Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’moks stands beside Paul Manly at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (Submitted photo)

Island MP visits Wet’suwet’en camps, calls for Coastal GasLink pipeline to be ‘revisited’

Paul Manly met with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP to talk about the ongoing situation

Paul Manly has returned from a visit to Wet’suwet’en territory and is calling on both the federal and provincial governments to take a second look at the Coast GasLink pipeline project.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP visited Wet’suwet’en with B.C. Green party interim leader Adam Olsen. Manly met with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP to better understand the situation.

RELATED: B.C. hereditary chiefs ban Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands

“It was very educational. I learned a lot about the Wet’suwet’en territory, their hereditary system, and about the current situation,” Manly said. “There are so many things that are wrong with this situation that we need to have an honest discussion about.”

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have called on B.C. Premier John Horgan to have face-to-face discussions about the Coastal GasLink project. Horgan refused to meet the chiefs on a recent tour of Northern B.C., saying he was not being disrespectful, just realistic.

“The fact that the RCMP have been sent in shows that this is a political failure on the part of the provincial and federal governments,” Manly said in a Green Party media release. “The Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chiefs provided alternative routes to Coastal GasLink that would have been acceptable to them as a pipeline corridor. Coastal GasLink decided that it did not want to take those acceptable options and instead insisted on a route that drives the pipeline through ecologically pristine and culturally important areas.”

The $6.6-billion pipeline is led by TC Energy Corporation. Once completed, the pipeline will run from Dawson Creek to a $17-billion LNG Canada plant in Kitimat. The project is $40-billion in total, and was heralded as the single largest private sector investment in the history of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018. Manly said the project will not bring an economic benefit to Canada, pointing to foreign-owned companies with stake in the project.

RELATED: Horgan, Trudeau speak on $40B LNG Canada investment in Kitimat

According to a BusinessWire report, global investment firm KKR, alongside the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCO), acquired a 65 percent equity interest in the Coastal GasLink project. KKR is making the investment primarily through a separately managed infrastructure account in partnership with the National Pension Service of Korea. AIMCO manages 31 pension, endowment, and government funds in Alberta.

LNG Canada is a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell, Petronas – a multinational Malaysian energy company, state-owned PetroChina, the Mitsubishi Corporation, and the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS).

Coastal GasLink says it anticipates 2,000 to 2,500 short-term jobs will be created by the pipeline project, and that it will employ qualified, economically competitive local contractors, and support services where possible. LNG Canada employs 500 engineers at JGC Fluor in Calgary on an engineering contract for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

According to Coastal GasLink’s website, $620 million in contract work has been awarded to Indigenous businesses for the project’s right-of-way clearing, medical, security and camp management needs, with another estimated $400 million in additional contract and employment opportunities for Indigenous and local B.C. communities during pipeline construction.

Manly claimed that LNG Canada will bring in temporary foreign workers to complete the project, and that the project will be built with Chinese steel.

LNG Canada did import steel liquefaction trains from China for the $17-billion LNG plant in Kitimat, but said the majority of the Coastal GasLink pipeline will be built with Canadian steel. LNG Canada justified the Chinese steel purchase, saying that no steel yards in Canada were large enough to manufacture the liquefaction trains needed for the project.

Manly also said that royalty payments to the B.C. government from natural gas have fallen significantly. Data from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers shows that royalties from natural gas peaked in 2006 at $1.8 billion. In 2018-19, the government collected only $164 million in royalties.

“The people of B.C. are getting robbed of this resource. We are giving it away to foreign multinationals, including state-owned corporations… British Columbian tax payers are paying for this. We’ve been sold a bill of goods on this, and it’s problematic in so many ways. I think we need to revisit this,” Manly said.

Another of Manly’s main concerns are climate impacts from the project. LNG is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, however Manly believes the fracking process to obtain the natural gas in Northern B.C. poses environmental risks.

Manly said the federal government has a role to play in the Coastal GasLink project. He has called on the Minister of Public Safety to have the RCMP stand down and not enforce the B.C. Supreme Court injunction against Wet’suwet’en, and has written to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs asking for proper negotiations between Wet’suwet’en and senior levels of government. The Green Party plans to ask the Minister of Justice to reform the injuction law that has mobilized the RCMP to Wet’suwet’en territory.

RELATED: Pipeline protesters block access to Victoria ferry in support of B.C. First Nation

Despite opposition to the pipeline, Manly believes the project will go ahead.

“They’re just going to push this through. They’re going to push the RCMP to enforce this order, and we’re going to see more of the same kind of colonial attitudes carry on with Indigenous people in this country. It’s ridiculous, and unfortunate. It speaks to the hypocrisy of implementing UNDRIP, but not having a proper dialogue with people who are directly affected by extraction projects,” Manly said.

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