Evidence of meeting #80 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

Peter Lantin  President, Council of the Haida Nation
Marilyn Slett  Chief, Heiltsuk Nation
Reg Moody-Humchitt  Assistant Negotiator, Gladstone Reconciliation Office, Heiltsuk Nation
Chief Stewart Phillip  President, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Cameron Hill  Elected Councillor, Gitga'at First Nation

4:05 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

I think maybe the best thing to look at is that we've been working for two years now on a revised places of refuge contingency plan. Prior to the Simushir incident, we had no knowledge of shipping. Our focus was on the land base. Prior to our involvement in shipping, there were 12 designated places of refuge in and around Haida Gwaii that had no input from the Haida. We weren't part of that decision-making whatsoever. We have acknowledged that where we're situated does require that we need to be available in case of emergency. Over the last two years, we've worked on that revised places of refuge contingency plan. We've removed the number of places of refuge quite significantly, but the whole point is that we're involved in it and we're involved in the decision-making about where those vessels can go and under what circumstances. I think it shows a reasonableness by the Haida Nation that we're not talking about keeping everybody off no matter what. If there are emergencies that may impact the loss of life, absolutely we're going to be part of trying to ensure that people are safe. Ministerial exemptions would qualify under the same thing.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

One of the other issues that you mentioned was that you think Bill C-48 should extend to a transport ban and not just the loading and unloading at ports. One of the issues that was raised by a witness we heard previously was that there's a certain legal difficulty because there are disputed waters between Canada and the United States. Certainly, the U.S. would take the view that we wouldn't have jurisdiction to regulate in this area where there is currently the voluntary ban. Is there a workaround that you see around this potential difficulty of legislating in disputed waters that another nation lays claim to?

4:10 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

I can speak about Canada. The Haida Nation has an active title case right now, for which we're preparing to go to court. Part of the workaround is to work with our neighbouring nations that share the water with us and to ensure that we have understanding around where the lines are drawn for the sake of our title case.

The Haida Nation also has American cousins who reside up in the U.S. They're called the Kaigani Haida. They originated from Haida Gwaii and moved there quite some time ago. There are political discussions happening right now around this conversation. That hasn't really materialized yet, but there is that lively conversation right now.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Now this is to both witnesses.

We heard from CN Rail and a company called InnoTech about an innovative design they have—essentially in case some of the products that could otherwise be excluded by the ban—inside a capsule, more or less. It looks a little bit like a hockey puck. It's called CanaPux. If there are technological developments like this that could be transported, where the product can actually float, for example, and could be picked up in the water—apparently, according to the witnesses, it wouldn't break down by sitting in water—with developments like that, would you be open in the future to allowing that kind of product to travel? Is this still a deal-breaker from your perspective?

4:10 p.m.

Chief, Heiltsuk Nation

Chief Marilyn Slett

For Heiltsuk, we can't comment on any new technology at the moment, until we have more time to get more information about it and be able to make an informed decision around that new technology you're referring to.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Lantin, do you have thoughts on that issue?

4:10 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

It would be more along the same lines. It seems very forward-thinking, and we're talking about today and what the needs are for today. If the technology's moving down a road where they can ensure the safe transport of materials, then absolutely we would be very interested in knowing more about that.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

A final question, Mr. Lantin, since I still have you. One issue that's obviously posing some tension—it's not lost on me that I come from a different part of the country and a completely different culture—is that the concept of consultation and consent is difficult here, where different first nations disagree. In your opinion, where there are diverging opinions in different indigenous communities, how do we achieve consent? I recognize that this an impossible question to answer in a minute, but any thoughts on that issue would be greatly appreciated.

4:10 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

It's kind of fitting that we're sitting here with the Heiltsuk Nation. We have an old peace treaty with the Heiltsuk Nation that has now been brought into a modern context in the last couple of years. There's a lot of nation-to-nation reconciliation work that's also taking place. We need more of it.

Actually, we've been active around some of the Tsimshian nations that have been more supportive of the transportation of oil and crude, and trying to get in front of them to have a conversation about how it affects us. Right now, that level of consultation is not taking place. They're not proactively going out there and engaging us, because they know the answer. That's just the harsh reality of it. It doesn't mean that we leave it there. We're the ones who are trying to put the ill feelings aside and offering to sit down and talk from both our nations' perspectives about where we're coming from and what's best, because that conversation has not happened.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

Mr. Badawey.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair. I have to say that from the past few sessions we've held on Bill C-48, one of the biggest concerns that has been brought to my attention is the impact on economic development for individual areas. I'm going to try to concentrate on those areas.

As evidence was presented to the committee, witnesses from Aboriginal Equity Partners and the Eagle Spirit Energy Chiefs Council expressed great concern about the high rates of poverty in many first nations communities. In their view, the proposed moratorium would deprive their communities of the economic benefit offered by the oil transportation projects, and undermine their efforts to become more prosperous and less dependent on federal government, or any level of government support for that matter.

