Evidence of meeting #79 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was consultation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Dale Swampy  Coordinator, Aboriginal Equity Partners
Elmer Ghostkeeper  Steward, Aboriginal Equity Partners
John Helin  Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band
Margaret Rosling  General Counsel, Nisga'a Lisims Government
Corinne McKay  Secretary-Treasurer, Nisga'a Lisims Government
Eva Clayton  President, Nisga'a Lisims Government
Brian Tait  Chairperson, Nisga'a Lisims Government
Collier Azak  Chief Executive Officer, Nisga'a Lisims Government
Calvin Helin  Chairman and President, Chiefs Council, Eagle Spirit Energy
Gary Alexcee  Deputy Chief, Chiefs Council, Eagle Spirit Energy
Isaac Laboucan-Avirom  Chief, Chiefs Council, Eagle Spirit Energy

3:55 p.m.

Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band

John Helin

There are other proposed projects and entities that are coming to us now, but I'll go back to the LNG one that would have brought us $2 billion in benefits over the 40-year lifetime of the project, in just my community alone. We negotiated that in the agreement.

When you talk about consultation, the government seems to download the duty to the industry, and they had a lot of difficulty doing that with us. One of the good things that came out of that negotiation was that we got a seat at the environmental table, federally and provincially. It was the first agreement of that kind in Canada on the west coast, so there are good things that come out of these things.

When you talk about the benefits and how huge they could have been, there are other things we're looking at, but I can't speak to bitumen because I'm not an expert on it. Somebody from the oil patch would have to speak to that.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Donnelly.

November 2nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you to our guests for being here and providing testimony.

I want to speak about ministerial discretion, so I'll direct my first question to Mr. Swampy. Subclause 6(1) of Bill C-48 allows the minister, by order, to exempt identified oil tankers from the ban on any terms and for any period of time.

Subclause 6(2) says that the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply to such exemption orders, which removes requirements that such exemption orders be published and made easily available for public inspection.

Do you have any concerns about this broad ministerial power?

4 p.m.

Coordinator, Aboriginal Equity Partners

Dale Swampy

Definitely, the tanker ban moratorium and the tanker ban legislation and the conditions that apply to this legislation will inevitably put a stranglehold on all developments in northern B.C., which is probably one of the safest ports in world, one of the deepest. It will be applying to tankers that essentially have not ever had a historical record of failure.

I don't believe that the minister, as the chief and Elmer had pointed out, should have the ability to make such wide encompassing decisions on areas where it's proven that the majority of the residents in that area are first nations. Deep consultations should have occurred before there was any decision such as this. To make a decision such as this in such a wide scope is unprecedented and something that goes against everything we had hoped and Trudeau, when he was elected, had promised, which was to improve the relationships between aboriginal people and the federal government. One step to improve that would be to properly consult on a project such as this, on legislation such as this.

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you.

Chief Helin, could you talk about the type of oil spill response regime that you would like to see, or would have liked to see, in your community or communities in the northwest?

4 p.m.

Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band

John Helin

Before I was elected mayor or chief in my community, I was working with Eagle Spirit Energy, which is going to be up next. I try to make sure that I distinguish my role when I speak, because I might be in conflict.

However, what we were doing was working on a proposed project from Alberta to the coast. We got experts from Alaska, after Exxon Valdez, and what they have is considered now a world-class model for environmental issues. It's focused on prevention, not after the fact when something happens. I would point to something such as that to be in place in B.C., because right now we have nothing.

If you look at Haida Gwaii, when the freighter was foundering off Haida Gwaii, we had to wait for a tug from Alaska to come down and tow that freighter, so we have a long way to go in B.C. to be world class.

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

I have two minutes and a last question.

Mr. Ghostkeeper, you talked about the duty of the crown to meaningfully consult, section 35. I think you touched on it in a previous question. You talked about traditional land use, language, culture, lifestyle, use, and ownership. That was going to be my question.

Could you elaborate a little more on what you feel meaningful consultation is? You've added a number of things, but is there anything else you could add to that in terms of what the government should be doing to meaningfully consult?

4:05 p.m.

Steward, Aboriginal Equity Partners

Elmer Ghostkeeper

I come from a community called Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement, and I was an elected councillor. We live in the pipeline corridor that comes from Fort McMurray to Fort Saskatchewan to Redwater, Edmonton, etc. The provincial government has a consultation policy for industry to come and consult us, and we have one of our own, too. When we consult and negotiate with industry, they've done their research. They hire their own traditional land use experts, they talk to trappers, and they talk to people who are still using the land.

