July 21, 2011
A coalition of British Columbia native leaders who oppose plans for a major oil pipeline through their lands criticized Canada’s natural resources minister on Wednesday for remarks they said appeared to prejudge the regulatory outcome.
The Yinka Dene Alliance, made up of five aboriginal groups, said Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s comments about being supportive of Enbridge Inc.’s $5.4-billion Northern Gateway pipeline showed the process is “deeply flawed.”
The project, which would take oilsandsderived crude to the Pacific Coast from Alberta, is aimed at opening up lucrative Asian markets. The aboriginal groups, whose lands make up about a quarter of the proposed route, have staunchly opposed it, despite Enbridge’s offer of equity stakes.
“Communities across the North have been told we’re supposed to bring our concerns forward to the National Energy Board. But now we have the federal minister saying that they’ve made their decision in Ottawa without hearing from a single soul at the hearings,” Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation said in a statement.
On Tuesday, after meetings in Alberta with his provincial and territorial counterparts, Oliver said he supports Northern Gateway because it would reduce Canada’s reliance on the U.S. as a buyer of the country’s oil.