Citizen Action Monitor

Liberals fail to demonstrate commitment to First Nations and climate change concerns

Trudeau says one thing and then does another and Canadians are not being fooled

No 1793 Posted by fw, October 5, 2016

“The Canadian Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave approval to the proposed 36 billion dollar Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline and export facility. They’re set to be built on Lelu Island off the coast of British Columbia. The project is majority owned by the Malaysian company, PETRONAS. There’s also a pending decision from the Prime Minister expected in December, as has been leaked to Bloomberg News, on another highly controversial BC based pipeline, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline has been the subject by the major campaign of the advocacy group Lead Now.”Dharna Noor, The Real News Network

In a 13-minute video, embedded below, Dharna interviews two prominent outspoken Canadian critics of Team Trudeau’s decision to approve the LNG export facility off the BC coast: economist Robyn Allan and citizen activist and advocate Louisette Lanteigne, a Mi’kmaq.

Robyn Allan blasted the National Energy Board’s Kinder Morgan’s pipeline review process. Among her several NEB volleys, is this zinger:

“The National Energy Board reviewed Kinder Morgan’s project under a projection of future oil supply that did not have any of the Liberal government’s stated climate change policies included in it. So we essentially have the Kinder Morgan-NEB recommended project under the Harper government vision of the future. And so now we have the Liberal government suggesting that this project’s needed when in fact that projections it’s based on are ridiculous. And so you have this huge duplicity coming from the federal government — they say one thing and they’re doing another and Canadians really are not being fooled.”

The amazing Louisette Lanteigne, who has single-handedly either stopped environmentally damaging projects or won concessions, takes deadly aim at Trudeau’s approval of the polluting LNG pipeline project, without indigenous consultation:

“I found it interesting that she [Minister McKenna] also made note that there was indigenous consultation involved with this project, because [indigenous] people who actually live on Lelu Island were not consulted. And it’s quite alarming for them to find this decision approved. We really have to go back to the root of why can’t they [Liberal gov.] say “No” [to this project]? We’ve seen this government be very proactive in saying we need to do climate action and yet on the same note, they just approved the highest polluting project.”

Below is an embedded repost of the video, along with a proofread, corrected version of the transcript which had numerous errors and inaudible notations. My added subheadings and bracketed insertions help to bring clarity to the text. Alternatively, click on the following linked title to view the video and access an error-riddled transcript.

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Canada Approves Economically Inviable Pipeline Without Indigenous Consultation by The Real News Network, September 30, 2016

The liberal government has failed to demonstrate a commitment to First Nations and climate change concerns, say Robyn Allan and Louisette Lanteigne

TRANSCRIPT

Dharna Noor, TRNN — This week, the Canadian Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave approval to the proposed 36 billion dollar Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline and export facility. They’re set to be built on Lelu Island off the coast of British Columbia. The project is majority owned by the Malaysian company, PETRONAS.

There’s also a pending decision from the Prime Minister expected in December, as has been leaked to Bloomberg News, on another highly controversial BC based pipeline, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline has been the subject by the major campaign of the advocacy group Lead Now. The deadline for public input on this pipe is Friday September 30th.

With us to discuss these two pipelines and their social, environmental, and economic implications are our two guests.

Robyn Allan is an economist and former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. She was an expert intervener at the National Energy Board Trans Mountain Expansion Hearing.

We’re also joined by Louisette Lanteigne who is a pro bono advocate who stopped projects and secured concessions to protect water supplies and endangered species. Her work is housed at the Wilfred Laurier Archives, which is the largest repository of environmental law data in Canada.

“This project was subject to a rigorous environmental assessment and today’s announcement reflects this commitment,” says environment minister Catherine McKenna

Noor — So let’s begin by talking about the approval of the Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline. The environment minister Catherine McKenna said, quote, “this project was subject to a rigorous environmental assessment and today’s announcement reflects this commitment. The government has also attached 190 legally binding conditions to this approval, which, for the first time, includes placing a maximum cap on greenhouse gas emissions.”

So what’s your reaction to the approval of the pipeline and the conditions that they’re attaching to it.

Why has Trudeau approved polluting LNG pipeline project without indigenous consultation?   

Lanteigne — Well upon first hearing it I found it interesting that she [McKenna] also made note that there was indigenous consultation involved with this project, because [indigenous] people who actually live on Lelu Island were not consulted. And it’s quite alarming for them to find this decision approved. We really have to go back to the root of why can’t they [Liberal gov.] say “No” [to this project]? We’ve seen this government be very proactive in saying we need to do climate action and yet on the same note, they just approved the highest polluting project. So why is “No”, [not] the [right] answer?

