Photo by Council of Canadians supporter Lynaya Astephen
On Tuesday morning, Trudeau continued his cross-Canada tour with a stop in Fredericton for a town hall hosted by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and Fredericton riding MP Matt Decourcey.
Ron Tremblay, the Grand Chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council, greeted the assembly and put the Prime Minister’s feet to the fire, by asking him why his government seemed to be back away from the promise to implement UNDRIP, referring to previous statement by Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould that UNDRIP was not workable and couldn’t be integrated into Canadian Law.
In response, while remaining vague on implementation and how this will be done, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that his government was committed to the principles in UNDRIP. And it is something we can continue to keep him accountable to.
Yet we must remind ourselves that these statements come on the heels of his government’s approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipelines, as well as the government approval of the Woodfibre and Pacific North West LNG terminals earlier in the year, as well as approving permits for the Site C dam, all projects that have faced substantial criticism and opposition from Indigenous communities across the country. The UNDRIP includes a recognition of the principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent. In the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Canada’s 150th anniversary, we need to recognize the role that resource extraction has played in erasing the language, culture and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples.
You can hear the whole exchange between Grand Chief Ron Tremblay and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1RJIAO6hj8
And you can read more about the Wolastoq Grand Council’s position on Energy East.
Fredericton’s Council of Canadians chapter was also present to hear what he had to say and ask some questions. Mark D’Arcy, Fredericton-based Council of Canadians New Brunswick Energy East Campaigner, had an opportunity to ask a question about the inaccessible NEB Energy East hearings and the promised community meetings for 2017. Here is Mark’s full question:
My name is Mark D’Arcy and I am a member of the Council of Canadians.
Just two blocks away, here in downtown Fredericton, my wife Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy and myself are insulating the roof and walls of our 100-year-old house to European building codes that will drastically lower our heating bill and make our home more comfortable to live in both summer and winter. We have the means to finance this ourselves.
We are part of the new clean economy that is creating 7X more jobs in comparison to the same investment in oil and gas.
We hope that all homeowners across Canada could have the same opportunity through financing made possible by the Federal Government green infrastructure spending. This would allow Canadians to lower their heating bills, create local building jobs and manufacturing jobs, and at the same time fight climate change.
My question is about Energy East. Many New Brunswick and Indigenous communities along the pipeline route have no idea where this pipeline is proposed beside their rivers, bays, and towns. Despite almost a year of groups writing letters to the National Energy Board, readable maps have not been produced by TransCanada and provided to the communities. In July 2016, your Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, announced 2 additional streams of the Energy East review process, one of which promised “community meetings”.
Will your government promise that our communities along the pipeline route will get readable maps and their public meetings, allowing citizens to voice their questions, concerns, and ideas regarding Energy East, job creation, and climate change?
As expected, the Prime Minister didn’t answer his question, and we aren’t any closer to getting maps that would help local stakeholders and landowners understand where the pipeline will be buried in their community or near their rivers. The only maps that are available from TransCanada for New Brunswick are highly technical and difficult to read, or zoomed out maps so as to not be able to pinpoint the location of the pipeline route in relation to roads, landmarks or properties without technical support. One has to wonder if this is an intentional attempt by TransCanada, with the acceptance of the NEB, to complexify the participation of local residents and landowners.
This is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s full response to Mark D’Arcy’s question:
"Thank you for the question. One of the things we inherited from the previous government was a high degree of mistrust by Canadians in something that's very basic for people. Is our government protecting our future both in terms of building jobs for the future for the next generation and protecting the environment. There was a low degree of confidence and that's why turned around, we enhanced the process for pipeline approvals ensuring there's more public input, there's more engagement, there's more rigorous science, there is an approach that can reassure Canadians that instead of being a cheerleader, a booster for pipelines, you have a government that's a referee that makes sure there's a level playing field and that people can actually understand what is being proposed, what are the alternatives, and be reassured that if we do move forward that it will be in a way that is in the public interest, that does reflect a broad range of concerns.
An example of that is how we moved forward on the Kinder Morgan expansion out west. The fact is people brought up two big concerns. Is this consistent with our leadership on climate change, are we going to continue to reduce emissions even though we're building the pipeline. How do you build the pipeline and still demonstrate leadership on climate change. And that's a question we dug into and have a good answer to. We figured out the right balance to move forward on that because moving forward on the pipeline as opposed to oil by rail is actually more efficient, less polluting, much less dangerous, and because of the absolute cap on oil sands emissions that Alberta put in through its own leadership, we can fit the pipeline within a climate change reduction plan that meets our Paris targets.
The other thing people expressed concerns about is the safety of our oceans and how we're going to respond to a spill or any challenges that come up. And that's why under your great minister of fisheries and oceans Dominic LeBlanc and our Minister of Transport and others we brought in a historic oceans protection plan that will make sure our coasts are protected and whether the Bay of Fundy or the north coast off Vancouver Island our oceans are protected and that we have the capacity to respond to challenges.
So this is the balance were going on Energy East is still very much a process we're running through, as you point out, we have enhanced making sure the public understands where and how they are going to be impacted, how this is both going to create jobs and protect the environment. These are the questions people have, these are the questions that need to be answered in the process and we're pleased the process is continuing as we promised to do."
You can read more blogs about Council of Canadians interventions during Trudeau’s tour of Canada: