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July 2, 2014 - No. 62

Decision to Proceed with Northern Gateway Pipeline

No Means No!
Pipeline Approval in Contempt
of the Rights of First Nations
and Canadians


Mass action in Prince George against the approval of the Enbridge Pipeline, outside of MP Dick Harris' office,
June 19, 2014. (A. Thomas)

Decision to Proceed with Northern Gateway Pipeline
No Means No! Pipeline Approval in Contempt of the Rights of First Nations and Canadians
No to Northern Gateway! Yes to a New Direction for the Economy! - Peggy Morton

Swearing In of New Ontario Government
First Nations Remind Government of Nation-to-Nation Relations

Wawangajing -- Ring of Fire
New Report Raises Social and Environmental Concerns


Decision to Proceed with Northern Gateway Pipeline

No Means No! Northern Gateway Approval in Contempt of the Rights of First Nations and Canadians


Vancouverites take immediate mass action to oppose the approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline,
June 17, 2014. (M. Bush)

On June 17 the Harper dictatorship announced its approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, subject to the 209 conditions set out by the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in its conditional approval of the project, December 19, 2013.[1] The Northern Gateway pipeline would ship up to 525,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen (dilbit) to Kitimat, BC. A twinned line would have the capacity to import and ship 193,000 barrels of diluent per day east to Alberta.

The Harper government's approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline violates the right of First Nations and Canadians to decide and is in contempt of the clear expression by Canadians and First Nations that they have not given their approval to this project. It lacks any legal or moral authority and is in contempt of the government's constitutional duty for consultation and accommodation of the First Nations. A coalition of 160 First Nations have said 'no,' together with 31 municipal governments, two regional districts, the Union of BC municipalities and six unions which have passed resolutions against the project.

Harper and former Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver made it clear that they would approve the pipeline even before the JRP had completed its hearings.

Following the JRP decision, the Harperites declared that they would "consult" with First Nations before announcing their final decision. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford has now declared that Enbridge must do more to engage Aboriginal groups, showing the lawlessness of the Harperites who have abandoned even the pretense that they will act to fulfill their legal and moral obligations. The obligation to consult First Nations lies not with private monopoly interests, but with the Crown. The Northern Gateway pipeline does not have the approval of the First Nations directly affected and is therefore completely illegitimate.

From start to finish, the approval process has excluded real participation by Canadians. The Harper dictatorship made its decision on the basis that the benefits to the oil monopolies and other private interests trump the rights of First Nations, the risks to Mother Earth, the fisheries and the entire coastal economy. The decision further endorses the shipping of raw resources, depriving the Canadian economy of the main bulk of the added-value. This not only means the loss of the majority of jobs which are in the upgrading, refining and associated manufacturing of the raw resources, but also that the transferred-value from social programs will not be realized and returned to the social institutions that create the value.

The people of BC, First Nations and Canadians have already responded by holding rallies and other events to express their No! Constitutional challenges and other legal challenges have already begun. More than 186,000 people have signed on at Let BC Vote (www.letbcvote.ca) to demand that the people of BC should decide. The BC government has also stated that the BC government's position remains No, because only one of BC's four conditions has been met. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs together with other Aboriginal organizations and 28 First Nations have announced they will "vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project," stating that the project and the federal process to approve it, violated their rights and laws.

Nothing in this announcement will change the fact that Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline has been banned from the territory of the First Nations that are signatory to the Save the Fraser Declaration. It will not change the fact that the people of BC have not agreed to put the future of their rivers and coastline, fisheries, and coastal economy in the hands of Enbridge, whose only aim is to enrich the owners of capital. It will not change the demand of Canadians that the shipping raw resources be stopped as this deprives the Canadian economy of the main source of added-value -- the upgrading, refining and the petrochemical industry. It will not stop the work to enforce the resounding No! which Canadians, especially the people of BC and First Nations have expressed. It will intensify the work to Stop Harper! and force him to resign.



Defend Our Climate Rally, Vancouver, May 10, 2014.

Note

1. The JRP was established to fulfill the requirements of the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Under the new environmental assessment framework contained in the 2012 spring omnibus budget bill, Cabinet has final decision-making power over the Northern Gateway pipeline but is "bound" by the 209 conditions laid out in the JRP report, with a decision required within 180 days of the JRP approval.

(Photos: M. Bush, TML)

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No to Northern Gateway!
Yes to a New Direction for the Economy!


Defend Our Climate Rally, Calgary, May 10, 2014.

The Harper government has announced its approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. In approving the project, the Harper dictatorship has upheld the demand of private monopoly interests including the oil and gas cartels and financial institutions that there be no impediment to their extracting and shipping the greatest amount of oil and gas in the shortest possible time. The Harper government has declared that any block to the narrow aims of the resource monopolies is contrary to the national interest and even national security, while the destruction of manufacturing is considered a "private business decision."

