A statement from Chief Councillor Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation Council has outlined the key issues for his community ahead of the provincial election.
“With the provincial election campaign now entering the home stretch, it is important that all parties understand the Haisla point of view on key issues that affect everyone in the northwest – Haisla and non-Haisla,” he wrote on May 3.
The first point was his concern that the NDP party is promising to establish another environmental assessment process for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project, “albeit a B.C. process.”
He said the “Haisla Nation Council are already running a deficit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and consulting fees for participating in the federal Joint Review Panel. Our opposition to Northern Gateway is unshakeable and we will continue to fight it but it doesn’t seem right that the Haisla incur a deficit to review a project that is not in the Haisla interest.”
He goes on to say that the pipeline proposal is not supported by the NDP or Green Party either, and the BC Liberal party have their five conditions.
“There is no need for further study beyond the process underway,” he continued.
Ross’ second point is that the Haisla community is concerned by mixed messaged from the NDP on liquefied natural gas.
“Mr. [Adrian] Dix says the party supports the development of this industry, but some of his candidates have hinted at a need to slow down LNG progress. LNG is the first economic development initiative that has united First Nations from Prince George to Kitamaat and offers us the ability to manage our social problems…and lift us out of poverty – something the Indian Act and federal tax dollars have been unable to do.”
He said LNG proposals are being developed responsibly through plans and technology designed to mitigate the environmental impacts, and that the province needs a government that will commit to “the responsible and timely development of an LNG export industry.”
Ross’ final point was that the existing treaty process is “agonizingly slow and comberson,” and that meaningful progress can be made by dealing directly with the provincial government on land issues.
“The delay in reaching agreement on land issues affects regions and the province in the short and long term regardless of the condition the economy may be in,” he wrote. “It is through certainty over land that we are able to encourage sensible economic development while also abiding by Aboriginal Rights and Title case law.”
He said this approach has benefited industry and the government, pointing out that the only three LNG projects in BC with national export permits are on the Douglas Channel and on Haisla land.
“Certainty over land is good for all parties.”
He concluded, “To work and think creatively, away from the Treaty table, is what has brought us this far. This must continue no matter who becomes Premier later this month.”