Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lectured a Trans Mountain pipeline opponent on respect and “process” yesterday, in an unscripted exchange during the Assembly of First Nations special chiefs’ assembly in Ottawa.
In a statement from the floor, Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band applauded the federal government’s work in other areas, but asked why the government failed to apply the principles of self-determination and consent with all the communities along the pipeline route.
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“There was no consent on that, and you can’t count a few [impact benefit agreements] that you’ve done with some of the communities as consent, because it’s the proper title-holders of those nations that hold the title,” she said. “It’s the bands that might have been under duress—or whatever reasons they did that—but it’s not a proper process at all.”
“I appreciate those words very much, Judy, thank you,” Trudeau responded, but “I would be careful about minimizing or ascribing reasons for people who take positions that disagree with you.
“I think there are lots of reasons, and I think we should respect people’s choices to support or not support different projects, and I don’t think we should be criticizing them, just because they disagree with you, Judy.”
National Observer reports applause from participants for Wilson’s question, a quieter room for Trudeau’s response. He told the conference the controversial project is a “process”, and “the process of respect and partnership means engaging in real, substantive conversations, listening to concerns, and responding to those concerns.”
Observer says Trudeau drew a distinction between unanimous and majority support for decisions, with comments that “provoked laughter” from the AFN assembly. “I am prime minister not because 100% of people in this country voted for me—that’s what happens in North Korea,” he said.
Closer to home, “we know the only way to move forward as a country on resource projects, big and small…is in true and genuine partnership with Indigenous peoples. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to get everyone to agree all the time. I know the AFN manages to get everyone to agree all the time on all sorts of things.” That latter comment earned a laugh, as well, writes Observer’s Carl Meyer.
Our prime minister’s condescension is rude and belittling. He has not listened to First Nations’ people about the realities a pipeline spill, or what spill from a tanker will do to our coastlines and communities, the sea life which coastal communities depend on, and the impact on communities, ecosystems and wildlife along the pipeline route. The Tar Sands is the dirtiest oil extraction project in the world. It’s poisoning the Athabasca River, causing cancer in Indigenous communities downstream of the Tar Sands and killing wildlife that these communities rely on for food. The air is polluted, the water is unfit for drinking or cooking, washing or bathing, it’s killing wildlife along the rivers and killing fish and other aquatic life in the rivers.
The Tar Sands is so large it can be seen from space. We know bitumen is toxic, and it takes caustic chemicals to extract it from the sands. Yet big business, including the Alberta and the Canadian governments are pushing the continued extraction of toxic bitumen at the exclusion of the rights of Indigenous people, other local communities, water and air quality and the fact that bitumen is a toxic, highly flammable substance that is heating our atmosphere when burned.
I urge everyone to speak up loudly against the continuing extraction of Tar Sands bitumen, and stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Apart from air quality, the pipeline will be twinned, it is a whole new pipeline, eating up a lot of land along the route, then coming straight through the city of Burnaby, where forested land set aside for posterity as a quiet green space and buffer zone from the noise of industry and traffic. Trudeau doesn’t care. Digging there to install another bigger pipeline than what Burnaby currently uses, will cause huge disruption along the pipeline route through Burnaby. The Tank Farm will be increased in size dramatically to accommodate the increase in bitumen flow, so more tanks will be built with inadequate space around them. Should one tank explode, the rest will quickly follow. Billowing clouds of smoke will rise up Burnaby Mountain, shrouding it in toxic black smoke. There will be pandemonium, with people trying to drive down the mountain, and people trying to flee in their cars from the elementary school just 5 blocks from the tank farm, and their homes. Over 40,000 people live, work or study at Simon Fraser University. Many will perish in the crush to leave the Burnaby Mountain. An explosion at the tank farm will be a disaster of huge proportions. What should we do? Close down an important, well respected university to protect students, professors and staff from getting poisoned from toxic smoke, maimed or killed from fumes and smoke inhalation? I beg you all to look at the facts, and do some REAL SCIENCE HERE. This tank farm is just 5 blocks from an elementary school. There are dozens of condominiums in the neighbourhood, as well as housing co-ops and single family homes. These people have no where to go now…their property values will drop dramatically, and in the case of a horrendous explosion, the mountainside will become an inferno. There is no sane way to proceed except to stop the pipeline.
If the transport of oil doesn’t harm you, an oil spill and or fire at the tank farm, or an explosions or leak while loading or while navigating through Burrard Inlet or the Salish Sea will. A spill or explosion will have dire consequences to both human and animal life.
I VOTE AN ADAMANT NO for the KINDER MORGAN PIPELINE EXPANSION! How about you?
Justin Trudeau & Donald Trump by pushing Keystone Pipeline are both Rapist criminals against Mother Nature, America& Canada and against humanity & this planet.
Luke Fontana President of Save OUR Wetlands Inc