Chief Councillor Ellis Ross (right) showing Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver the proposed Kitimat LNG site on a tour of the Douglas Channel.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaks to Kitimat area’s prospects

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver saw the Douglas Channel for the first time on a trip to Kitamaat Village on July 23.

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver saw the Douglas Channel for the first time on July 23 on a fact finding mission where he was hosted by the Haisla.

Oliver said that as LNG projects come online, it’s important that the prosperity is shared with the aboriginal community.

“My vision here is for a prosperous and secure Canada for generations to come based upon the responsible development of our natural resources.”

Oliver touted the safety precautions the federal Conservatives have put in place, which includes increasing the number of pipeline inspections by 50 per cent, doubling the number of comprehensive audits and monetary penalties which could result up to $100,000 of fines per day.

“That’s in addition to criminal penalties which could go up to a million dollars and five years in jail,” he said.

We asked him about LNG projects and if there’s a point where more projects have to be denied simply on a supply basis, but he said the government will leave it to the private sector to figure out if a project can be done.

“These are decisions made by the private sector, it’s not us telling us don’t do this project…they’re going to figure that out themselves,” he said.

The process to get an export licence from the government includes a review on the actual supply of natural gas, and whether there’s enough for everyone, including use in Canada.

The Sentinel also asked Oliver about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project, and what his response is to some beliefs that the government will push the project through regardless of the review process.

“We have a very strong interest in seeing the markets diversify, and that includes moving oil to Asia,” he said. “However, we’re not going to stomp over the regulatory process. It’s subject to regulatory review, the joint review panel will be coming to its conclusion this December. We’re waiting for what they have to say…I know people have a view of what our opinion is but we don’t offer an opinion before we hear from the regulator.”

He added that once the review is done, “At that point we’ll know more because they will have a done a comprehensive, scientific audit.”

“We don’t have a preference for one commercial project over another and we would only support projects that are going to be safe environmentally, and safe for the population. So we’re going to wait to hear on that.”