Would we shut down a legal $40 billion gas plant because a handful of activists and a local church minister or two demanded it?
Would we shut down a legal $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline because a distant cousin of Prince Charles said we should?
The above suggestions sound ridiculous yet that is what some people feel that we should do in light of opposition being shown to the CoastalGaslink project by the “hereditary” chiefs and their supporters in the area.
We should begin by defining what a “hereditary” chief is.
“Hereditary” chiefs hold a traditional position within many interior BC native bands. Their role is typically cultural, ceremonial and spiritual. Oral tradition guides these roles. That means that the authority held by “hereditary” chiefs is fluid and utterly arbitrary.
In having five male “hereditary” chiefs gang up upon and strip three female “hereditary” chiefs of their status, we can see how it isn’t reasonable to take these guys very seriously.
Elected chiefs are exactly what they sound like. These are people who were selected through a democratic vote by the citizens of the indigenous bands. Elected chiefs have direct accountability to their people through elections. They have responsibility for their people and the authority to sign into agreements on behalf of their people.
The elected chiefs for all 20 of the impacted First Nations along the Coastal Gaslink pipeline route support the project!
The elected chiefs understand the need for resource development. The elected chiefs understand the need for jobs and a future for their people. The elected chiefs are guided by reality and it shows.
Environmental activists backed by some academics, journalists and even a committee from the United Nations want to ignore the wishes of the elected leaders and shut down this project which would bring work and prosperity to indigenous people in the area. It is unconscionable that these self-serving ideologues want to keep so many people in poverty based on their own personal ideologies. They are cloaking themselves behind the handful of “hereditary” chiefs in opposition to this perfectly legal project.
Things are going to go one of two ways on the Coastal Gaslink.
The RCMP, backed by government are going to intervene as multiple court orders demand in order to get this project rolling, or elected officials will cower in fear of the activists and let this project get shut down.
If the project is shut down, billions of dollars will have been flushed away. The government will be rightly sued by investors for not protecting a legal project and Canada will truly turn into an international investment pariah. Who in their right mind would invest in a nation which refuses to allow legally approved projects to be completed? Whether energy, forestry, farming or even with a golf course, no investor will ever know if they may be shut down by some “hereditary” chief coupled with some activists.
The activists will scream and howl if and when they are rightly removed from the working area. The may get violent. They may force police or perhaps even armed forces to use force in order to remove them. It will make for some very politically dicey scenes.
Too damn bad!
The showdown over the Coastal Gaslink pipeline is about more than the concerns of some “hereditary” chiefs over the concerns of duly elected chiefs. This showdown is about whether or not Canada is a nation of laws or not.
Let’s hope the government shows some strength for a change on this one.