Mike Smyth: Pipeline combat looms giant for BC Premier John Horgan

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, left, and Premier John Horgan have been all smiles in October 2018 on the announcement of the signing of an funding choice for an LNG undertaking in Kitimat.

RICHARD LAM / PNG information

Opinion: At Premier John Horgan’s first 2020 information convention, he doubled down on his assist for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan want to consider his NDP authorities as essentially the most progressive in Canada, particularly on the subject of human rights and relations with First Nations.


Horgan restored the B.C. Human Rights Fee in 2018 after the earlier Liberal authorities phased it out. And the Horgan authorities was the primary in Canada to acknowledge UNDRIP — the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Now each choices are being put to the take a look at as Horgan’s authorities drives ahead with a controversial natural-gas pipeline in northern B.C.

The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline is opposed by hereditary chiefs of the Moist’suwet’en First Nation, who “evicted” pipeline employees from conventional Indigenous territory.


Now, a UN anti-racism committee has referred to as on Canada to cease the pipeline as a result of the chiefs haven’t given “free, prior and knowledgeable consent” to the undertaking as stipulated by UNDRIP. The province’s human rights commissioner, appointed by the Horgan authorities, has backed the demand, calling for pipeline development to be halted.

It’s a troublesome spot for Horgan, a supporter of the pipeline, which is able to feed the huge and well-liked LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat.

On Monday, Horgan doubled down on his pipeline assist.


“The entire permits are in place for this undertaking to proceed,” Horgan mentioned. “Will probably be continuing.”

The pipeline firm gained a courtroom injunction to stop the hereditary chiefs and their supporters from blocking pipeline employees.

“The courts have confirmed that this undertaking can proceed,” Horgan mentioned. “The rule of legislation must prevail in British Columbia.”


However what in regards to the opposition of the hereditary chiefs? Doesn’t the undertaking require their “consent,” in accordance with UNDRIP?

Not in accordance with Horgan, who insisted once more that the UN declaration doesn’t create an Indigenous “veto” over initiatives, it doesn’t matter what the UN anti-racism committee or Kasari Govender, the province’s human rights commissioner, would possibly say.

This units up a probably nasty confrontation between Indigenous protesters and Mounties who will doubtless be deployed to implement the pipeline firm’s courtroom injunction. Horgan appears comfy with this, declaring repeatedly Monday that the undertaking is supported by the elected band councils of the 20 First Nations alongside the pipeline route.


“There are agreements from the Peace nation to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that wish to see financial exercise and prosperity happen,” he mentioned.

He’s proper about that. This UN committee, and the B.C. rights commissioner, are completely out to lunch on this one. Cancelling the pipeline could be a slap within the face of the First Nations that assist it and the Indigenous employees putting in it.

The take a look at for Horgan will likely be whether or not he stays agency in his assist for the undertaking if Indigenous protesters are arrested, particularly if there’s violence, which is sadly potential.




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