LNG Pipeline vs Wet’suwet’en

PETRONAS is now a partner in the LNG Canada Kitimat project which involves building an export terminal intended to get natural gas from the North Montney fields to market in Asia. The Coastal Gaslink Pipeline connecting Dawson Creek to Kitimat is an essential part of the overall scheme. Gas from PETRONAS’ own North Montney fields to be delivered via the North Montney Mainline to join the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline at Dawson Creek. While there has been extensive first nations buy-in into the project, including from the elected Wet’suwet’en band council, the hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation, who claim responsibility for off-reserve affairs and for the stewardship of the larger territory through which the pipeline must pass have voiced serious objections. The Wet’suwet’en have established an Unist’ot’en checkpoint at in 2009 and have steadily developed the Unist’ot’en healing camp over the years. More recently and a second check point was established at neighbouring Gidimt’en to resist the passage of the pipeline.

So what is the significance of the blockade given the injunction and the overwhelming momentum of the provincial/ national /corporate resource agenda? Much of the land of  British Columbia was settled without treaties being reached with the respective First Nations. In a decision of the Supreme Court in Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia (1997), it was held that that Aboriginal title to land can be established if an Indigenous nation could prove exclusive occupation when the Crown asserted sovereignty. Delgamuukw did not however settle the Wet’suwet’en land claim and as such, it will require another trial to resolve the matter. According to law professor Kent McNeil, as reported in Houston Today, it is in this light that the hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en are “asserting their title on the ground and they’re saying you can’t do this without consent because it passes through our territory.”

According to the Tyee, on January 7th, in pursuance of a court injunction against the two checkpoints (not the healing camp as it is not in the way of the pipeline), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) tactical unit breeched and dismantled the Gidimt’en checkpoint, arresting 14 protesters.  According to The Interior News, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have negotiated with the RCMP to allow Costal Gaslink workers passage through the Unist’ot’en checkpoint for the duration of the injunction which lasts till May 1st 2019. As with PETRONAS’ previously aborted solo project on Lelu Island, their current joint venture in British Columbia’s LNG sector faces the vicissitudes of Canadian Law and politics in the context of our colonial legacy. If it is established that the Wet’suwet’en have Aboriginal title, then, according to Kent McNeil, the Provincial and Federal governments would need their consent before approving resource activities on this land. Even if such a finding of title is not arrived at, as with the previous PETRONAS project, indigenous resistance and the due process may cause enough delay for the joint venture LNG Canada project to run into the ever imminent ‘unfavourable conditions’ in the ever volatile market.

Image: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kitimat-mayor-defends-lng-project-1.4971781

http://www.coastalgaslink.com/

https://www.reuters.com/article/petronas-canada/petronas-says-involved-in-transcanadas-proposal-to-build-north-montney-mainline-extension-idUSL3N1R524E

https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1569/index.do

https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/01/08/LNG-Pipeline-Unistoten-Blockade/

https://www.interior-news.com/news/hereditary-chiefs-negotiate-injunction-agreement/

https://www.houston-today.com/news/unresolved-land-claim-at-heart-of-wetsuweten-pipeline-opposition/

 

the Neoliberal Economy Stupid

4 Tunai itu RajaIn the run-up to Malaysia’s 14th General Elections, 2018, Machiavellian maestro Mahathir Mohamad deployed the slogan Cash is King! to devastating effect against then incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak, imbricating him in a narrative of shameless corruption. While the matter of Najib’s corruption is yet to be heard in law, it has been decided in public opinion, as Mahathir has now, at 92 years of age, returned as the oldest serving Prime Minister in the world. Mahathir’s meme imprinted in popular Malaysian consciousness the sense (regardless of veracity) that Najib’s corruption was qualitatively worse that anything that had transpired before, much of which had happened under Mahathir’s own watch.

