On Parliament Hill, leaders from the Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council, the Indian Resource Council, the National Coalition of Chiefs, and Canada’s Four Pipeline Craft unions voiced their opposition to Bill C-48, which would ban large oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s north coast. The chiefs argue the ban will harm economic development in Indigenous communities and kill the proposed Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline, a CAD $16-billion project with significant Indigenous ownership. The bill was passed in the House of Commons on May 8, 2018 and is currently at second reading in the Senate.
The National Chiefs Coalition said on Tuesday it would file a complaint in “coming days” under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) against the federal government. The Chiefs say the ban unfairly restricts oil exports by the First Nations group, while allowing multinational corporations to ship their products from the southern portion of the B.C. coast. “All we’re trying to do is take advantage of the resources available to us,” said former chief Wallace Fox, chairman of the Indian Resource Council, a part of the coalition.
CEO of Eagle Spirit Calvin Helin said much of the First Nations opposition to pipelines comes from Indigenous people backed by activist organizations, who claim to speak for whole communities but do not. “They’re just puppets and props for American environmental groups,” he said.
Giving in to foreign-funded radical and leftist environmentalists, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government passed Bill C-48 earlier this year, which bans oil tankers from the northern part of Vancouver island to the B.C. – Alaska border. It will further cripple Canada’s distressed energy industry, since tens of billions of dollars in investment have left the country in response to unfriendly government policy toward the energy industry specifically.
More than thirty First Nations are fighting back against Bill C-48. According to a recent report, “Indigenous-owned company called Eagle Spirit — which hopes to build a 1,500-km pipeline that would carry up to two million barrels of crude per day from near Fort McMurray to tidewater — has already launched legal action in a B.C. court to stop Bill C-48.”
On a GoFundMe page, the Chiefs Council Against Bill C-48 states, “We support the First Nations-led Eagle Spirit Energy energy corridor because it would provide real-world sustainable benefits and own-source revenue and meaningful participation for the poorest communities in Canada through a project whose outcomes cannot be duplicated by government.”
The impact of bill C-48 will devastate the Canadian energy sector. Conservative MP Randy Hoback said, “Let us not fool ourselves. This is not a tanker ban. This is to stop development in the resource sector and to stop shipping products to the West Coast. It is what the Liberals really planned to do from day one, and this bill is how they are going to achieve it. That is very disappointing. People in Western Canada just cannot understand the government … it keeps chopping off the hand that feeds it. It is so sad.”