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Mi’kmaq woman asks Trudeau about Kinder Morgan pipeline at town hall in Halifax

Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles tweeted this from the town hall meeting in Halifax yesterday evening.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s town hall tour was in Halifax last night.

The Canadian Press reports, “The tone was largely friendly until one woman asked about green energy. ‘That oil has to stay in the ground’, said a woman who identified herself as Mi’kmaq. ‘Why do you guys constantly bring up all these oil pipelines?’ Trudeau told the woman that we are ‘going to have to agree to disagree on the issue’.”

The article continues, “As he tried to say that 39 indigenous communities in Western Canada are supportive of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he was interrupted by the word ‘lies’. Trudeau stopped in his tracks and asked for respect. ‘A little respect please, I’m giving you as much respect as I can and I’m asking for the respect back’, Trudeau said.”

But the truth is that of the 120 First Nations along the pipeline route, only 39 have issued letters of support for the project. The company has not secured the consent of two-thirds of potentially impacted Indigenous nations.

In addition, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory includes the lands and waters surrounding the Burrard Inlet where Kinder Morgan would export bitumen in about 400 tankers a year, will be holding a media conference this morning about moving forward with their legal challenge against the pipeline.

Furthermore, the Council of Canadians calls on the prime minister to respect Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 19 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.”

The Trudeau government announced in May 2016 that it fully endorses UNDRIP, but after it approved the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, federal natural resources minister Jim Carr avoided recognition of the need for consent.

Carr has stated, “Well, we believe that to meaningfully consult and accommodate indigenous peoples in the context of these energy reviews is the principal responsibility of the Government of Canada. That’s what we have done, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.” That’s not good enough. While Canadian law only requires “duty to consult and accommodate” UNDRIP means “free, prior and informed consent”.

Another Canadian Press article this morning now reports, “Trudeau carries on his cross-country series of town halls today in New Brunswick, with stops in three communities after drawing a large crowd in Halifax on Monday. Trudeau’s day will begin at an open forum in Fredericton hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and MP Matt Decourcey. The chamber was asking people to confirm their attendance ahead of the event, but CEO Krista Ross says they had to close registrations Monday morning.”

Members of our Fredericton and Saint John chapters are at this moment sitting in the front row of this town hall waiting to ask Trudeau questions.

After Fredericton, Trudeau will travel to Saint John and Sherbrooke, Quebec today.

Our Quinte and Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter attended Trudeau’s town hall meetings in Belleville and Peterborough to demonstrate their support for proportional representation.