an answer to the question as to why he approved the project. He certainly didn’t have any elaborations on what the best interest of Canada was but he did mention jobs for middle class Canadians.
In his personal opinion, he would not have approved the project if he thought it would be unsafe for the BC Coast. His interest was that he had lived and worked in BC as if that is a legacy. We are assured these decisions are made on science, but the science shown today was the thinking of the Prime Minister.
Trudeau insisted that they had done the legwork or laid the foundation for the project. They had the 157 conditions of the NEB that had to be lived up to. Of course, those conditions are never monitored or enforced as has been the experience in the past. That was the high environmental standards he said would protect BC for future generations of children. There had been a carbon tax announced. Alberta had put in place a climate change policy to reduced GHG’s. There was the plan to phase out coal. And they put in place a marine response plan. Though experience has shown that only 5-15% of all oil is recovered depending on the conditions of the water, the response time and the type of oil. The Heiltsuk are still reeling from the sinking of the NathanEStewart and know that oil recovery just doesn't work.
Trudeau said he had listened very carefully to people. Obviously he listened to Kinder Morgan and Alberta, but did he listen to the First Nations? He said his government had talks with First Nations. Talks, not consent, not consultations, just talks. A very brief comment in rationale for approving a project that will definitely take away rights and at very least affect them for generations.
Trudeau has shown his support of business by supporting and signing onto all the international trade agreements that Harper negotiated. His belief is in making our resources available to the world and not leave them in the ground when they could benefit many generations.
I realize there are First Nations that signed onto Kinder Morgan and several admitted that they signed on because they were afraid the project would go ahead and they would get nothing. Can you imagine having to tell your children that we didn’t fight with everything we had to protect our lands and waters because we were afraid we wouldn’t get money from a project that would hurt us?
Tseil-Waututh whose territory will be impacted the most in the Burrard inlet has committed to fight to the end to protect their ocean and land. They are asking people to stand with them and many shall. There are many other First Nations who are affected as well who will be fighting against this project and be protectors and defenders of their lands. Standing Rock/Dakota pipeline will be repeated here, there are no other options.
For those who thought there would be a new world, sunny ways, and respect for First Nations from Trudeau were very mistaken. He talks a good talk but he does not do the walk.
For those who thought having a First Nations woman in the cabinet to help influence decisions, you were mistaken. Jody Wilson-Raybould stood proudly with Trudea, Carr and McKenna while their decision was announced. Talk about betrayal-her support and commitment to First Nation is non-existent. She should have resigned and called down the decision with such an important issue.Those First Nations who opposed Kinder Morgan were her biggest supporters.
The fight against the federal government, big business/oil never stops. First Nations in BC and municipalities and other people who oppose this project must organize and utilize every tool and mechanism available to stop the Kinder Morgan project. The elders have advised that the big black snake must be stopped and their advice has never been more important than now.
The true values of Justin Trudeau and his government were imminently clear today and First Nations relations/rights, the environment and preventing climate change was all sacrificed for the sake of big oil. This government is no different than Harper’s and there are very tumultuous times ahead.