Is the government counting on First Nations to torpedo the LNG deal so it can escape NAFTA penalty laws?

Well I think it goes down to laws like NAFTA which make it very difficult for Canada to back out of the bad project without risking liability. So I think what they’re doing is they’re actually falling back on First Nations to bail them out. Because First Nations are recognized nations according to international treaties, recognized by the United Nations. We have the power to say “No” because we never signed NAFTA, so there’s no NAFTA risk associated with us saying “No”. I think that’s what he’s [Trudeau] placing his bets on.

Noor — And let’s shift gears and discuss the Kinder Morgan Pipeline as well. Robyn you’ve looked at the economics of this pipeline. Does the construction of this pipeline make economic sense? Is this a good move for Canada?

The Kinder Morgan pipeline makes no economic sense

Allan — Not at all. This pipeline makes no economic sense. And I intervened in the process trying to get on the hearing record. The economic case against the pipeline and the National Energy Board [NEB] refused to hear it.

The National Energy Board supports the interests of pipeline companies, not the public interests

So we have a captured regulator in Canada. It’s like FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] in the states in that it regulates the pipelines. But this regulator [NEB] does not regulate in the public interest. It only supports the wishes of pipeline companies, and that’s why it’s undergoing a major review.

Trudeau broke his promise to redo the Trans Mountain pipeline review process

We were promised it would be overhauled. We were promised that the Trans Mountain review would be redone under a credible process. And that promise has also been broken. So we have a serious economic harm being done to the Canadian economy and that’s not being recognized.

The economic benefits of the pipeline have not been compared to the costs of the environmental harm

And this false dichotomy that there are economic benefits, have to be pressed up against an environmental harm; it’s a ridiculous argument but it continues to hold the day, and it’s very distressing for people here that understand what’s going on.

Noor — And on this pipeline, Louissette, can you talk about the role First Nations are playing in this assessment process? The government is saying they are consulting First Nations on these pipelines? But what are the processes for input in place and are they legitimate? What effect can they have because it’s worth noting also that Canada became a signatory to the UN declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples back in May, so has that had any effect?

At its founding, Canada had no standing as a country, whereas the indigenous peoples did and are now recognized by the UN as a country

Lanteigne — Well here’s the root of the issue. When Canada became a nation it was without writ [a formal document] to the beneficiaries who were receiving benefits from the original crown agreements and the treaty rights. So we have basically [Canada] what’s existing as a corporate entity. And a corporate entity has no jurisdictional power to handle international treaties because they’re not technically a country. We [indigenous peoples] are a country. The First Nation’s people are actually recognized in the UN as being “country” because we had to do agreements with Europe in order to do trade.

Indigenous people should be negotiating directly with Canada, the crown’s representative, not the NEB, a third party 

In my case, the first time we [indigenous peoples] were recognized as official nationhood was in 1610 by way of the Vatican Concordat because I’m a Mi’kmaq person. In BC they have other treaties specific to their people as well with the crown. So the only protocol we [indigenous people] are legally bound to is in consultation with the crown itself. We don’t have as an indigenous people, the mechanisms to facilitate a third party entity to replace that function. It’s not right for us to see Canada download the burden of consultation onto a third party, [the] NEB [National Energy Board] when they have nothing to do, in our policy, with what we [indigenous people] need to do to comply with the law.

Noor — Talk some more about how the National Energy Board functions. As you said Robyn, the board was promised to undergo a huge overhaul. But who’s interests are they representing now and who would be represented if they did undergo this overhaul?

The NEB has become a facilitator of the pipeline companies, and is not acting in the public interest

Allan — Well the National Energy Board is supposed to represent the public interests, the Canadian public interests. And it has become completely incapable of delivering its job because it is simply a facilitator of the interests of pipeline companies. It has never seen a project it doesn’t like. It has gone to the situation now where in order to get to yes on these projects that are not economically sound and not in the Canadian public interests,

  • they restrict the scope of issues,
  • they refuse cross examination of the evidence,
  • they actually exclude participation by people that are directly affected and
  • they refuse to actually test the evidence that does happen to make it to the record.

The NEB has rigged the review process in order to arrive at a preconceived outcome – pipeline approval

So you see what we have is a situation where in order to get to “yes” they have to rig the outcome.

And Trudeau has broken his promise to redo the NEB review process

And we have a Prime Minister that understood that and he promised he would redo this review under a credible quasi-judicial process and he’s broken that. And what that has created in British Columbia and across Canada is huge, huge resistance that will be mounted to the point that this project will never go forward because due process hasn’t been given. And we do have the First Nations to be very thankful to because they are very strong and adamant that they have to be consulted on a government to government basis and that’s not being done.

