IN THE HOUSE – We are leaders, we should find an answer on the pipeline

Whispering Pines Chief Michael LeBourdais, quoted by MP Cathy McLeod in the House.

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod during emergency debate in Parliament Monday night (April 16, 2018) on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion:

I AM GLAD to have the opportunity to stand up on this emergency debate. I am not glad that we have to have it, but I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on such an important issue, an issue that is critically important to people in my riding.

It was shortly after I was elected in 2008 that I first remember being briefed on the plans of Kinder Morgan in terms of its expansion. I have been elected now for almost 10 years. Over those 10 years, and not just since the
Liberal government came into place but eight years previously, I have watched the extraordinary efforts of the National Energy Board, the federal government, and the company itself as it went up and down the pipeline to
every single community in its consultation process. It has been tireless in working with these communities.

Tonight we are hearing a lot in terms of indigenous rights and titles, and I would like to focus a lot of my comments in that particular area.

It was about two years ago that I went on one of our national TV shows. The person ahead of me, who was a band member, said that this pipeline would never be built and that his band was against it absolutely. He left, and there was a little bit of time before I was to talk. I asked the person hosting the show why they were only bringing on the few communities that were dead set against the project and telling the national audience what a
difficult project it was going to be and that it would not be supported. Why were they not talking to the people in my riding?

I never did get a good answer. I was willing to put forward names of communities that were working towards resolution, but never, certainly two years ago, did I see any effort put into educating Canadians about the
communities that were very interested. However, we certainly had significant coverage of the communities that were opposed.

I can understand why many Canadians would think that there has not been consultation and that rights and titles are not being respected, because that is what they see in the media and in the paper, so what I am hoping to do tonight is give voice to those communities who are the title and rights holders.

This is not the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. These are not people far afield who have decided that they do not want this project to go through. These are the people who are the title and rights holders of the territory that this
pipeline is going to pass through.

I have a relationship with many of these people and I reached out to them tonight through social media, which is a great resource in terms of private messaging. I asked if they would mind if I shared some of their thoughts and
some of the public and private posts. Each one said, “Please do.”

I will start with a first nation councillor, Don Matthew, who retweeted an article the other day saying that communities deserve consultation. He agreed absolutely, and that they have been given that.

One-third of the pipeline will go through his community’s traditional territory. They have had meeting after meeting, and this community took it to a vote. He said that there was not 100% consensus, but 85% of the
community that will have one-third of the pipeline go through it voted to accept and endorse the pipeline as well as the agreement that came with it.

He said that his community was a member of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, but that it is not the decision-maker on this particular issue. This is their community, and they are the title and rights holders.

The next community I will talk about is Whispering Pines. Again, it is a significant area that the pipeline goes through, and this is what Chief LeBourdais had to say. Again, I do not presume to say things; what I am going to say in the House is on behalf of the people, in their quotes.

This is from an interview he had today with the media. He said, “We put a lot time and energy into negotiating this agreement. You know, we wanted Kinder Morgan to respect our jurisdiction. We wanted the federal government to respect our jurisdiction, and they did.”

He went on to say, “When the feds came and said ‘we are here to help’, we said ‘no, thank you.’ We asked them to leave, and invited Kinder Morgan in. It wasn’t just us; there were 11 communities along the pipe. For the first
five years, we met with Kinder Morgan trying to figure out the rights entitled to the pipeline. When our lawyers couldn’t agree on who owns the right of way, we decided to negotiate some mutually beneficial agreements.”

He talked about the environment. He said that these were difficult conversations. He said, “At one meeting, Ian said, ‘What do you want?’ We were frustrated. We kicked our lawyers out of the room, and he said, ‘What
do you want?’ I said, ‘I want you to respect my jurisdiction. I want you to invest in my community, but most above all, I want you to keep the oil in the damn pipe.’ The answer from Kinder Morgan was, ‘That is what I want: to respect your jurisdiction, help invest in the community, and keep the oil in the pipe.”

From that place, they went on to negotiate an agreement. They met a number of times. Again the communities said yes, they supported this particular agreement.

He said, “It’s fascinating for us to watch these people who weren’t there in the beginning talk about our agreement and our jurisdiction. It kind of annoys us.” For people who sit here and presume to talk to the title and rights holders about what has been negotiated and the fact that they have not been consulted, he said that is incredibly disrespectful and annoying.

If they did not have the pipeline go through, he said, “It will be the same old, same old: same pipe, same jurisdiction; no jurisdiction, no benefits, no economic benefits, no fiscal benefits, and no increase in tax benefits.
What we looked for personally on my side and what I wanted in the agreement was the economic benefits, jobs. I wanted to put my youth and my middle class, my working class guys on the pipe, and get them out of Alberta and North Dakota where they are working.”

He went on to have some significant conversation around the additional environmental protections that they thought were very important and that Kinder Morgan agreed to, again working directly with the title and rights
holders. He said, “When people ask how we can support the pipeline, I ask, ‘Did you get gas today?’ When they say yes, I say, ‘Then you have to support it also.’”

That particular interview went on for about 10 minutes, but it was significant. For anyone who is wondering what has been happening on the ground for the last number of years, it was not the government not doing its
job, not the company not doing its job, not the communities not doing their job. There was hard work put into coming up with agreements that were going to benefit everyone.

