Indigenous leaders who represent more than 130 communities involved in the oil and gas sector were on Parliament Hill Thursday to speak out about two proposed bills they say will leave their “communities in poverty.”
Members of Aboriginal Equity Partners and the Indian Resource Council were in Ottawa to express their dissatisfaction with the proposed Oil Tanker Moratorium (Bill C-48) and the proposed Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69).
They say the legislation will prevent communities, who are conducting or trying to conduct “responsible oil production” on their territories, from receiving “the full value of our resources.”
“No moratoriums, no killing pipelines, no bills that are guaranteed to lead to endless court challenges,” Bruce Dumont said during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday.
Dumont, former president of the B.C. Metis Nation, said the federal government needs to find a balance between the economy and the environment.
Former B.C. Metis Nation President Bruce Dumont said efforts to protect the environment are costing Indigenous communities with fossil fuel resources money.
He said dozens of oil and gas-producing communities are losing “$200-million each year in royalties, compared to 2012, due to the price deferential and a lack of pipeline access for the products.
“That computes to about $18,000 per family, per year.”
The leaders, who gathered to speak out about the pending legislation, say the media and politicians are portraying Metis and First Nations as “anti-development.”
“I want you to think of the consequences of that,” Dumont said in front of a small group of reporters at the press gallery.
“Our neighbours in rural communities of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. who are rig workers, drillers, truckers, think we are the problem — that we are killing their jobs, their livelihood and their ability to support their families. We also have families to support.”
Those speaking against the two bills acknowledge the relationship with the resource sector has not been perfect but argued it has provided “opportunities to exercise self-determination.”
Indian Resource Council CEO Stephen Buffalo said he’s concerned about Bill C-69’s proposed expansion of public participation in standing.
Buffalo believes only those directly affected by a project should be able to participate.
“We don’t want to open the door for big environmental NGOs to delay or disrupt projects in our territories,” he said.