The committee that monitors a United Nations convention to end racial discrimination is calling on Canada to cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Site C hydro megaproject, and the Coastal GasLink pipeline until they receive approval from all affected First Nations.
The 18-member Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination “says in a written directive last month that it is concerned by the approval and construction of the three projects without the free, prior and informed consent of impacted Indigenous groups,” The Canadian Press reports. “It also says it’s disturbed by law enforcement’s ‘forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment, and intimidation’ and ‘escalating threat of violence’ against Indigenous peoples.”
The same committee “has previously demanded a halt to Site C, which is opposed by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations in northeast British Columbia,” CP notes. “However, this marks the first time it has called for a stop to the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink projects.”
In response, the federal Crown corporation building Trans Mountain said its work is “approved and moving forward with construction safely and in respect of communities,” the news agency writes. BC Hydro traced its consultations with First Nations on Site C back to 2007 and said it had reached agreements with most of them, producing $230 million in procurement opportunities for Indigenous businesses and 400 jobs. The federal government, the RCMP, and Coastal GasLink did not respond to CP’s request for comment.
“The UN committee says it’s particularly alarmed by the reported arrest and detainment of a Secwepemc demonstrator” protesting Trans Mountain in October, CP adds. “The committee calls on Canada to immediately cease the ‘forced eviction’ of Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en people and guarantee that no force will be used against the two groups.”
In a statement, Alberta Energy Minister and former pipeline executive Sonya Savage cast the UN as “an unelected, unaccountable body that has no business criticizing Canada’s energy megaprojects,” CP writes.
“With all the injustice in the world, it’s beyond rich that the unelected, unaccountable United Nations would seemingly single out Canada—one of the greatest champions of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law,” Savage said Tuesday. “Canada’s duly elected representatives—not unaccountable international committees—are responsible for governing decisions in this country.”