The Peters First Nation said that it has lived with the pipeline for over 40 years seated at the base of their mountain above their homes, and went on to talk about the pipeline and its being the safest way to transport. We all know right now there is only so much capacity on our rail lines. The more we transport oil by rail, the less we have in terms of capacity for getting our lumber and wheat products to market. Not only is a pipeline safer, but it is freeing up capacity to keep our supply chain going that is going to keep our country solid and moving forward.

People have talked about Chief Ernie Crey, and he is saying that the cancellation costs hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits, training, employment, and business opportunities. We have here the communities along
the pipeline most impacted saying that these are good things. They worked hard to get to a place where they believe this can be done in a way that will benefit their people, in a way that is going to be environmentally productive.

The final thing I would say is that one chief was asked about the meeting that happened, and he said, “Well, we looked upon it a little bit disappointed because we expected some kind of resolution. That is what leaders are supposed to do, right?” On that note, we should all look at ourselves as leaders and create some sort of resolution because that is what we are here for and it is what we are supposed to do.


About Mel Rothenburger (6460 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on IN THE HOUSE – We are leaders, we should find an answer on the pipeline

  1. Don Matthew // April 17, 2018 at 5:41 PM // Reply

    Please Nelson. Get you facts straight before you comment. There is NO Secwepemec First Nation. You should know this, as you represented this area for years! The 17 bands make up the “nation” you write about. Yes Cathy lives here. And I think she actually knows each First Nation in our territory. And she is Quoting Chiefs and councillors from the area. If you read the article you would see that some communities put it to a vote for members. Please don’t think you can speak on our behalf. WE HAVE SPOKEN and will continue to speak for ourselves.

    Don Matthew. Councillor Simpcw First Nation. Of the Secwepemec Nation.

  2. John Scott // April 17, 2018 at 2:34 PM // Reply

    More reason and maturity from these leaders than I have heard from the PM or either of the Premiers. Wise Leadership helps the country and its people prosper.

  3. Nelson Riis // April 17, 2018 at 12:55 PM // Reply

    I listened with interest to Cathy as she spoke during the Parliamentary Emergency Debate regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal and wondered if she had spoken with representatives of the Secwepemc First Nation on whose unceeded territory she most likely lives. They have one of the largest First Nation territories in the Province and at least one half of the proposed pipeline in BC runs through their land. This First Nation has never signed a treaty with the Crown which implies that they must be consulted in a meaningful way. They never ceeded, surrendered or gave up their sovereign title and rights over their territorial lands and waters. Cathy says that 43 bands have signed Benefit Agreements with Kinder Morgan. Who are these bands? Signing does not necessarily mean that the band supports the pipeline but that only if it does go through that they wish to receive some benefits. By the way, all the reserves only account for 0.2% of the territory. Does Cathy, of al people, really believe that affected First Nations will just stand idly by and watch the pipeline be constructed through their territory. They didn’t at Standing Rock or at Oaka and Kinder Morgan is a much larger project and impacts the lives of millions of people in BC.

  4. ernie beadle // April 17, 2018 at 7:53 AM // Reply

    excellent article Cathy ! i personally believe that the left wing media is without a doubt the entire problem here , as you says , why do they only interview those “ against “ the pipeline ? why do they show all these rallies ? why don’t they interview all the bands that are progressive thinkers and why they support this pipeline for the benefit of their band? why don’t they interview the people that support this pipeline ?? i think the answer is fairly simple ! they got whatever bizarre reason are pushing their agenda onto all of us instead of instead of doing their job properly which would be to be unbiased and present both sides of the case clearly and in and informed way do the public was “ well educated “ on the facts behind such an incredible project !!!
    left wing socialist media are clearly the ones to blame for this whole ridiculous ordeal and all the tension and division that this is causing not only between our communities but between our provinces ! The facts are far more people support this pipeline than are opposed to it , but you will never hear this in the media !!
    the easy solution is that all those that are opposed to it for whatever their bizarre thinking is, we simply cut off the oil and natural gas to their homes , we do not allow them to fuel up their vehicles and we turn off the hydro to their homes etc , and see how long they last without these natural resources !!!
    maybe then , they may realize just how important this pipeline is to our survival !! i wish we could magically make this happen because i would gladly support this !
    i truly feel sorry for all the bands that have done all their due diligence and support this great project only to have s these thoughtless people from diwn in the valley oppose it with out a bit of common sense !!

    • Ernie:
      The Kinder Morgan pipeline proponents have received plenty of attention in the media. I am not sure who you refer to when citing the left-wing media and it supposed bias…as far as I see it, most media is BCLiberals-type media. But remember, in this particular moment in time no one can avoid using, moving, living without some sort of connection to the oil industry because it is that pervasive. And the debate here is…time to embrace the alternatives…even a band not far from here is embracing the change!

    • Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your opinionated, summation of the article couldn’t be further ‘FROM THE MARK’ and it is obvious your sense of self-entitlement and empowerment has clouded any possibility of you utilising common sense and addressing this matter with positivity and support. I find your post inappropriate, off topic and offensive. THis situation pertains to and will affect ALL British Columbians regardless of religion, color or creed!

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