The federal Export Development Corporation is weighing what a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief calls a “highly inappropriate” loan to TC Energy, the company behind the contested Coastal GasLink pipeline, to help the company push the 670-kilometre project through unceded Indigenous land.
“It’s important to note that EDC is considering providing a loan in the form of project financing to Coastal GasLink and would not be ‘investing’ in the project,” said EDC spokesperson Jessica Drake, in an email to the Toronto Star. “EDC does not provide grants or subsidies.”
She added “that the credit agency couldn’t comment on its potential financing decision before an agreement is signed,” the Star writes. “The agency posts transactions under consideration on its website at least 30 days before striking a deal, she said. The financing of Coastal GasLink was posted January 27.”
The news comes “as the federal government grapples with the fallout of rail blockades that have choked the flow of goods and train passengers across much of the country, as CN Rail and VIA collectively announce they will lay off 1,500 as traffic is stalled,” the paper adds. “The dispute erupted earlier this month after Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested demonstrators blocking construction crews from working on the Coastal GasLink.”
“It is highly inappropriate at this time,” said hereditary chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), after hearing from the Star that the EDC is considering the loan. “When we’re supposed to have discussions and then for them to put this out—it’s almost like they’re trying another avenue to ensure that the public believes that this will happen when we’re adamantly opposed to it.”
Ryan Nearing, press secretary and regional advisor to International Trade Minister Mary Ng, told the Star the EDC is a “self-financing” Crown corporation that “operates at arms-length” from the government. “He did not answer questions about the appropriateness of the Crown corporation’s potential financial support of the Coastal GasLink as the government tries to resolve disputes with opponents of the project,” the Star states.
It’s not the first time the EDC’s decisions have appeared to strongly favour fossil industry development over carbon-free financing opportunities. Recent news reports have the agency placing $500 million in green bonds but leaving another $1 billion untouched, investing 12 times as much in fossil projects as it did in clean technology between 2012 and 2017, and being called out for poor disclosure and environmental and human rights violations on the projects it supports.