Support for First Nations critical following Clark-Redford pipeline deal

Support for First Nations critical after Clark-Redford pipeline deal

Support for First Nations critical following Clark-Redford pipeline deal
Chiefs of the Tsimshian First Nation speak out against Enrbidge at a 2012 Prince Rupert rally

You would have thought that they would have had the decency to wait until the Joint Review Panel had made its report before the two western-most premiers made a deal on the pipelines. Of course there was no need to because the federal government that prizes “process” so much has already made it clear it wasn’t going to pay any to attention the panel unless it supports pipelines.

I wonder what my MP, Conservative John Weston thinks of this considering how he’s been so vocal about “process”, it being his constant buzzword for environmental matters. Will he stand up in the House and condemn his government and the provincial governments for cocking a snook at the “process” he praised as for the reason for gutting the protection of fish habitat?

There is no sense getting worked up about Christy Clark and Alison Redford’s pact – yet. I suspect all environmentalists will condemn this cynical bit of business, where BC trades its environment for pipelines. I can assure you that The Common Sense Canadian will do so and will keep it up as long as necessary.

What is more important now is support for First Nations as they formulate their battle plan and thereafter.

One can never be sure of steadfastness until it is seen in action. Reading between the lines, one would have to conclude that Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and the senior governments are satisfied that they can get over this hurdle. From my meetings with leaders and working the room at conventions, I don’t believe this. First Nations leaders are politicians too and must answer to their voters. Whether those voters can – pardon the bluntness – be bought off or not remains to be seen.

If First Nations – particularly the coastal nations who have been unshakable in their resolve – maintain their position hitherto, it will obviously do very little good to the governments and corporations who have to ship their grisly product once they get it to the coast.

I’m too damned old to be shocked or surprised at what a government or company will do for a vote or some money.

I don’t know what my colleagues in the environmental movement will do – I suspect we will know soon.

For me, this creaky crock will fight these pipelines and tankers as long as he has the breath to do so.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

13 thoughts on “Support for First Nations critical after Clark-Redford pipeline deal

  1. Good comments Lennox. These guys talk about supporting the Indians. I don’t know how much support they need. They are against every kind of progress until the money is right for them.
    These Anti pipeliners should be mindful that if Northern Gateway should not go through, the oil will still get to the coast be it by pipeline or C.N. RAIL. Take your pick

  2. For First Nation’s this battle against our governments and companies like Enbridge, is not just about their children’s future, it is very much about there ancestors past heroic efforts for them.

    First Nations in Canada and especially here in ‘British’ Columbia have, for at least ten thousand years and probably much longer, done a damn good job of passing on to future generations the same remarkably pristine and bountiful environment they inherited and cared for over millennia.

    Current First Nations have a sacred duty to ensure that their history dictates their future and that of generations to come and that demands the preservation and integrity of their physical environment.

    Our short stay with these wonderfully accepting cultures has not been as good as it should have and our future here will be just as brief, but they will endure and continue to thrive in spite of the current assaults on their character and their lands.

    Nothing in our lives will hold us in greater stead than to join with them and do everything in our power and ability to thwart the evil that has presently engulfed us all.

    For them and for us and many generations to come, this is a war we must win no matter the personal consequence.

    We stop the intruders now and the rest of the world will be emboldened to fight back against this real and present danger, and because of them we will make the world, once again, a better place.

  3. I just had an idea: why don’t you all irrationally fearful people who no doubt would have stopped all human exploration and progressive activity stop using oil-based products. That would lower the demand for oil so much that we may not need to worry about more pipelines. We could have such a safe world — although without most of our daily needs. Maybe we could all go back to the stone age with the natives. I understand hunting and fishing are very safe and easy on the environment. Here is a partial list of oil-based products for your information:
    ammonia, anesthetics, antifreeze, antihistamines, antiseptics, artificial limbs, artificial turf, aspirin, awnings, balloons, ballpoint pens, bandages, basketballs, bearing grease, bicycle tires, boats, cameras, candles, car battery cases, car enamel, cassettes, caulking, cd player, cd’s, cold cream, combs, cortisone, crayons, curtains, dashboards, denture adhesive, dentures, deodorant, detergents, dice, diesel, dishes, dishwasher, drinking cups, dyes, electric blankets, electrician’s tape, enamel, epoxy, eyeglasses, fan belts, faucet washers, fertilizers, fishing boots, fishing lures, fishing rods, floor wax, folding doors, food preservatives, football cleats, football helmets, footballs, gasoline, glycerin, golf bags, golf balls, guitar strings, hair coloring, hair curlers, hand lotion, heart valves, house paint, ice chests, ice cube trays, AND ON AND ON through ink to lipstick to motor oil to paint to refrigerant to rubber cement to shampoo and shaving cream to shoe polish to soap to soft contact lenses to solvents to synthetic rubber to telephones to tires to toilet seats to toothpaste to trash bags to umbrellas to vitamin capsules to water pipes to wax paper to yarn.

