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Deal reached in northern British Columbia pipeline impasse

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SMITHERS, B.C. — Hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have reached a deal with the RCMP to allow a natural gas company access across a bridge that had been blocked in their territory.
Following several hours of meetings, Chief Na’Moks tol…


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  • SMITHERS, B.C. — Hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have reached a deal with the RCMP to allow a natural gas company access across a bridge that had been blocked in their territory.

    Following several hours of meetings, Chief Na’Moks told reporters Thursday that the agreement is between the chiefs and the RCMP to ensure the safety of the First Nation’s members after 14 arrests were made on Monday when a court injunction was enforced by police.

    He said representatives from Coastal GasLink were invited to the meeting to ensure they are on the same page, but emphasized it is not a deal with the company and the hereditary chiefs are opposed to a pipeline project planned on their territory by the company.

    “One of the barriers will be taken down, but that does not mean we support this project,” he said.

    “It must be reiterated, we are adamantly opposed to this proposed project and that will never change, but we are here to ensure the safety of our people.”

    Coastal GasLink president Rick Gateman said the company can do its work as a result of the meeting.

    “I can say that our discussions were extremely respectful and extremely productive. As a result of these discussions we have worked out many of the details that are required for us to have free access across the bridge and beyond,” Gateman told reporters.

    “We look forward to future dialogue and continuing this relationship.”

    According to the agreement, Na’Moks says company workers will be allowed across a bridge and the RCMP will also remove a roadblock that was preventing some members of the nation from accessing a Unist’ot’en healing camp near the bridge.

    He says members of the First Nation will not face arrest and the Unist’ot’en camp will remain intact.

    The agreement applies to an interim court injunction, which is meant to prevent anyone from impeding the company’s work until the defendants, which include members of the Unist’ot’en camp, file a response.

    The agreement was reached Thursday at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a day after the chiefs announced a tentative deal would see members of the First Nation observe the injunction by allowing Coastal GasLink workers and contractors access to a work site where the natural gas pipeline is planned.

    On Wednesday, residents of the healing camp said they were “reeling” from the situation and had asked that a gate that they see as vital to their safety remain intact.

    Na’Moks said a metal gate will remain, but a wooden gate will be removed. It is too wide for the bridge and constitutes an obstruction, he added.

    When the RCMP enforced the injunction they also dismantled a nearby checkpoint erected by members of the Wet’suwet’en, who say the company does not have authority to work on their territory without consent from the nation’s hereditary clan chiefs.

    TransCanada Corp. says it has signed benefit sharing agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the pipeline route. Its Coastal GasLink pipeline would run though the Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40 billion export terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

    In Kamloops on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the events of this week when the injunction was enforced show the need to build a different relationship with First Nations.

    Trudeau said he was pleased tensions had eased between police and the First Nations over the pipeline on Wednesday night, and the time will come to answer questions about what was done and how it could have been handled differently.

    “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.”

    — With files from Laura Kane in Kamloops, B.C.

     

    Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

     

    Amy Smart, 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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