RE: The National Energy Board’s One Week Consultation Period for First Nations Affected by the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Project
Dear Ms. Sheri Young:
We are responding to a letter dated September 26th, 2018 regarding the re-assessment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Project, in which the National Energy Board requested feedback from First Nations affected by the pipeline route regarding the updated process. As stated, the letter is dated September 26th, but presents a deadline to Indigenous communities to register to participate in hearings and to provide submissions by October 3rd – a period of only one week.
In this letter, the NEB identifies certain questions that they would like Indigenous communities to respond to, including the question of whether or not Project-related marine shipping should be included within the assessment and a draft list of pre-determined “Issues for the Reconsideration Hearing,” to which First Nations can provide comment to amend, with no guarantee that these concerns will make the final cut. We condemn the ways in which this process is currently operating. Pre-determined questions, ridiculously short deadlines, and obvious rhetoric to try and avoid the inclusion of the impacts of increased tanker traffic off the BC Coast, despite the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that the previous assessment was insufficient due to the omission of marine shipping indicates that the NEB’s re-assessment only has one goal in mind: to push this project through to completion, despite Court rulings, public opinion, and Indigenous opposition.
In no way, shape, or form does a one-week timeframe constitute proper consultation with Indigenous peoples. You cannot possibly listen carefully and respectfully to the concerns of affected First Nations in one week. You cannot possibly consult with Indigenous peoples via a “comment” submission process on a list of pre-determined issues. This process cannot be rushed; this is why it failed in the Federal Court of Appeal in the first place. Rushing through the process once again will only lead to another expensive legal failure.
However, even if the NEB did take longer than a week to consult with Indigenous groups and examine the environmental risks of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the project will fail. It is dangerous, unwanted, toxic, and a form of ancient technology in a world where clean, green energy is becoming standard and accessible.
Kinder Morgan and the Government of Canada have been told repeatedly that we will not stand for our lands, waters, and ecosystems to be poisoned in the name of the so-called national interest. The fact that Canada has assigned the NEB to re-do this assessment is a direct violation of the principle of free, informed, and prior consent contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), which the federal government claimed to have committed to implement without qualification. Through these actions, including this letter which leaves no room for possible opposition to this project, the NEB is violating the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples.
If the final assessment says anything less than that this project is dangerous for our waters and marine ecosystems, it will be made remarkably clear that the NEB has become the official mouthpiece of Justin Trudeau’s fanatical determination to build an expensive, disastrous, unwanted pipeline. Unbiased facts born out of science and proper consultation that lasts for longer than a week will not yield the response the Trudeau government wants, and this is not a secret to them.
It has become clear that the Trudeau government will continue to cut corners to get their way, but they will fail. They have failed in the courts once, and they will do so again. The NEB’s re-assessment must accurately and truthfully report the risks of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and not fall victim to the coercive tactics that have been employed by the Trudeau government to force the project into reality.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Project is extremely dangerous and environmentally toxic, obvious to environmental experts and Indigenous communities alike. The supposed values of the federal government cannot reconcile with this project, including its commitment to implement the UN Declaration and the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the development of a Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework, the future findings of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and especially its commitment to combat climate change and invest in clean energy.
One week for Indigenous consultation is not enough, and it never can be justified to be enough. We implore you to conduct this re-assessment in an unbiased, respectful, and comprehensive manner, for the future of our lands, our waters, and our future generations.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip Chief Robert Chamberlin Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
President Vice-President Secretary-Treasurer
CC: Neskonlith Indian Band