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Prime minister pleased tensions are easing at site of B.C. pipeline protest

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KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Arrests at a blockade this week show the government needs to properly engage with Indigenous Peoples and build a different relationship than it has had in the past, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Trudeau said he was pleas…


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  • KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Arrests at a blockade this week show the government needs to properly engage with Indigenous Peoples and build a different relationship than it has had in the past, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

    Trudeau said he was pleased to see tensions had eased between police and First Nations outside a construction zone for a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.

    “I know that there will be questions asked and required to answer over the coming weeks about what exactly was done, what could have been done differently,” he said at Thompson Rivers University’s industrial training and technology centre.

    It’s time to figure out how to make sure there is proper engagement with more respect when projects are built, something governments haven’t done in the past, Trudeau said.

    “I think we can all agree that is the way we need to move forward as a country, in a more respectful, more thoughtful, more engaged way. There are going to be moments when that doesn’t work out as well as it should and we’ll need to learn from those moments.

    “But there is no question that the goodwill that is shared by all Canadians who want to see better respect and partnership with Indigenous Peoples, while at the same time we make sure we are continuing to grow the economy.”

    The RCMP and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation met in Smithers, B.C., on Thursday to work on details of an agreement reached a day earlier that would allow access to crews from Coastal Gaslink to work in the area that was behind the blockade.

    The company says it has signed agreements with all the First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet’suwet’en, but non-elected hereditary chiefs in one house of the five Wet’suwet’en clans oppose the pipeline.

    The pipeline would run through the territory to Kitimat, B.C., where LNG Canada is building a $40-billion export facility.

    Trudeau said he “deeply respects” the concerns and the issues brought forward by a people on both sides of the debate.

    “The way we are doing resource development, construction, exporting of our resources is changing in this country,” he said.

    “We know we cannot do it without creating partnerships and engaging with Indigenous Peoples who are the traditional custodians of these lands, without thinking deeply about the environmental consequences and the long-term impacts of the choices we’re making.”

    At a town hall meeting in Kamloops on Wednesday night, Trudeau was interrupted and shouted down by some Indigenous people in the crowd who were angry over the arrests of 14 people on Monday.

    Trudeau said Thursday that Canada is a country where people are encouraged to speak out and share their opinions, but also to listen to one another respectfully.

    “If someone disagrees with what I’m doing or has questions about where we’re going, I want to be able to hear from them,” he said.

    Trudeau also visited a seniors centre Thursday in Kamloops where he sat and chatted with people and posed for pictures.

    Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Canadian Press NewsAlert: Canadian citizen killed in Honduras plane crash

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    TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Global Affairs is confirming that a Canadian citizen has been killed in a plane crash in Honduras.
    A spokesperson for the department says the crash happened in the Roatan Islands area.
    Stefano Maron says consular offic…


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  • TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Global Affairs is confirming that a Canadian citizen has been killed in a plane crash in Honduras.

    A spokesperson for the department says the crash happened in the Roatan Islands area.

    Stefano Maron says consular officials in the capital, Tegucigalpa, are in contact with local authorities and providing consular assistance to the victim’s family.

    Local media report that all five people who died in yesterday’s crash were foreigners.

    More coming.

    The Canadian Press


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    Environment

    ‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

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    EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging off the new government’s promised $30-million “war room” to fight criticisms of the province’s energy industry.
    “The war room makes for good theatre, but the people …


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  • EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging off the new government’s promised $30-million “war room” to fight criticisms of the province’s energy industry.

    “The war room makes for good theatre, but the people who follow this closely are going to look at this as amateur hour,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

    “Chasing environmentalists might play well politically, but it’s not actually relevant to the discussion that Alberta and Canada need to be having,” added Simon Dyer of the clean-energy think tank Pembina Institute.

    Both groups have been singled out by Kenney as examples of ones distorting the truth about the impact of the oilsands. The premier has said government staff will be tasked with responding quickly to what he calls myths and lies.

    Kenney has also promised to fund lawsuits against offending environmentalists and to call a public inquiry into the role of money from U.S. foundations.

    “Stay tuned,” Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Tuesday. “We’ll have something to talk about next week.”

    Environmental groups have already been discussing informally what the United Conservative government might have in mind and how they should react.

    “We’ve been contacted,” said Devon Page of Ecojustice, an environmental law firm. “We’ve been saying to the groups, ‘We’re here. We’ll respond and represent you as we have in the past.’

    “What we’re trying hard not to do is to do what I think the Kenney government wants, which is to get distracted.”

    Dyer and Stewart said their groups are about 85 per cent funded by Canadians. The Pembina Institute was founded in Drayton Valley, Alta., and its headquarters remain in Calgary.

    Both called the war room political posturing aimed at the party’s base.

    “A lot of the rhetoric around our work and our contribution to Alberta has been based on complete misinformation,” said Dyer, who pointed out Pembina has worked with virtually every major energy company in the province.

    Stewart called the threats a rerun of the 2012 campaign against environmental groups fuelled by the right-wing The Rebel media group and led by Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives.

    “We learned to play rope-a-dope,” said Stewart. “Stephen Harper was our best recruiter.

    “We had people contacting us saying, ‘How do I lie down in front of a bulldozer?’ We don’t usually get a lot of those calls but we were getting a lot of those calls.”

    Each group is confident in the accuracy of the facts it cites. Dyer said Pembina research has been used by investors, academics and governments.

    Stewart said the issue isn’t facts, but how they are understood. 

    “Often what it is is a disagreement over which fact is important. Industry will say, ‘We’re reducing emissions per barrel.’ We’ll say, ‘Emissions are going up.’ Both statements are true and it depends which you think is more important.”

    Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the Kenney government must tread carefully. It’s OK to defend your position, but not to threaten, she said.

    “If we’re talking about initiating lawsuits against individuals or organizations on the basis of speaking out on issues of public importance, then that raises serious problems,” she said. “Then we have a much more obvious impact and potential violation on freedom of expression.”

    The province could possibly expose itself to legal action if its statements harm a group or individual — say, by putting them at the centre of a Twitter firestorm, said an Edmonton lawyer.

    “There’s certainly some kind of moral responsibility in terms of understanding that kind of highly charged rhetoric,” said Sean Ward, who practises media law. “You have to understand the consequences that are likely to follow.”

    Ward said any cases the government funds would also be tough to win. 

    “There are a lot of available defences. It’s difficult to see that this sort of general debate they’re going to be able to shut down with defamation law.”

    Environmentalists say their response will be to avoid distraction and carry on.

    “The vast majority active in this place don’t want to go back to a high conflict, polarizing environment,” Dyer said. “We’re not interested in polarizing this debate.”

    Bob Weber, The Canadian Press




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