First Nations and concerned Canadians are saying “No, it stops here, we will not allow this.”

So now we have a situation where First Nations, communities, concerned citizens, retired people, thoughtful Canadians are saying “No, it stops here, we will not allow this.”

Harper’s logic was no prior consultation with indigenous people; if there’s a decision they don’t like, let them take their concerns to the courts

Lanteigne — You see a pattern repetitively where the consultation processes that they deem worthy only come after the decision has been officially made by way of the NEB. Harper’s logic was basically that well we don’t need consultation unless a decision is actually made that they [indigenous people] don’t like. What that does it puts us in a position of fiscal duress because we have to foot the bill for natural court costs to have a say on the project. Whereas the rest of Canada is allowed to engage freely in the National Energy Board process prior to the decision. We don’t have a say prior to the decision.

That’s the fundamental issue. Why is it that we have to pay in the courts to have our stake where the rest of the communities have the right to speak before the decision is made? We don’t like this approach. It’s very, very costly and a lot of duress for indigenous people across Canada.

The feds gave Kinder Morgan $238M to ensure approval, while citizen intervenors got $3-$4M

Allan — And just speaking to that, as well, because the cost situation is very imbalanced. The National Energy Board a number of years ago provided Kinder Morgan a $238-million-dollar fund in an unprecedented decision to force this regulatory approval through. And then when it came to participating in the NEB hearing, participants got hardly any funding at all. We’re talking $3-$4 million compared to $238 million. It’s totally unfair.

The people have lost all trust in the feds and NEB’s rigged process

The NEB has rigged this entire process. It is not credible in Canada. People do not believe the NEB should be trusted in any way and we have the Energy East hearings that crumbled because of conflict of interests. So the system isn’t functioning, it’s broken. And the more these companies try to push this project through, Kinder Morgan tries to lobby the government, tries to use all it’s power from the states to push this through, the less and less likely this thing is going to happen.

Noor — I want to wrap by asking what comes of the environmental goals that were set at the Paris Climate Agreement for Canada? Will these pipelines if and when they’re built have any effect on whether or not these goals can be met?

The issue of climate change and emission targets were ruled outside the scope of the review process

Lanteigne — Only in the LNG process, it was clarified quite plainly, in plain language, that the issue of climate change was outside the scope of the review process, and such was the case of the Line 9 hearings as well. We had an expert during the Enbridge Line 9 hearing here in Ontario with the National Energy Board who came and spoke of the Rossby wave effects — how the tar sands are creating a heat island effect that is blowing hot air into the Arctic and effecting jet streams so much so that instead of it going in a straight line across the earth, keeping Nordic temperatures here, the mid climates here and so on, they’ve essentially created a giant bubble of heat that goes up and it pushes cold air down. And it’s effecting the jet streams so dramatically that it altered the flight times from Britain to Canada by an hour.

We’re dealing with all kinds of havoc because once the weather patterns go in this kind of chaotic effect, it’s a ripple effect for all of the other jet streams. So this is a big part of climate change. And yet the National Energy Board stated to this man, sorry this outside the scope.

Trudeau promised to consider climate risk in NEB hearings and then went ahead and approved the LNG anyway

And one of the promises of the Trudeau government was that they would consider climate risk into the National Energy Board process. But with the approval of the LNG we clearly see that he’s not applying that logic.

Trudeau says one thing and then does another and Canadians are not being fooled

Allan — And further to that, the National Energy Board reviewed Kinder Morgan’s project under a projection of future oil supply that did not have any of the liberal government’s stated climate change policies included in it. So we essentially have the Kinder Morgan-NEB recommended project under the Harper government vision of the future. And so now we have the Liberal government suggesting that this project’s needed when in fact that projections it’s based on are ridiculous. And so you have this huge duplicity coming from the federal government. They say one thing and they’re doing another and Canadians really are not being fooled.

As for promised economic benefits of tarsands production and pipelines to coastal terminals, the demand is no longer there

Lanteigne — The weakest part of this entire argument is actually the economics because right now they’re losing about $25 per barrel just pulling it out of the ground. That doesn’t count the infrastructure costs. We have experts like Jeff Rubin and experts like Mike Ellison from the industry itself saying this is not viable. We have report after report showing that the economics don’t make sense any more. Like [in] 2025, we’re going to have electric cars the same price as carbon combustion engines. So the demand isn’t there. We have an oil glut. They’re not applying the reality of today’s economics on these proposals that came out back in 2012, 2015 and 14. We have to look at the reality of today’s economics and know when to cut bait.

Noor — Again the deadline for public input on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline is Friday September 30th. Robyn and Louissette, thank you so much for joining us today.

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