The oil and gas monopolies operating in Alberta are pushing for the continued frenzied expansion of the oil sands. New production is to be exported as diluted bitumen without upgrading or refining. With increased production from conventional oil reservoirs using fracking and other technologies, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Marketers (CAPP) forecasts Canadian crude production from all sources at 6.4 million barrels/day by 2030, from 3.5 million barrels per day in 2013. Oil sands production is forecast at 4.8 million barrels a day by 2030.

This forecast was reduced by 400,000 barrels a day recently when the French monopoly Total announced it was shelving plans for a new plant, a move attributed to uncertain markets. Such fluctuations show that decisions concerning resources cannot be left to private interests based on their narrow private calculations and the global rivalries of the resource monopolies.

The frenzied expansion of the oil sands was supposed to provide a secure source for the U.S. war machine. But the U.S. is awash with oil from the fracking of shale oil, at least for the moment. Consequently President Obama has refused to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, which would expand access to the U.S. markets, and has returned to considering the oil sands a reserve which will be there when needed. This is causing much consternation in the Calgary oil company towers, with predictions that oil sands production post 2020 has no market.

The oil and gas monopolies operating in Canada and the banks with which they are merged insist that a pipeline to ship bitumen from the oil sands to Asia is a must. The Northern Gateway would not only provide a market for 525,000 barrels a day from the oil sands, it would make a statement to the U.S. They not only want to open new markets in Asia, they want to use the pipeline as a bargaining chip with the next U.S. administration.

Jim Prentice, until recently Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of CIBC, and now the front-runner for leader of the Alberta PCs and Premier of Alberta, laid out the demands of monopoly private interests in a speech to the Ottawa Economic Club.

"Allow me to put it another way: if we drift along these next few years, if we arrive at the table with the new American administration in 2017 without pipelines completed or under construction; without one or two [Liquid Natural Gas] terminals under construction along the BC coast; without the agreement and participation of First Nations as full economic partners; without action to show leadership and further address the environmental impact of our energy production -- if we arrive at the table as a country with no way to sell its oil to anyone but the Americans, and no interest in improving its environmental performance in a world increasingly concerned with carbon, does anyone in this room here today think we'll be taken seriously? Does anyone think the new administration will feel compelled or inspired to hear us out on the benefits of further economic and energy integration?"[1]

The approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline is not a path to economic prosperity. In itself it would give rise to very few jobs, with about 1,500 construction jobs for three years and 228 direct jobs. By shipping raw bitumen, the potential for developing the economy based on upgrading, refining and petrochemicals is lost. The main source of added-value is lost to Canada while existing coastal industries including the fisheries and tourism are put at risk.

Another serious consideration is that Enbridge has shown itself to be reckless in the extreme in its pursuit of private profit and unfit to be given such approval. For example, in 2013 the National Energy Board found that Enbridge had no back-up power to operate emergency shut-down systems in 117 of its 125 pumping stations, in violation of long-standing regulations. Enbridge also disclosed that 83 pumping stations did not even have emergency shut-down buttons, also in violation of long-established requirements.

The Workers' Opposition rejects this direction for the economy which is based on the dictate of private monopoly interests that have completely taken over the public authority. A new direction for the economy can and must be established which will give rise to a vibrant integrated all-round economy where resource extraction bolsters manufacturing and the creation of strong communities with social programs, public services and infrastructure.

The rights of First Nations must be respected and upheld. The rights of the workers who build resource extraction projects, and mine and extract the resources and transport them must be upheld. Public safety must be protected and no more crimes like Lac-Mégantic permitted. The muzzling of scientists must be ended and resources for research greatly expanded to ensure that development will not cause short-term or long-term harm to Mother Earth, and the cumulative effects of extraction are fully accounted for.

The wrecking of manufacturing must be stopped. Destruction of Canada's manufacturing cannot be considered a "private business decision." The steel, heavy machinery and other components of these projects should be manufactured in Canada from resource to finished product and replacement parts.

Canadians and First Nations have asserted their right to decide and exercise control over resource development so that development is consistent with the public interest, strengthens the socialized economy and contributes to humanizing the natural and social environment. The time is now for a new direction! No to the Northern Gateway Pipeline!

Note

1. Keynote address on Canada/U.S. relations to the Ottawa Economic Club, February 12, 2014: https://www.cibc.com/ca/media-centre/speeches-presentations.html

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Swearing In of New Ontario Government

First Nations Remind Government of
Nation-to-Nation Relations


Replica of the 1764 Covenant Chain Confederacy Wampum Belt, made by Ken Maracle of the Six Nations, March 2014.
The two figures represent the Crown (left) and First Nations. (www.canadiancrown.com)

At the swearing-in ceremony for the Liberal cabinet of Kathleen Wynne, Gary Sault, an elder of the Mississaugas of the Credit, presented both the Premier and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley with a replica of the British and Western Great Lakes Covenant Chain Confederacy Wampum Belt. The original wampum belt was presented by the British to the 24 First Nations who were present at the Treaty of Niagara in 1764. This act ratified the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which codified the relationship between the Crown and these First Nations as one of equal allies, based on mutual respect, self-determination and peace.