The question of corruption is also currently under the spotlight in Canada by way the ongoing SNC Lavalin affair, in which it is alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) put pressure upon the Attorney General of Canada to act in the interest of the said corporation in a criminal matter. (Please see my previous post for a Key to the SNC Lavalin Affair) The question at hand is whether this pressure was exerted on the  Attorney General, in an improper manner, vis-a-vis the ‘Rule of Law.’ The stakes, for the time being, appear to be ‘merely’ political.  Whether or not this pressure broke federal obstruction-of-justice laws is not as yet in question. It appears, however, that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been urged to begin criminal investigations by five former Federal and Provincial Attorney’s General. Equally it appears that, it could be argued that in terms of the rules and values of our system there is no illegality, not even a scandal, just another Wilson-Raybould storm in another Trudeau teacup. This seems to be what seasoned commentator Bsuggests in her article, “Look Away. There’s no scandal here with SNC-Lavalin”  … just business as usual in accord with the norms of Canadian governance.

The point is that corruption is not confined to its legal definition. It arises within and operates through legitimate transactions of all kinds. In writing about bribery, law and morality, John Thomas Noonan has said that “the common good of any society consists not only in its material possessions but in its shared ideals. When these ideals are betrayed, … the common good, … suffers injury.” I suggest, with reference to Marx and Hugo, that it is the unbridled annexation of common material possessions as private property that constitutes the betrayal of the shared ideals and injures the common good. This is the corruption that is enshrined in the laws that uphold neoliberalism. Indeed, regardless of illegality, the effect of the unmitigated monetization of common possessions is degrading to our humanity.

The legality or propriety of a particular exertion of pressure or proffering of inducement, critical though it is in terms of the workings of a given society, is trivial in the face of the bending of governance, the making of laws included, to the will of a powerful section of actors. What good is the adherence to the Rule of Law, if the laws, whose rule is upheld, engender a stilted and degenerate social order …  Here in Canada and throughout the world, this seems to be the default operating mode of the neoliberal political economy – wherein, by fair means or foul, the monetization of common possessions reigns over the common good … but there are exceptions  …  There are indeed, some striking instances of resistance to the all enticing ‘Cash.’ … In 2015 Malaysian Oil and Gas giant PETRONAS offered the tiny Lax Kw’alaams community $1.15 billion in exchange for their support for the building of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island in the Skeena watershed, but the community categorically declined the offer. They refused to convert the common possessions into ‘Cash,’ showing British Columbians and Malaysians alike, that there are, indeed, alternative values and alternative ways.

The image above, titled  7 Cash is King!, is a visualization for a photograph that will be a part of the Berhijrah (Migration) Series of my Koboi Project. This image is being developed as a remix of Mahathir’s political slogan, Zig Zag’s powerful political cartoon and my own apolitical ‘black hat’ Cowboy.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2015/06/13/dr-m-najib-told-me-cash-is-king/914991

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/mahathir-sworn-in-as-7th-malaysian-pm

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2019/03/01/5-ex-attorneys-general-call-for-rcmp-probe-into-snc-lavalin-affair_a_23681656/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IchVHyfBO9Y

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-look-away-theres-no-scandal-here/

http://blogs.worldbank.org/futuredevelopment/moral-dimensions-corruption

https://pressprogress.ca/near-monopoly-canadas-economy-is-dominated-by-a-small-handful-of-corporations-experts-warn/

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/12/global-justice-now-study-multinational-businesses-walmart-apple-shell

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/mar/20/by-rejecting-1-billion-for-a-pipeline-a-first-nation-has-put-justin-trudeaus-climate-plan-on-trial

https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/indian-act-chiefs-and-idle-no-more-snakes-in-the-grassroots/

 

 

 

 

 

 

PETRONAS Canada

petronas-canada

In an earlier post I had noted how on July 13 2018, LNG Canada formally welcomed PETRONAS as their fifth Joint Venture participant and how this investment was connected with TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline that is building to transport the natural gas from Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat.  Much of the gas to be transported to market via the pipeline and terminal will , of course, come from  PETRONAS owned Progress Energy’s own gas fields in the North Montney area. On November 22, 2018 Progress Energy Canada Ltd. changed its name to  PETRONAS Energy Canada Ltd. (PETRONAS Canada). Mark Fitzgerald, President & CEO of PETRONAS Canada said, “The name change is a reflection of our parent company’s commitment to Canada and the strength of our business in the company’s overall portfolio.” Malaysian Crown corporation PETRONAS now not only owns one of the largest natural gas resources in the Montney basin, but is also a key player in getting Canadian LNG to market across the Pacific ocean.

