OTTAWA – Representatives of a B.C. First Nation that is deeply opposed to a proposed pipeline expansion emerged from a meeting Monday with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr to say they believe the fix is in.
But Chief Maureen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation says that if the federal Liberals do approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline, her people have no interest in the kind of violent confrontations taking place in Standing Rock over the Dakota Access pipeline.
“I think first and foremost we will continue our best to try and talk to the government in one form or another,” Thomas told a news conference when asked about the tactics being used by Standing Rock protesters.
“We’ve tried to do everything in the right way. We’ve always tried to take the high road. We’re not here to disrupt the rest of Canada. We’re not here to cause problems for individuals.”
Thomas’s nephew Rueben George, who manages communications for the band, said the Tsleil-Waututh Nation is confident and comfortable with the extent to which Canada’s Constitution protects indigenous rights.
“We’ll do what it takes legally to stop it, but Tsleil-Waututh Nation said all along we’ll do what it takes — period — to stop it,” said George. That doesn’t include violence, he said.
“Standing Rock — I believe Canadians and the government wouldn’t want that. People are being shot. A lady’s arm was blown off,” said George.
“That’s something that we would want to avoid. People are getting really, really hurt down there every single day.”
Thomas and a local delegation met Carr on Parliament Hill in what she said was their last talk before the Liberal cabinet announces its decision on the oil pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta to the port in Burnaby, B.C. The Liberals have said they’ll pronounce on Kinder Morgan’s pipeline no later than Dec. 19.
George called it the “worst kept secret” that Ottawa plans to approve the pipeline expansion.
Carr told reporters that he’s met Tsleil-Waututh representatives five times and understands their concerns about the air, water and land.
“And it is a value and a lesson and a teaching that I think should be important for all Canadians, not just indigenous Canadians,” he said.
Carr refused to tip his hand on when cabinet will announce decisions on two Enbridge pipeline bids — the stalled Northern Gateway project across northern B.C. to Kitimat and the replacement and expansion of the Line 3 line from Alberta through southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba into U.S. markets.
Those two pipeline decisions were supposed to be made by last Friday. The delay has spurred speculation the Liberals could announce a resolution to all three outstanding pipeline bids, including Kinder Morgan’s, this week.
The election of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has also revived the potential for the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta south to Gulf Coast refineries, which the Liberals support.
“As I’ve said before, it’s an objective of the government of Canada to expand its export markets, so Keystone XL is an important proposal for Canadians and we are reviewing others,” said Carr.
Late Monday, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce announced Carr would be in the oilpatch city on Wednesday to provide “an update on market access for Canada’s energy products in a carbon-constrained world.”
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