The Covenant Chain wampum belt symbolizes the relationship between the First Nations and the Crown as one that is as strong as the links in a chain and that both parties have a social responsibility to pay attention to this relationship and to "polish the chain" to keep it from tarnishing. The British also presented the Twenty-Four Nations wampum belt to honour the First Nations who attended the Treaty of Niagara.

In turn, the First Nations presented the British with the Two-Row Wampum. It symbolizes the Crown and the First Nations travelling in separate vessels down the same river, representing the principle of non-interference in each others' affairs and a commitment to act in peace and friendship toward each other.


The Two-Row Wampum.

In presenting the wampum belt to the Lieutenant-Governor and to Premier Wynne, Elder Gary Sault stated, "This wampum is a reminder that it’s 250 years [since] the Treaty of Niagara ... So we visit you with this wampum to stir the fires so that you can once again start to polish that great Covenant Chain." His remarks underscore that more than 100 years before Confederation, the Crown and the First Nations codified relations on a nation-to-nation basis and the wampums are constitutional "documents" that have utmost significance for First Nations in their relations with the Crown, despite the fact that since the Royal Proclamation of 1763 the Crown has violated the spirit of these arrangements and abused this relationship. Sault's important and symbolic statement did not receive any mention in the monopoly media.

Sault's comments point to the resolve of First Nations to defend their rights as independent sovereign nations and to hold Canadian governments to account for the ongoing crimes committed against Indigenous peoples in Canada for the more than 250 years since the Royal Proclamation. This includes the Wynne government, which has trampled First Nations’ rights such as in the case of the Grassy Narrows First Nation's long standing fight to prevent the Ministry of Natural Resources from giving out permits to clearcut the forests on their territory, a case that is now before the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Wawangajing -- Ring of Fire

New Report Raises Social and
Environmental Concerns

On June 19, the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada (WSC) and Ecojustice released a report entitled Getting it Right in Ontario's Far North: The Need for Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Ring of Fire (Wawangajing). The report identifies environmental, economic and political risks that endanger the peoples of the Far North of Ontario if development in this area the First Nations call Wawangajing proceeds within the unplanned and narrow framework set unilaterally by the private monopoly interests that are driving the discussions about exploiting the region's mineral resources. The report follows the majority government win by the Wynne Liberals, whose campaign platform included a promise to spend $1 billion on infrastructure to develop the Ring of Fire. Premier Wynne also promised to set up a development corporation for the Ring of Fire within 60 days of taking office that will include both the provincial and federal governments, First Nations and private companies.


Map of Wawangajing, the Ring of Fire. Click to enlarge.

The report notes that with the increasing intrusion of mining and other resource extraction companies into Northern Ontario, First Nations in particular are vulnerable to decisions being made by outsiders who want to come into their territories and carry out mineral exploration without their involvement and consent. This is unsustainable from an environmental, ecological and social point of view, the authors state.

The report points out that there is no actual plan to develop the Ring of Fire. Everything is left to various mining companies and First Nations to come to individual agreements on a piecemeal basis. The authors of the report, lawyer Anastasia Lintner at Ecojustice, and Dr. Cheryl Chetkiewicz, Associate Conservation Scientist at the WSC, highlight that there has been no integrated planning process in the Ring of Fire to date so that the project could be put in perspective. There is a plan to build a road, but no serious environmental and social assessment that would take into consideration the long term effects of the Ring of Fire project on the First Nations and their communities and the overall future of Ontario. The report emphasizes that the First Nations concerned must be "decision makers in the process or any development will be mired in delays and conflict." The authors of the report conclude that First Nations are presently at the receiving end of decisions by the provincial and federal governments to push these developments forward, often at the expense of their well-being.

A planned approach that would involve First Nations at all stages is necessary. Also required is a thorough assessment of the consequences of such a project on First Nations communities and their futures as well as the environmental consequences for one of the largest areas of boreal forest in the world.

At a minimum the Government of Ontario must consider a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (R-SEA) which has been recommended by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and would build on the recommendations of the Far North Science Advisory Panel, states the report. Such an approach would enable a discussion as to "where, when and in what form development is appropriate" as opposed to imposing unilateral decisions on First Nations and other communities and forcing them to bear the negative impacts of new economic projects.

The full report can be downloaded from www.ecojustice.ca.

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