Monday, February 20, 2017 - 17:37 • Discourse Media

This investigation was reported by Trevor Jang for Discourse Media. It is the second part of an ongoing investigation into how government negotiates with First Nations for major resource development projects.

Nestled in the forests of northwestern British Columbia, Richard Wright hauls a 30-pound moose chest out of a smokehouse. He shot the animal a few days ago, just a few kilometres north of camp.

You want your wood to smoulder, not flame or get too warm. So you either get some alder or some cottonwood, which changes the flavour that you’re adding to the meat,” Wright says, after placing the chest in the back of his trunk, followed by the legs, rump, backbone and spine.

Wright is preserving food in the way the Gitxsan people here have for many generations. The act also has a deeper purpose; this camp, where he and others are living off the land for the past two years, is a form of protest, an occupation of a sort.

The Madii Lii camp, which includes a cabin, smokehouse, greenhouse and garden, strategically blocks the path of the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline. The 900-kilometre pipeline is proposed to carry natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) export terminal proposed for Lelu Island on the province’s north coast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:23 • Andrew Nikiforuk
Oil spill
Oil spill

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

A study commissioned at the request of a First Nation says the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has not reported accurately on the scale or impact of daily crude oil and salt water spills in the petro province.


The regulator has not provided “the public with accurate, credible, complete, unbiased and timely information and fails in its responsibility to protect the environment,” the study concluded.


Kevin Timoney, author of the report and an independent ecologist based in Alberta, called for the province’s auditor general to audit “the failure of the regulator.”


Timoney’s review of the regulator’s spill database found spills that were not recorded in the database at all, or didn’t include information on volume spilled. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 15:01 • Judith Lavoie
Site C dam construction
Site C dam construction

Sandbags, bales of weed-free straw, crushed gravel and silt fencing are among the extra supplies BC Hydro has stockpiled at the Site C dam construction site to avoid federal fines.

In early January the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued BC Hydro with a Notice of Intent to Issue an Order after inspectors found that “no erosion and sediment contingency supplies” were to be found at three sites.

The agency also noted BC Hydro could face fines of up to $400,000 for not meeting the conditions set out in its environmental certificate. 

It’s not the first time BC Hydro has been found in contravention of the law. In May, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency found BC Hydro had failed to measure air pollution and threatened BC Hydro with a $400,000 fine.

BC Hydro, in a Jan. 5 letter to the Environmental Assessment Agency, said all measures had been taken to restore the Site C project to a “state of conformity,” and, after studying photographs supplied by BC Hydro, the agency agreed that there was no need to issue the order, which could have resulted in hefty fines.

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 11:50 • James Wilt
Justin Trudeau Broken Promises Town Hall Electoral Reform
Justin Trudeau Broken Promises Town Hall Electoral Reform

Reconcile with Indigenous peoples. Make elections fairer. Invest many more billions in public transit and green infrastructure. Take climate change seriously.

Those are just a few of the things that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party committed to in the lead-up to the 2015 election, offering up a fairly stark contrast to the decade of reign by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. And on Oct. 19, 2015, almost seven million Canadians voted for that Liberal platform. In his victory speech, Trudeau spoke of “real change” and “sunny ways” and “positive politics.”

Fast forward almost 500 days.

Many major promises have been broken, and sentiments seemingly abandoned. Frankly, it’s getting rather difficult to keep up with the amount of backtracking and shapeshifting happening in Ottawa.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 10:37 • Judith Lavoie
Tsilhqot'in man beats a drum at Fish Lake, site of the proposed Taseko New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz.
Tsilhqot'in man beats a drum at Fish Lake, site of the proposed Taseko New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz.

A bizarre twist in a decade-long battle over a proposed mine on Tsilhqot’in Nation traditional territory could see the B.C. government issue extensive exploration permits for the mine this month even though the project has twice been turned down by the federal government.

The proposal by Taseko Mines Ltd. to build a $1.5-billion open pit, copper and gold mine in the Cariboo region — a plan which received vocal support from Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett — was approved in 2010 by the provincial government after a B.C. environmental assessment.

But, the same year, the Prosperity Mine was rejected by the federal review panel, which took a dim view of plans to drain Fish Lake, known to Tsilhqot’in as Teztan Biny, for use as a tailings pond.

The company took a second shot with a proposal for the New Prosperity Mine, which would save Fish Lake and situate the tailings pond two kilometres away in a smaller lake. But, the federal government again turned it down in 2014, despite a trip to Ottawa by Bennett in an effort to persuade the federal government of the importance of the mine to the economy of B.C.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 14:05 • James Wilt

The National Energy Board (NEB) is a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest.”

That’s what Marc Eliesen — former head of BC Hydro, Ontario Hydro and Manitoba Hydro, and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba — told the NEB Modernization Expert Panel on Wednesday morning in Vancouver.

The bottom line is that the board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain review not only exposed the process as a farce, it exposed the board as a captured regulator,” he said to the five-member panel.

Tweet: “Regulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.” http://bit.ly/2kUzoTv #cdnpoli #EnergyEast #TransMtnRegulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline was reviewed with what many consider a heavily politicized NEB process, one that Trudeau had committed to changing prior to issuing a federal verdict on the project.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 11:46 • Sarah Cox
Watson Slough near the Site C dam
Watson Slough near the Site C dam

A “landmark” wetland and birding hotspot in the Peace River Valley is slated to be destroyed by the Site C dam, after the B.C. government preserved it as a model conservation project.  

The area around Watson Slough, which provides habitat for two dozen bird, plant and amphibian species vulnerable to extinction, is scheduled for imminent logging by BC Hydro contractors in preparation for flooding the area for Site C. Preparations are being made for logging crews and security had arrived at Bear Flat near Watson Slough Wednesday morning in prepration for clear-cutting the Bear Flat/Cache Creek area.

Peace region residents say logging the area around the slough this winter will prematurely rob them of a favourite outdoor spot, as treasured locally as Vancouver’s Stanley Park or Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. 

It’s discouraging,” Karen Goodings, a Peace River Regional District director, said in an interview. “Watson Slough is one of the landmarks of this area and I really believe it is irreplaceable.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 14:01 • Discourse Media

By Trevor Jang for Discourse Media.

Earl Muldon sits at his kitchen table surrounded by family, sipping coffee. His wife Shirley brings over a plate of cream cake topped with huckleberries. They’re hand-picked from the land surrounding his two-storey home in Gitanmaax, a village of about 800 people from the Gitxsan Nation in northwestern British Columbia, near the town of New Hazelton.

To the Gitxsan people, 80-year-old Muldon is known by another name: Delgamuukw. That name — a symbolic ancestral chief name passed down from generation to generation of Gitxsan people — is also one of the most well-known chief names in the rest of Canada. Delgamuukw was the lead plaintiff in a historic court case that confirmed that Aboriginal title, ownership of traditional lands had not been extinguished by any colonial government.  

It’s a name that’s greatly respected. We’ve earned respect for it,” says Muldon, who was one of three people to hold the Delgamuukw name during the court proceedings.

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