BC Chiefs say approving Petronas gas project akin to declaring war
by Mark Blackburn, APTN National News, April 19, 2016
OTTAWA — The fight over a mega gas pipeline project in British Columbia reached Ottawa Tuesday as chiefs and stakeholders opposed to the proposal shared a stage to get their message out.
“If they approve this project, I think (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) declared war on the people who are concerned about this system,” said Gerald Amos, chair of the Friends of Wild Salmon on behalf of the chiefs assembled.
Chiefs and other stakeholders from up and down the Skeena River on the B.C. interior coast south of Prince Rupert, B.C., flew to Ottawa to counter what they believe is a heavy lobby by Petronas-led Pacific Northwest Gas LNG to push the project through.
And to remind the Liberals of the promises they made before and after the election.
“What are we saying to Justin Trudeau? This is a poster child. Lela island and the Petronas project is the poster child for everything that is contained in every single letter that went out to his ministers. Climate change, greenhouse gases, relations with First Nations,” said Amos. “Everything is wrapped up in one issue in Petronas on Lela island and he has a challenge on his hands.”
Hereditary chiefs of Lelu Island, Wetsuwe’ten and Gitxsan First Nations joined other leaders to protest what they say are misleading claims of Indigenous support for the Petronas-led Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project.
A recent letter from Lax Kw’alaams’ Mayor John Helin to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna offered backing for the $36 billion LNG project on Lelu Island, south of Prince Rupert, if two conditions are met.
In a new release, Hereditary Chief Donald Wesley, a Lax Kw’alaams delegation member, says the incorrect claim of Indigenous support led to a letter from the Port Authority of Prince Rupert, threatening the eviction of protesters from traditional Lelu Island territories.
Opponents of the Pacific Northwest LNG project say it threatens Canada’s second largest wild salmon run and could undermine Canada’s climate change commitments.
The B.C. government says the project could generate more than 18,000 jobs and produce billions of dollars in revenue.
McKenna said in March that a cabinet decision on the environmental assessment should be made by late June.
The news release issued by the delegation pointed to what opponents argue is significant First Nation opposition from leaders and communities throughout northwestern British Columbia and across the province.
First Nations leaders were expected to clarify their position within the Lax Kw’alaams community in regards to Helin’s letter and address regional First Nation concerns and opposition to Pacific Northwest LNG while they are in Ottawa.