EDITORIAL – ‘No’ can’t be the only answer in pipeline disputes

(Image: LNG Canada)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE LNG PIPELINE dispute in Wet’suwet’en traditional territory continues to draw protests elsewhere despite a truce at the site.

Those who oppose the pipeline talk about how governments and police are ignoring the wishes of the Wet’suwet’en “people.” They talk about how “heavily armed RCMP” roughed up peaceful protesters at the blockade.

But, as a broader examination of the situation evolves, we know at least one Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief supports the pipeline. We also know many more elected bands and councils along the route, including the elected band council of the Wet’suwet’en, support the pipeline because of economic benefits.

The issue of hereditary vs. elected leaders is confusing to most British Columbians, who have been raised on democratic principles and had thought hereditary power was a thing of the past. Certainly, the current model of elected chiefs and councils among First Nations was introduced by colonials.

However, I’m highly skeptical that the elective system had, as claimed by B.C. cabinet minister Jennifer Rice, the “historic intention of annihilating Canada’s First Peoples.”

And Premier John Horgan had to issue a formal clarification of his remark about “the emerging hereditary model” in Wet’suwet’en territory. He meant, he said, “re-emerging.”

It would be easy to say elected indigenous leaders should have the final say over hereditary leaders but that’s not practical in this environment of confusion over who speaks for First Nations.

I like the way Burns Lake Chief Dan George approaches the issue. Referring to what he calls “economic reconciliation,” he concludes, “‘No’ is no longer the only answer.”

In other words, “compromise” should be a bigger part of our vocabulary. If only those who insist their way is the only way could see that.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7774 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.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – ‘No’ can’t be the only answer in pipeline disputes

  1. Tony Brumell // January 22, 2019 at 1:05 PM // Reply

    Compromise hasn’t served F/N well before.When they compromise we OK thanks now get the hell off the land.The entire Kenny dam ,Kemano project was a lie just like site C and so many other mega dams in the province.Starting in 1949 F/ N were simply brushed aside and still are.How many piplelines would be considered compromise ?? They believe that thier entire community and environment will be destroyed.I believe theynare right.
    NO is ,in the face of the UN environmental statement on climate change /reconciliation ,,Is the only reasonable answer.

    • Mel Rothenburger // January 22, 2019 at 9:09 PM // Reply

      But what about compromise within First Nations? I believe that’s what Chief George was talking about.

  2. Robert A Bruce // January 22, 2019 at 9:41 AM // Reply

    This might be a better compromise, but All I’ve ever seen is the Oil and Gas folks grow, the industry never rely’s on just staying at one place. If they drill one , they drill 6 in the same place. I don’t think any of the pipelines have stopped shipping? Any of the rail have stopped shipping? But they fire up half of alberta with layoff’s and threats…I don’t think that most realize they are boomtown jobs, we can’t constantly expand and expand doing this….is Big Oil and Gas going away? NO….but stop expecting that your job driving a water truck to the fracking site is safe. Time to stop the expansion…..wait, then they only employ 5-10 folks, not 100. Now you see where the conservatives get votes from.

    • Tony Brumell // January 22, 2019 at 11:23 PM // Reply

      There was no compromise when the dept of indian affaires dictated the band council elections.F/N gov’t was never democratic and the hereditary chiefs were chiefs for life.They were chiefs because there parents or lineage were chiefs or they purchased the position,Democracy was a new “white guy” idea of privilage and we think we can force it on anybody we want and we have around the world from austrailia to soth Africa etc .Compromise was never truly sought after.

  3. We’ve seen the effects of “compromise” with the fossil fuel industry: emissions continue to go up, and we’ve now been given 12 years to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels. I am grateful for the First Nations of BC, which have been saddled with fighting on the front lines of fossil fuel expansion. Their resistance will eventually benefit all of us, if we ever wake up.

  4. Ian M MacKenzie // January 22, 2019 at 7:39 AM // Reply

    I’m afraid that “NO” is the only way to see it if we wish to leave a liveable world for our descendants, despite what Dan George and elected band councils under the colonial Indian Act say. Either we stop using fossil fuels or we pay the increasing price of extinction. Science shouts that in our ears, nature blows away our denials, while the wisdom of the hereditary chiefs 7th Generation principle of decision making underlines the increasingly obvious belief that we are no more than ephemeral trustees of earth’s resources, not exploiters. We non-aboriginals have a simple saying for the situation. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”.

  5. For some people an uncompromising position will always be the only position. But a government, which has the “greater good” as its overall goal, may well choose to ultimately overcome the dogmatic positions.
    The question though is…what really constitutes the “greater good”? Talking about the well-being of the environment is not the same as actually acting in an environmentally conscious way. Just thoughts…

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