OTTAWA, O.N. — As BC Hydro and protesters of Site C continue court proceedings in B.C. Supreme Court this week, Site C came up in Ottawa at the House of Commons.
Saanich-Gulf Islands MP and leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May brought up a controversial issue of permits during the end of the election campaign last fall.
“In the dying days of the federal election campaign, 14 permits were issued by Fisheries Canada and Transport Canada to allow the construction of the Site C dam in northern B.C. on the Peace River,” she said, calling it ‘highly controversial,’ ‘manifestly opposed,’ and alleges the projects only purpose is to provide electricity for LNG development.
“The joint panel found it directly offends Treaty 8 treaty rights. Will the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs commit to no further permits being issued while the issues for indigenous people remain outstanding?”
Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna answered to May’s comments, which Prince George – Peace River – Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer shared on social media.
“In the fall of 2014, the former government approved the project and set legally binding conditions with which the proponent must comply,” she said, adding that construction has started on Site C, and BC Hydro must meet requirements set out in the EA decision and other regulatory requirements.
Her statements have been interpreted by some as an indicator that the Liberal government won’t intervene and stop Site C, which many have been calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do since he was elected. President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Philip, said late last year that Trudeau must veto the project to show his commitment to reconciliation.
In response to criticism about respecting Canada’s First Nations, McKenna said the government is ‘committed to a new relationship with indigenous peoples.’
“I have been and will continue to be engaged in discussions with indigenous leaders on how we can work together to ensure better consultation, environmental assessments, and natural resource development.”