Image: http://mole.my/petronas-jv-participants-reach-final-investment-decision-on-lng-canada/
https://www.energeticcity.ca/2018/07/petronas-now-officially-a-partner-in-lng-canada/
http://www.coastalgaslink.com
https://boereport.com/2018/11/23/progress-energy-changes-name-to-petronas-energy-canada/
https://www.petronascanada.com/

Donald Wesley

6d9c86_cae4eecfeb264be59bfe58318fa6992eOn July 26th 2017, the Federal application for judicial review brought by Yahaan, Donald Wesley in connection with governmental decisions made in the PETRONAS/ Pacific Northwest Partnership Lelu island development was dismissed. By the time it was made, however, this, once portentous Federal court ruling, was moot as PETRONAS had pulled the plug on its 36 billion dollar project just the day before. The decision by the Justice Robert Barnes, which was reported in the Northern View, was based on his finding that the applicant lacked standing to represent the Gitwilgyoots Tribe. In his judgment, he said, “Yahaan failed to produce evidence of community support” and that “what evidence there is suggests that he is opposed by a substantial number of Gitwilgyoots members,” Wesley had argued that the federal government did not properly consult with him as a one of the nine tribes of the Coast Tsimshian Nation, thereby invalidating the environmental assessment, in which such consultation is mandated. He had asserted that this flawed assessment led to a consequently flawed and invalid Federal approval of the Petronas LNG project in 2016. The judge found that Wesley was not “an appropriate person to act in a representative capacity” because, amongst other reasons, he had failed to prove both his leadership claim and his authority to launch the court proceeding on behalf of the Gitwilgyoots. As such the decision seems not to touch on the larger questions of the standing of a First Nation tribe vis-à-vis the Band Council in the eyes of the courts as well as of the government’s obligation to pay attention to indigenous law, as opposed to the Indian Act, in matters pertaining to the tribal and chieftan authority.

Image: https://www.laxuula.com/letter-to-prime-minister-trudeau-pnw-lng

http://www.thenorthernview.com/news/case-dismissed-over-lelu-island/

https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2017/2017fc725/2017fc725.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAMZ2l0d2lsZ3lvb3RzAAAAAAE&resultIndex=1

https://www.thenorthernview.com/news/tribe-or-band-a-judge-will-decide-who-represents-lelu/

 

 

Lax Kwa’laams Ceremony

lelu-island-totem

At the recent pole raising ceremony on Lelu Island, Simoyget Yaahan Don Wesley, who was the face and voice of the resistance to the PETRONAS led Pacific Northwest LNG development on the island said, “Today, the Tsimshian people and the Gitwilgyoots stand proudly to stand this pole that marks the occasion of … where our ancestors left off at Rupert harbour thousands of years ago …. to commemorate what we have done here, the past to years, of taking on a giant in the Liquified Natural Gas Industry, the Federal and Provincial governments, the Lax Kwa’laams Indian Band, the Metlakatla Indian Band that tried to take away our land, our way of life and our salmon. The people of the gitwagiats tribe got together and made a stand to show Canada that our blood is still here on this land and that we are here forever.” 

The Tsimshian people are constituted in seven First Nations, the Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Lax Kw’Alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Gitga’at  and the Kitasoo. By the reference to ‘Lax Kwa’laams Indian Band’ and ‘Metlakatla Indian Band’ above, the speaker is indexing the elected bodies representing these bands and not the people s individuals. The Gitwilgyoots are themselves Lax Kwa’laams and, according to Shanon Lough in the Nothern View, the ceremony was attended by about 100 people including members of Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla bands, along with people from the Gitga’at and Gitxsan Nation, as well as non-Indigenous people, some from as far away as Montreal, Wyoming, California and New Mexico.

