At a meeting today of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Premier John Horgan talked about the Coastal GasLink pipeline:
The project will proceed. It’s fundamental to our economy, fundamental to prosperity for people in the north.
According to a report found among Labour Market Statistics at BC Stats, oil and gas extraction accounts for less than one-fifth of one-percent of jobs in this province.
In fiscal year 2020, natural gas is providing one-quarter of one-percent of total provincial revenue. In fiscal year 2009, natural gas provided ten-percent of the British Columbia Government’s total revenue.
At a time when the scientific consensus says we must reduce, not increase, use of fossil fuels, when 40+ Nobel prize winners lobby Canada to stop any expansion of the fossil fuel sector, when the 65 degrees Fahrenheit temperature in shrinking Antarctica matched that of Los Angeles, when arctic ice is at record low levels, when temperatures of this planet in the last five years were the warmest ever, Canada and its three western provinces are ruled by climate change deniers who put fossil fuel expansion above all else.
In BC, government expects natural gas production to increase 26.2% in the next three years, with further increases if LNG processors open for business. Years of low prices that make these projects uneconomic are only noticed to justify higher subsidies and taxpayer supports.
Coastal GasLink oppresses the rights of Wet’suwet’en leaders, depends on a politically directed investment of workers’ pension funds, and is intended to move fracked gas, not a bridge fuel to be used while renewable energy is developed.
Today, Ricochet, a public-interest news organization from eastern Canada, reported that Coastal GasLink lacked approval from BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
Almost two weeks ago, the best energy reporter in BC provided similar information. Sarah Cox wrote at The Narwhal:
Coastal GasLink cannot legally proceed with pipeline construction activities in the area around the Unist’ot’en healing centre, where Wet’suwet’en nation matriarchs and their supporters were arrested on Monday for defying a court-ordered injunction, the B.C. environment ministry has confirmed.
Last week, the environment ministry told The Narwhal the environmental assessment office is in the process of reviewing the report, a process that includes consultation with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
If the office deems the report unsatisfactory, Coastal GasLink must go back to the drawing board and re-submit the report, a process that could take up to several months.
The report was unsatisfactory. It is clear now that RCMP commandos were arresting and threatening people to prevent interference with unauthorized construction.
In BC Supreme Court, Madam Justice Marguerite Church had issued an injunction, saying workers needed to have safe passage to get to their construction sites. Yet, that construction was not authorized.
The court and the RCMP proclaim “the rule of law” must be upheld. Yet, under the law, Coastal Gas Link’s construction activity was not allowed.
Justice Church blundered, not just because the Coastal GasLink lacked a vital EAO permit, but because she failed to respect findings of the Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw v British Columbia and restated in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia.
In Delgamuukw, Chief Justice Lamer stated:
…first, that aboriginal title encompasses the right to exclusive use and occupation of the land held pursuant to that title for a variety of purposes, which need not be aspects of those aboriginal practices, customs and traditions which are integral to distinctive aboriginal cultures; and second, that those protected uses must not be irreconcilable with the nature of the group’s attachment to that land.
In Tsilhqot’in, Canada’s high court stated in paragraph 73 of its reasons for judgement:
Aboriginal title confers ownership rights similar to those associated with fee simple, including: the right to decide how the land will be used; the right of enjoyment and occupancy of the land; the right to possess the land; the right to the economic benefits of the land; and the right to pro-actively use and manage the land.
Both the Horgan and Trudeau governments made symbolic commitments to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Neither was sincere.
Horgan passed UNDRIP into BC law but now ignores the declaration. Trudeau said they would table a bill on UNDRIP but this week decided to put the promise aside.
Indigenous people won’t be surprised by choices of either government. They’ve observed 150 years of oppressive acts and broken promises.