It's our belief that I am the land, I am nature, and I am the environment. I don't see any separation. If I'm 70% water, how much more natural can I be than that? Our world view is different than the European world view, where, somehow through their science, they see themselves as separated from water. That's not a realistic view in our minds. When we sit down and consult with them, they ask us questions like that. We've done 15 years of traditional land use studies on our own, and we share that information with them.

Sorry, Judy.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

That's okay. Thank you very much. I try not to cut anybody off.

We go on to Mr. Sikand.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'm going to pick up where you were just cut off.

First and foremost, I'd like to give you my condolences for the loss of your elder.

Could you continue to describe the relationship your communities have with the environment? I think you were already kind of on that track.

4:05 p.m.

Steward, Aboriginal Equity Partners

Elmer Ghostkeeper

We are the environment, so in our view, the way we believe life to be, we're responsible for ourselves and the environment, but we don't see a separation like a lot of people do.

I should tell you that I'm a cultural anthropologist as well as a civil engineer, but I've been a politician for many years as well. I'm currently working at the University of Alberta, and I get asked those same questions about the difference in world views, the way we view the world, the world we live in on a day-to-day basis. It's very difficult to explain that. I live on the land. I live with the land right now. I don't live in Edmonton, like some of my colleagues do. We live with the land, and so—

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

On that note, could I ask what the devastation of an oil spill would be for your communities?

4:05 p.m.

Steward, Aboriginal Equity Partners

Elmer Ghostkeeper

Through Buffalo Lake, we have a 42-inch pipe, a 36-inch pipe, and a 24-inch diluent pipe. Our people are highly trained, and now with the latest technology with smart pipe, there are silicon chips embedded in the pipe, if you read some of the latest research being done in Calgary with the pipeline association. Just when there's a crack appearing, they can spot that crack and stop it. We're familiar with the technology, but our people are also well trained to be able to handle a pipeline spill. For myself, I've never experienced a pipeline spill.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I was asking because Mr. Helin described in his testimony the dependence they have in relation to the environment. I was just kind of asking an overarching question in regard to that.

4:05 p.m.

Steward, Aboriginal Equity Partners

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I'm going to move on, because I do have to share my time.

The $2-billion economic benefit that would have come out of the pipeline, was that a calculation from a third-party accounting firm? How was that number reached?

4:10 p.m.

Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band

John Helin

I think you're addressing that to me on the LNG.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I think it was Mr. Swampy who said that.

4:10 p.m.

Coordinator, Aboriginal Equity Partners

Dale Swampy

The $2 billion was part of the negotiations that the stewards were able to get through the funding partners. There was additional consideration given to the communities, because they were going to be part owners. One billion dollars of that was going to be the procurements, the ability for the first nations to construct at least one billion dollars' worth of the construction costs of the pipe. The equity portion of it was a proposal that was forwarded by one of the first nation chiefs, who said, “If you really want this pipe, we want to be part of it, and if we're going to be part of it, we want to own it. What are you willing to give us in terms of ownership?”

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

That's where you get the 33, okay.

It may be a bit redundant, but Mr. Helin, could you quickly describe the devastation an oil spill would have on your community?

4:10 p.m.

Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band

John Helin

It would all depend, of course, on the type of oil. We live in a very sensitive environment. It depends on what you put your emphasis on. If you had a world-class model, your emphasis would be on prevention, where you'd identify those certain sensitive areas and have equipment predisposed and people trained. In Alaska they have their fishing fleet training year-round. If there's a spill of any kind, they're ready to react to it and respond to it. The equipment's already in place. I would look to something like that, which should be in place in any place in B.C., no matter what—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you. I do have to split my time at this point, but thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you for being here today.

John, I have a question for you.

Having expressed your concerns about the moratorium, can you share with us what the potential economic, social, and environmental impacts are of the moratorium on your respective communities' prosperity?

4:10 p.m.

Mayor, Lax Kw'alaams Band

John Helin

I think I would start by saying I met with the minister again this morning, and I've met with him, Minister Garneau, a couple of times just on the tanker moratorium, talking about persistent oil and what that means. I don't know what would be allowed. What does that define? If LNG is allowed, that's good. If methanol is allowed, that's good, but heavy oil is going down our coast now from Alaska. There's a tanker a day going down that coast, and we don't have anything in place to respond to that.

Like I said, it would be a huge benefit if we were allowed some form of heavy oil, whatever that is.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Badawey.