Image and audio: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/our-blood-is-still-on-the-land-tsimshian-raise-totem-pole-declaring-victory-over-b-c-lng-project-1.4367586

https://www.thenorthernview.com/news/video-and-story-totem-pole-raised-on-lelu-after-lng-project-falls/

 

Lelu Wolf Totem

totemlelu

On Friday, 20th October, a totem pole carved by Tsimshian artist Phil Gray of a wolf and an orca fin was ceremoniously erected on Lelu Island British Columbia to commemorate the victory of the resistance against the PETRONAS/ provincial government of British Columbia/ Federal government of Canada plans for a massive LNG terminal. According to Ian Gill in his article in the Tyee Gwishawaal Ken Lawson, a house leader of the Gitwilgyoots tribe said modestly, “It’s a small pole, but the wolf is here,” Ken Lawson jointly claims stewardship rights and responsibilities on Lelu Island with Simoyget Yahaan, Don Wesley  for the Tsimshian First Nation. In the course of the proceedings, Don Wesley, who publically led the resistance to protect the island and the Skeena watershed, was presented with a copper shield by Guujaaw, the leader of the Haida Nation to acknowledge his resistance.

Image: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/10/25/Life-Breath-Skeena-River/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/our-blood-is-still-on-the-land-tsimshian-raise-totem-pole-declaring-victory-over-b-c-lng-project-1.4367586

BC/PETRONAS LNG Review

Petronas CEO Tan Sri Dato_ Sahmsul Azhar Abbas and Premier Christy Clark in Malaysia - BC government photoAccording to Chris Hatch in the National Observer the aborted PETRONAS project which would have brought fracked natural gas by pipeline from B.C.’s interior, compressed it into a liquid for export by tankers from Lelu island near Prince Rupert, would have become one of the largest sources of climate pollution in Canada. Specifically, he cites Environment and Climate Change Canada’s assessment describing the Petronas project as becoming “amongst the largest single point sources of greenhouse gas emission in the country.” He also cites the Pembina Institute figures to claim that this project alone would have accounted for “75% to 87% of the emissions allowed under B.C.’s 2050 target.” British Columbians may, indeed, have just dodged a deadly environmental bullet.

Here is a timeline of the BC Liberals  LNG affair with Malaysian Crown Corporation PETRONAS  (via their subsidiary Pacific NorthWest LNG) as reported in the Vancouver Sun –

  • Feb. 19, 2013: Pacific NorthWest LNG submits its project description to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
  • April 29, 2013: Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. buys a 10 per cent stake in Pacific NorthWest LNG and agrees to buy 10 per cent of the liquefied natural gas produced over at least 20 years, becoming the first secure buyer.
  • Dec. 16, 2013: The National Energy Board grants Pacific NorthWest LNG a licence to export up to 22.2 million tonnes of LNG annually for 25 years. It had applied in July for a licence to export up to 19.68 million tonnes, beginning in 2019.
  • Feb. 28, 2014: Pacific NorthWest LNG submits its environmental impact statement to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
  • March 26, 2014: The federal government approves Pacific NorthWest LNG’s export licence.
  • June 11, 2015: In what it calls its final investment decision, Pacific NorthWest LNG announces it will proceed with the project as long as it satisfies two conditions: approval of a project development agreement by the B.C. legislature and clearing the federal environmental assessment review process.
  • July 21, 2015: The B.C. government passes legislation to ratify a project development agreement with Pacific NorthWest LNG.
  • March 21, 2016: The federal government grants the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency more time to review the project.
  • Sept, 27, 2016: The federal government approves the project with 190 conditions, including for the first time a maximum cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Oct. 27, 2016: Two First Nations and an environmental group file separate applications for judicial review in Federal Court to quash approval of the project. A fourth challenge is launched in January 2017.
  • July 25, 2017: Pacific NorthWest LNG says it will not proceed with the project, citing poor market conditions including a prolonged period of low LNG prices.

Image: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/petronas-cancels-11-4-billion-lng-project-near-prince-rupert

 

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/25/opinion/petronas-cancellation-highlights-need-just-transition-fossil-fuels