Haida Nation poses questions at Enbridge final hearings

  • Sep. 27, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The Haida Nation grilled Enbridge executives and pipeline experts with questions about the price of oil, how much money the federal government stands to make and which First Nations are in favour of the pipeline during final hearings for the Northern Gateway project last week in Edmonton. Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw and lawyer Terri Lynn Williams Davidson spoke on behalf of the Haida Nation at the Sept. 20 session. Guujaaw began his questions by asking about prices for crude oil, and how they would be affected by the proposed pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil to Kitimat for transport to markets in the Far East. Responding, Enbridge’s Neil Earnest said that the price for crude oil in Western Canada would definitely be higher if there was more transportation infrastructure. However, in response to more questions to Guujaaw, he said there is not a clear link between that higher price and the price that consumers in Western Canada would pay for gas at the pump. Guujaaw also got into a debate with Roland Priddle, a former energy executive and the chair of a 2004 review panel examining the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration on the north coast. Mr. Priddle has endorsed the Northern Gateway project, saying that it would lift up Canadian oil prices, diversify Canada’s oil markets, and create benefits for all Canadians. Guujaaw asked Mr. Priddle to explain how he had come to his conclusions, and added that the people who live along the pipeline route do not agree that it’s a wonderful project.”I read your thing,” Guujaaw told Mr. Priddle. “It’s based on Mr. Mansell and the other experts here who have used the information from Enbridge, which is all suspect. You know, it’s all probabilities and presumptions and it’s made-up stuff.” Some of Guujaaw’s questions were cut off by the review panel chair, Sheila Leggett, who said that they would be better addressed in other portions of the final hearings. Sessions will be held in Prince George and Prince Rupert between now and December. Guujaaw was also cut off by the Enbridge lawyer Bernie Roth, who objected to statements he was making about the Athabasca River in Northern Alberta. Asked how much money the federal government would make from the proposed pipeline, Enbridge executive John Carruthers said he estimated $44 billion over 30 years, or $1.3 billion a year. Mr. Carruthers continued his response by describing more benefits of the pipeline, including training, job opportunities, business opportunities and money for communities. “If you want to make the chance of spill zero, you have to have no project and then you have to say we don’t want the benefits,” Mr. Carruthers said. “So you can say, well, I don’t want a spill, but in fact you’re saying I don’t want the billions of dollars that Canada economy sees, that improves our standard of living. I don’t want the $44 billion that Canadian governments get to provide for services, and I don’t want the jobs.” “Yeah, I think that’s what people have said,” Guujaaw responded. Mr. Carruthers then said that 60 percent of aboriginal communities support the project and have signed up for equity. Guujaaw asked for a list of First Nations in favour, which Mr. Carruthers refused to supply, saying it was up to the First Nations to identify themselves. “Well, you know, you’re making a pretty big claim there that — without anything to substantiate it and we’ve asked you for a long time to tell us who is agreeing with this,” Guujaaw said.

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