My question to the folks here today presenting is, one, what are the main barriers to economic development in your community? What are you facing presently? Two, what role, if any, do you consider economic diversification to play in securing the future economic well-being of British Columbia's first nations communities?

4:15 p.m.

Chief, Heiltsuk Nation

Chief Marilyn Slett

Definitely from the Heiltsuk perspective, we've been impacted by the Nathan E. Stewart running aground in October of 2016. Our clam fishermen didn't make it out last year to go out and harvest. That impacted their income for the rest of the year, and they depend on that clam fishery.

What the future holds is uncertain. To have the communities bear the risk to their own economies is too much to bear. We certainly are not anti-development, but look at what kinds of sustainable development we can practise here.

4:15 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

I think the Haida Nation believes that the whole perspective feels like fearmongering in the sense that somehow these economic opportunities are going to change hundreds of years of colonialism, the Indian Act, and residential school experiences that have really been at the core of what's happening in our communities. Our people rely on their culture, their language, and their harvesting. That's who we are, so the proposition of putting these ships through our territory and putting those things at risk will truly destroy us.

What we have right now is a foundation of our strong, revitalizing culture. We're seeing a shift on Haida Gwaii of us coming back. For us it's been more about trying to take control of our resources and do it sustainably. It's the same thing if you look at our history around logging and things like that. We were never anti-logging. It's all about doing a thing sustainably and responsibly. Right now we set the allowable annual cut on Haida Gwaii as an example to show you that we understand there's a balance to be made here.

I think the politics are making it an unreasonable environment in which to say that we are averse to those things. We can't put the risk just on us. The thing about the people spearheading those kinds of projects is that it's fine for them to say it's going to end poverty and change their communities, but if anything goes wrong, it's coming through my backyard, and we just can't accept that.

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Negotiator, Gladstone Reconciliation Office, Heiltsuk Nation

Reg Moody-Humchitt

I just want to say that Chief Slett in council in work that.... I used to sit on the Central Coast Regional District. We did a lot of work with the ferry, and it was just announced recently that we were going to get a ferry to service the central coast. It's still not what we wanted, but I think that, since the cutback to the Queen of Chilliwack, it took a lot of tourists off the map. I think tourism is still probably one of the top three industries in B.C., but aboriginal tourism is one of the most untapped, and I think we have plans for that. The band does have a 15-year economic development plan.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

I appreciate those answers.

I have two more questions with respect to the comments that were made earlier about relying on your culture and, of course, sustaining that culture with respect to developing the economy. Although there's a moratorium—and there has been since 1985 on a voluntary basis—on carrying oil into the area, do you think sustaining your culture with respect to your development of the economy, from the past into the future, and of course other products that these vessels may in fact carry, would suffice for the future economy and jobs creation for your communities?

4:15 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

I am not sure I truly understand the question.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Essentially, you mentioned the fact that you want to rely on your culture with respect to developing your economy and/or sustaining that culture to further develop your economy. Do you find that, as well as other products, the ships that are going to be carrying into the area will in fact help develop your economy?

4:15 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

We don't know. Right now, if you look at the history of shipping in and around Haida Gwaii, it has never involved us. There's been no consultation around what we think about these things. There's been no talk about anything around economics. There's zero reference point on Haida Gwaii about what the economic impact could be for Haida Gwaii, because it's never been done. Nobody has ever cared about us.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

That's a good point, and that's something I think we have to attach ourselves to.

Thank you.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

We are on to Mr. Lobb.

November 7th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Thank you very much.

For a bill such as C-48 to even reach the floor of the House of Commons, does consultation need to take place with affected communities such as yours, or can the government of the day bypass true consultation on a bill like this? What are your beliefs?

Either one of you can go ahead.

4:20 p.m.

Chief, Heiltsuk Nation

Chief Marilyn Slett

I have certainly shared that we want to see this bill passed, and we have shared with you that we would like to see consultation around the regulations of the bill with our communities. Certainly the position we have is, if we can support something that is going to protect our marine waterways and our communities, we will support it. As well, we will and we have set out in our brief, some of our answers that we also see that connected with further consultation on what those regulations will look like.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Lantin.

4:20 p.m.

President, Council of the Haida Nation

Peter Lantin

Consultation is called the Haida decision. On Haida Gwaii we're very attuned to what that means. I think sometimes it gets construed that if it's a good thing you don't need to consult with people. I think there is that general sense around this bill, but now the consultation is happening, and our position today is based on how much further we think the bill could be improved.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Fair enough. You can be for or against Bill C-48 and still have some legitimate comments about the consultation regarding when it should take place.

It seems to me that further consultation might have taken place on the schedule itself. You mentioned in your comments that diesel fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, and so on will be allowed. If I know industry, the tankers that will carry diesel fuel, for example, are going to start to get a whole lot bigger.

I understand that you want to have comments and consultation on the regulation of it all, but shouldn't that all be put in the bill itself? When it's presented in an upfront way, a transparent way, you can have your comments beforehand on diesel and the fact that it's going to be unlimited. What are your thoughts on that?