Canada: Wet’suwet’en First Nation Urges Premier Clark for Crown Consultation on LNG Export Industry

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation warned Premier Clark to begin Crown Consultation with the Wet’suwet’en on establishment of the new LNG export industry.

“Time is running out,” said Chief Karen Ogen, “If Wet’suwet’en is to participate meaningfully in the LNG industry choices and plans for our aboriginal title lands, the BC government must provide us with the necessary information to begin Crown Consultation on the new LNG industry. Taking First Nations support for granted and treating consultation with Wet’suwet’en First Nation as an inconvenient after thought is not consultation in good faith.”

In August 2013, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation wrote to Premier Clark requesting a meeting to begin Crown Consultation on the new LNG export industry. To date, the BC government has not responded to the Wet’suwet’en request, the statement says.

“It is completely unacceptable to wait 5 months for a reply to a letter sent in good faith regarding this important matter,” said Chief Karen Ogen, “While Wet’suwet’en has been forced to wait for Crown Consultation to begin, government and industry have been meeting behind closed doors to finalize high level decisions, fiscal arrangements and strategic plans for the new LNG export industry. It is widely expected that taxation, royalty, and regulatory legislation and initiatives for the new LNG industry will be introduced during the 2014 spring session of the Legislature.”

“Wet’suwet’en people have taken our case to the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark Delgamuukw case where the Court held that aboriginal title has an “inescapable economic component” and that choices about the use to which our aboriginal title lands will be put are the right of our community to make,” said Chief Karen Ogen. “By proceeding unilaterally to develop a new industry on the backbone of our territory, the Province is running roughshod over those constitutional guarantees.”

“We require meaningful prior consultation and a fair share of the estimated $9 billion in annual LNG revenues to rebuild the four pillars of our community and effectively address the poverty, social conditions and poor housing conditions faced on a daily basis by our members,” said Chief Karen Ogen.

The BC Government has a variety of options to make time available for meaningful Crown Consultation. For example, Premier Clark could introduce LNG industry royalty, taxation and regulatory legislation and initiatives in the form of exposure bills and discussion papers in the Spring 2014 Session and then enact policy and legislation, after full and proper Crown Consultation, in Fall 2014.

“We have to get Crown Consultation right on a new LNG Industry which will impact First Nations lands, including Wet’suwet’en aboriginal title lands, for the next 30+ years,” said Chief Karen Ogen. “If Premier Clark fails to provide the information we have requested by January 31st and begin meaningful Crown Consultation with Wet’suwet’en on the new LNG industry, then Wet’suwet’en First Nation will pursue the steps necessary to ensure that the Province fulfills its constitutional obligations.”

Press Release, January 21, 2014; Image: Wet’suwet’en

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