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

Terrace cab stolen, found destroyed along Hwy 16 riverbank at rest stop near Prince Rupert

Driver was sent to hospital after stealing the running vehicle from company lot

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Vandals cause damage estimated at $3,000

“It was just malicious, stupid, drunken behaviour” - Thwaites

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Donations pour in for family who lost father, son in fatal crash on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also led police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

‘It’s like he just vanished’: Quesnel man still missing, last seen two months ago

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Most Read