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Barlow says Muskrat Falls dam violates UNDRIP

Liberal MP Yvonne Jones has now asked federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc to review the federal permit for the Muskrat Falls dam project.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has tweeted, “Trudeau government should honour it’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and stop Muskrat Falls!”

Barlow also recently stated, “When the Innu and Inuit oppose something like Muskrat Falls we oppose it with them.”

VOCM reports, “The flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir over protest of locals may be violating a UN declaration Canada only agreed to last May. Barlow says the relationship between governments and the rights of indigenous people to their lands has changed even since the beginning of the Muskrat Falls project, and that moving ahead in this way may have international legal implications. She says as recently as last May the Trudeau government agreed to the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) which requires prior informed consent before anything like the flooding of the area this can go ahead.”

Article 19 of UNDRIP says, “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous Peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” UNDRIP also says that Indigenous peoples have the “right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories” and “the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands”.

The Muskrat Falls dam violates all three of these rights.

APTN now reports, “Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc is considering a request for a review of a federal permit issued for the [the Muskrat Falls project], says Yvonne Jones, parliamentary secretary of Indigenous affairs. Jones, who is also the Liberal MP for Labrador, said she recently asked LeBlanc to review the issuing of the federal permit by his department to Nalcor, the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation behind the [dam]. ‘I have asked the minister to do a review of the environmental conditions that were supposed to be met when a permit was issued by the federal government’, said Jones [on Monday].”

The Muskrat Falls hydro-electric dam project would see two large dams – a 32-metre high north dam and a 29-metre south dam – on the lower Churchill River in Labrador. The dams are being built on Innu lands and would severely impact Inuit peoples. In 2012, the federal government provided a loan guarantee of $6.4 billion to enable the project to proceed. It also removed federal oversight of the Churchill River in their Navigation Protection Act. If not stopped, the dam will flood 41 square kilometres and establish a 100 square kilometre reservoir.

The parliamentary secretary of Indigenous affairs says she expects a response from the federal Fisheries minister within the next few days. His answer will need to come soon. Yesterday afternoon officials began the impoundment of the Muskrat Falls dam reservoir with water levels now expected to rise by about half a metre to one metre a day. The water levels will rise to 39 metres by 2019. If not stopped, the dam will flood 41 square kilometres and establish a 100 square kilometre reservoir.

The Council of Canadians has stated that the federal and provincial government can only proceed with the flooding once Indigenous peoples have their given free, prior and informed consent.  We have long supported the endorsement and implementation of UNDRIP, which also has major implications for the Alton Gas Storage Project, the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, the Site C dam, and the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines. While the Trudeau government promised to implement UNDRIP in May, by July federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said it was “unworkable” to incorporate it into Canadian law.

#StopMuskratFalls #MakeMuskratRight #EveryLakeEveryRiver