At the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, BC Premier John Horgan spoke on the Wet’suwet’en/Coastal Gas Link issue, and the role in it of his new “intermediary” liaison man, former NDP MP Nathan Cullen:
“We are confident that there is a way forward.
“I spent a day in a smokehouse feast at the request of the Wet’suwet’en Indigenous leadership, the hereditary leadership, last year. I spent a half-day session at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, and it is clear to me that there is a way forward, where dialogue can provide us a way to meet the needs of communities on either side of the Wet’suwet’en territory, and Nathan, having represented the territory on those and both sides, is well placed to do that.
“I believe that the hereditary leadership understands that nations to the left and the right of them, to the east and the west of them, see opportunity for prosperity, and to end poverty, as a result of the $40-billion private-sector (LNG Canada) investment: great jobs, great business opportunities, and for new-business startups in Indigenous communities.
“And that message is being told by people like Crystal Smith, the chief of the Haisla, and other nations across the corridor.
“I know that hereditary leadership, some of the clans in the Wet’suwet’en territory, are opposed to the pipeline, I understand that. . . . I think that, over time, dialogue will allow us to get to place where the Wet’suwet’en will see that the courts have determined, the federal government and the British Columbia government have determined, that the permits are in order, that this is a legitimate project that has massive benefits to BC. . . .
“I don’t expect the (hereditary) leadership to say tomorrow that they love the pipeline. That’s not my expectation. But there needs to be a legitimate understanding that the majority of the people in the region will benefit from this, and that’s the dialogue we’ll produce. I have met with them to say that, and I think this is my frustration with the current storyline on the injunction that was granted by the court.
“I know full well the views of the hereditary leadership. They told me directly. I don’t expect that has changed since I last met with them. So it’s important for Nathan Cullen to step in. I am hopeful that dialogue will lead to a resolution that we can all be happy with.”
That was at a news conference. Later, he spoke to 1,146 delegates at the forum, and added:
“I want to touch a little bit, of course, on the challenges that we are experiencing along the (pipeline) corridor. . . .
“The best way forward is always through dialogue. And I . . . asked former MP Nathan Cullen to work with the province, to work with Coastal GasLink, and to work with the hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en territory, to find a way forward, a peaceful resolution, to an impasse that we’re currently experiencing.
“I’m under no illusion that any minds will be changed. And I think it’s important that we start from that premise. Minds will not be changed. It is absolutely legitimate for citizens to have opposing views. . . . To find conflicts in an area of British Columbia is not a surprise. But it’s a challenge for all of us, and an opportunity, I believe, for our economy.
“I believe that LNG is an opportunity for not just northern British Columbia but, indeed, all British Columbians.
“We’re seeing economic prospects, that have been dim for the past number of years, being improved as a result of the LNG investment. Forty billion dollars, the largest private-sector investment in Canadian history.
“It’s going to lead to tremendous opportunities for communities right across the corridor, from wellhead to waterline. Thousands of people will benefit: 10,000 construction jobs, countless other businesses that will emerge from servicing the development of the pipeline and the creation of the export facility in Kitimat. . . .
“Twenty-three billion dollars of revenue will come to the Crown that can be used, distributed, through economic and social and cultural initiatives right across the province. That’s all good news.”
(Posted here 29 January 2020)