    Second list found on

    1. Come on, Lennox – that old saw? No one who uses fossil fuels has the right to question our society’s dependence on fossil fuels? That conveniently means nothing will ever change – we’re doomed to remain trapped on the same old hamster wheel.

      I don’t think so.

  4. It is completely outrageous to say we are “trading environment for pipelines”. We can have both. We are innovative and inventive and we can take the steps to make sure the environment is not compromised. What the so-called environmentalists are doing is fear-mongering (and incorrectly calling the oil sands “tar sands”) and the first nations are only looking for leverage in their own best interests.

    1. Nothing outrageous whatsoever about Rafe’s contention, Lennox. The evidence is that leaks are a fact of life with pipelines:

      You clearly know nothing of BC’s northern landscape either. If we can’t get to and clean up spills in densely populated, easy-to-access places like Battle Creek, Michigan (home of Enbridge’s Kalamazoo disaster), then how the hell are we supposed to get to a spill deep the Rockies or Coast Range in the middle of winter, before it’s ruined our salmon rivers?!

      What’s really scary is that Enbridge propagates your naive view of this province and the real risks posed by its pipelines – as evidenced by its laughable animations depicting the pipeline and tanker route, making islands disappear, smoothing over our rugged topography:

      It is quite fair to posit this as a decision between two very different futures for BC: one as a carbon corridor to Asia, the other as “Supernatural BC”, with our $13.4 Billion tourism economy (absolutely dwarfing even the wildest-eyed promises of economic benefits from Enbridge and Kinder Morgan).

      Finally, we call them Tar Sands, because the term is a more accurate depiction of what is actually bitumen (NOT OIL), than the term “oil”. You are incorrect when you call them oil sands. They are a tar-like substance called bitumen – which, going back to the root of this conversation, is far harder to clean up when you do inevitably have spills. Just ask the people of Michigan.

      I’ll take the future of my province that doesn’t involve it becoming a doormat for fossil fuel transmission to other markets.

  5. The governments (BC, Alberta and federal) need to understand that we have had enough of them wasting our tax dollars with these PR exercises on the sideline of the formal process. If as numerous commentators say that this pipeline will not be built then we need to focus our energies on all the other environmental issues we are faced with (LNG, logging, loss of biodiversity, ALC, wild salmon, etc.).

    As Rafe says, we need to support the FNs. Do you have any concrete suggestions as to how we can do so?

  6. As one “old crock” to another, this is a battle that must in some way be joined.
    This relentless extraction of “resources” at all costs will have consequences beyond our ability to imagine.
    My wife and I have never thought of ourselves as “environmentalists”
    but on the issue of tar sands oil & the shipment of same, we stand solidly behind the real leadership shown by First Nations Elders.
    At a rally last fall at the Legislature, when one of these elders asked “Who will stand in front of the machinery, if necessary”, a thunderous reply of “We will” echoed loud enough that even our sorry excuses for elected representatives should have heard. They will ignore that reply to their peril.

    1. What A Beautiful Tribute In Understanding The Implications If The Government Does Not Stop It Is A Battle That Must Be Won For Our Future Generations

  7. this creaky old crock will fight tooth and nail against these disgusting excuses for humanity..clark/redford/ holden, spokeswoman for the enbridge county fair saying on cbc yesterday that she had 60 percent of the coastal nations with her. hmmm.
    keep up the good fight mr. mair. we’re all here behind you. this is a war and its not going away.

    1. As you well know, Nadene, Enbridge has no credibility on this subject. They’ve been claiming First Nations support for years and the lone deal they publicly announced with Gitxsan turned out to be a fraud perpetrated by rogue treaty negotiator Elmer Derrick and was promptly ripped up by community leadership.

      I documented this same pattern of exaggerated claims of FN support a year and a half ago in these pages:

      The story hasn’t changed since.

      But I agree this is a battle that isn’t going away anytime soon – though I do not believe Enbridge ultimately will be built.

      1. Precisely Damien, Enbridge will never be built and it is very important that, like Rafe, we focus on dilbit exports over all. Do we want any such activity regardless of the shell game on pipelines? The death of one proposal is set to bring us benefits of a different proposal involving a refinery!

        That is the referendum question if you will. Do we want anything to do with Dilbit exports at all?

        Also, we need to bring the focus back onto the backroom deals being cooked up on natural gas, which the Clark Redford alliance aka TILMA NWPA is also about.

        That trade agreement impacts, labour, investment and trade… which means there will be alot of cross border influence that we have already negotiated away any leverage on. CNOOC NExen will be taking great advantage of this among others.

        The CLark Redford charade is at best a distraction, at worst an intended obfuscation targeted at BC citizens.

        Clark managed to squeek an election victory by running against Enbridge, now she has walked back that rhetoric, next is for Stephen Harper’s conservatives to use it for political leverage, and Harper will do exactly that by killing this zombie proposal once and for all.

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