Skip to content

Trudeau government sets October 2 deadline for its decision on Pacific NorthWest LNG project

Lax U’u’la

The Council of Canadians is against the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

This morning, Bloomberg reports, “[Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s government has committed to a decision by Oct. 2 and is balancing a stated desire to grow the economy with toughening environmental regulations and lowering carbon emissions. …Trudeau, speaking to reporters last month, declined to say whether he supports LNG development as part of his plan to both cut emissions and stoke economic growth. Pressed for detail, he characterized LNG as a lower-emission power source than oil or coal.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “The clock is ticking on Trudeau’s first big test on climate action. If Trudeau allows the project to proceed, it will be impossible for Canada to meet its international climate commitments. Trudeau has promised to take a leadership role in fighting climate change and transitioning Canada to a cleaner economy. The decision Trudeau makes will send a clear message about whether this government is serious about fulfilling its promise of real change from climate criminal to climate leader. Trudeau promised to make decisions based on evidence. In this case, the evidence is clear. It’s time to reject the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.”

The export facility would be located on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) near Prince Rupert on Lax Kw’alaams First Nation territory in British Columbia. The project is being led by the Malaysian state-owned company Petronas, with minority shareholders including Sinopec, the Indian Oil Corporation, and PetroleumBrunei. It would receive natural gas fracked in northeastern BC via TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project pipeline. The annual carbon pollution from the terminal and its associated upstream operations would be the equivalent of between 11.5 and 14 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. It would also require a massive amount of freshwater to operate.

Even the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) acknowledged that the project would likely contribute to climate change – specifically that it would be “high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent” – and that it would harm harbour porpoises.

The Council of Canadians first began speaking out against the Pacific NorthWest project in March 2014 by writing blogs and then with allies organizing public forums, protests, film screenings, op-eds, a speaking tour and even a “phone blitz” of federal environment minister Catherine McKenna.

During the federal government’s public comment period from February 10 to March 11, 2016, we encouraged comments against this project via this action alert that highlights the Trudeau government should reject the project and prioritize Indigenous relations, protect the salmon-fishing economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Globe and Mail has reported that more than 10,000 comments in total were submitted on this project. To read our submission to the CEAA by Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer AJ Klein and water campaigner Emma Lui, please click here.

We have also repeatedly supported opposition from the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation to the building of this terminal on their territory.

In November 2015, we signed on to this open letter written by Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) calling on Trudeau and McKenna to reject the terminal and to cancel ongoing test-drilling at the site. In his letter Chief Yahaan wrote, “We ask that you respect the decision of our nation to say no to this project. We ask that you work with First Nations to find projects that are truly responsible and sustainable, and that do not threaten the very resources and landscapes that define us all.”

To read Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape’s first-hand account of her November 2015 visit with Chief Yahaan at a camp on Lax U’u’la established to oppose the LNG terminal, please click here.

In a January 2016 op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press, DePape and Council of Canadians Winnipeg chapter activist Jobb Arnold also highlighted the threat the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision poses to Indigenous peoples defending the land, water and future generations.

They noted, “This could affect the First Nations on Lelu Island, B.C. There, the battle is against Petronas, a company that wants to exploit liquefied natural gas. It’s not just the land and water but also the fishing economy at stake for future generations. Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Petronas, a Malaysian company, could sue the Canadian government if it were to limit LNG exploitation on the island [at some point in the future]. In this way, the TPP gives multinational corporations more power and grassroots land-defenders less. It takes power away from states and puts pressure on them to side with resource-development corporations, rather than land defenders, for fear of being sued.”

With the decision to be made on October 2, The Council of Canadians once again calls on Trudeau and McKenna to reject the Pacific NorthWest LNG project given it violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and its negative impact on climate change, salmon and harbour porpoises.

It’s not too late to send your message to the Prime Minister to express your opposition to the project via this “Contact the Prime Minister” online form.