Alberta treaty chiefs rescind support for Bill C-69

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

The Alberta Assembly of Treaty Chiefs has rescinded a resolution passed late last year that had supported the federal government’s controversial Bill C-69, which would dramatically alter the way source projects are assessed and approved.

Alberta Nations are pushing back over expected negative impacts of Bill C-69 on their economic development and self-determination, particularly as a result of weakened investment in the energy sector, according to a statement Monday.

"We want a strong resource industry so that our Nations can continue to expand our investments in, and benefits from, development – as employees, as partners and as owners. The prosperity of our nations is closely tied to the prosperity of the energy industry, especially in Alberta," said Stephen Buffalo, President of the Indian Resource Council.

According to Indian Oil and Gas Canada figures, royalty monies for 39 oil-producing nations have fallen by $200 million annually since 2012, resulting in a loss of over $18,000 per on-reserve family of six, per year.

"Bill C-69 has not yet passed but we are already suffering its consequences. The lack of pipeline capacity and investment have caused a huge price differential for the Blood Tribe's oil and gas development,” said Chief Roy Fox of the Kanai Blood Tribe.

“I don't care much when leaders and lawyers say the bill is actually good for us as First Nations. Not in the real world it isn't. Not for the Blood Tribe."

While many Chiefs expressed support for improved environmental measures in the legislation, a clearer understanding of the impacts on economic rights and development resulted in the vote to rescind. "Bill C-69 needs substantial amendment to earn our confidence and support," said Buffalo.

Controversial Bill C-69, which changes how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada, has been touted in part as an effort to improve consultation processes with Indigenous communities. The Government is calling on project proponents to outline the health, social and economic effects of their developments on Indigenous communities. But these bills have significant negative impacts themselves.

"The Liberal Government campaigned on its commitment to obtain social license for new projects. It asserted that only communities could grant permission. I will tell you now: I don't grant permission, and I don't have any confidence in Bill C- 69. I am fearful, and I am confident, that it will keep my people in poverty,” Fox said.

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