Alberta Premier Jason Kenney leaves after speaking to the media Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Coastal GasLink blockades a ‘dress rehearsal’ for future project fights: Kenney

He said the protests are not about Indigenous rights

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’s concerned that blockades in support of First Nations opponents to a northern British Columbia natural gas pipeline are a “dress rehearsal” for opposition to future energy projects.

Demonstrations have blocked railways, ports and bridges across the country in solidarity with hereditary chiefs fighting the Coastal GasLink project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Kenney described the protests at a Tuesday news conference as ”ecocolonialism” from southern Canadians “projecting their own fringe political agenda.”

He said the protests are not about Indigenous rights because all 20 elected First Nations band councils along the pipeline route have signed benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, however, assert title to a 22,000-square-kilometre traditional territory. They say the band council established by the Indian Act only has authority over reserve lands.

Anyone demonstrating because of the pipeline’s climate impact is hypocritical, because the line would enable countries such as China to burn liquefied natural gas from Canada instead of dirtier coal, Kenney added.

“This is not about Indigenous people. It’s not about carbon emissions. It’s about a hard-left ideology that is, frankly, opposed to the entire modern industrial economy. It’s about time that our police services demonstrated that this is a country that respects the rule of law,” the premier said.

“Allowing people to completely destabilize the lives of tens of thousands of people, costing all of us untold costs in our economy … in opposition to the express democratic wishes of First Nations is outrageous and it has to end.”

Kenney has also argued that Indigenous rights are not a valid reason to oppose the proposed Teck Frontier oilsands mine in northeastern Alberta. He reiterated in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week that 14 affected First Nations and Metis communities have signed participation agreements.

The chief of one of those communities wrote in a letter to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson that Alberta has so far done little to accommodate his First Nation’s concerns over environmental monitoring and wildlife conservation.

“While both Teck and Canada are dealing with us in good faith, we feel that Alberta has not taken its duty to consult seriously,” Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam wrote last week.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Tuesday that the United Conservative government has met with the First Nation almost a dozen times in recent months and continues to work closely with it.

He said concerns over a bison herd in the region are Ottawa’s responsibility and Alberta has already created a large wildland park for caribou.

“Chief Adam primarily seems to want to discuss money. And while I understand that it is his responsibility to drive the best deal he can for his constituents and for his band, it is also our responsibility to make sure that we work on behalf of Alberta taxpayers and move forward in a productive way for that portion of the province,” Nixon said.

VIDEO: B.C. legislature pipeline protest camp disrupts throne speech ceremonies

The federal cabinet has until the end of the month to make its decision on the $20.6-billion oilsands mine.

Kenney said in his letter to Trudeau that a rejection would have devastating consequences and would stoke western alienation.

The project is expected to emit about four million tonnes of carbon a year and operate for 40 years. Kenney said Teck has made great strides to reduce emissions per barrel.

Kenney said that in a world expected to need oil for decades — “not the fantasy land where we fuel the modern economy with pixie dust and unicorn farts” — it’s better to have a “progressive” company such as Vancouver-based Teck Resources provide it than ”OPEC dictatorships.”

READ MORE: CN Rail to shut down tracks to Prince Rupert port if northern B.C. pipeline blockade continues

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dan’s long been the man in the towing and mechanics business

Retirement brings a long tenure at McBride’s Service Station in Chemainus to an end

Leaders must put an end to protests

There is a crisis in Canada and it’s not about the climate. It’s a crisis of leadership.

Saskia and Darrel deliver high volume of Canadian content

Songs with great storylines to be featured in Chemainus performance

Inked magazine cover hopeful receiving strong local voting support

Chemainus Secondary grad and Ladysmith resident a strong contender for the top prize

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

Nanaimo woman to compete in new season of ‘Big Brother Canada’

Carol Rosher, a cancer survivor, is one of 16 houseguests appearing on reality TV show

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Blockade reroutes traffic on Pat Bay Highway

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read