By Roy L Hales
Though she is still vague as to how things will come about, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has been spreading hope around Paris. Her emphasis on the need to enshrine “the importance of respecting human rights, including the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples” in the Climate Change Agreement begs the question what about Canada. McKenna responded this morning, in a press conference where she talked about bringing COP 21 home to Canada
What About Canada?
She mentioned talking to indigenous leaders.
Have some of them talked like Grand Chief Stewart Phillip did yesterday, in a Vancouver Province Op-ed? Phillip said if the new government is serious about having “a new, more respectful relationship with First Nations, saying no to Site C is a great way to begin …. Treaty 8 First Nations firmly maintain that the decision by the former federal cabinet to approve Site C violated their inherent and established treaty rights.” (They were given the use of the land that will be submerged.)
Similar things could be said of many of Premier Clark’s LNG projects. For example, Lax Kw’alaams, the Gitga’at First Nation, and Madii Lii have all launched court cases against the Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island.
What about the inhabitants of cities like Burnaby and Vancouver? Do they have any rights when it comes to Kinder Morgan’s desire to increase the amount of bitumen flowing through their territory?
This morning a reporter asked McKenna about the implications of what she was saying abroad. What does this mean back in Canada when it comes to the oil sands, pipeline projects or indigenous rights to say ‘no’ to extraction on their lands?
Bringing COP 21 Home To Canada
“Obviously this is really critical to have an international framework. Canada is playing a role here, but we are going to have to go home and do a lot of hard work. We understand we need to be working with our indigenous peoples.”
“We will be working with our indigenous peoples, we will be working with the provinces and territories and we’ll be sitting down and figuring out this Canadian framework.
“The same principles that we are promoting here – when it comes to indigenous rights, when it comes to recognition of the roles of the provinces and territories – will play out at home.
” … I’m already having discussions here. I’ve had many, many discussions with indigenous leaders … and I had a breakfast this morning with premiers to talk about these issues. What are we going to do? How are we going to make progress when we go home?
“But what is really important, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is about having a plan and concrete actions to get there and we owe it to Canadians to do it in a proper way, which means sitting down with the provinces and territories, with indigenous leaders, to look at how we’re going to make progress.
“We’ve been clear we are going to have a price on carbon. We are going to reduce our emissions. We have a Green infrastructure plan. … We will go back and we will do the hard work so that Canada does its share to move to a low carbon economy.”
Environmental Review Process
This was not enough for one reporter who, especially now that Canada is pushing for a 1.5 degree ceiling on Global warming, wanted to know how they intend to reconcile these goals with the government’s apparent support for the energy east pipeline.
” … We are reviewing environmental assessments and the energy east pipeline is part of that, but … I don’t like just looking at one particular development. … We are looking at how we are going to make progress to a low carbon economy,” said McKenna.
“What is very encouraging is that we have seen the provinces make many announcements, including here in Paris, about how they want to tackle Climate Change, So we are going to be looking at a whole range of solutions so that we reduce our emissions and have a pan Canadian plan.”
Photo at top of page: Work underway at site C – by © Garth Lenz