B.C. First Nations eye LNG equity stakes – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

GATINEAU, QUE. — First Nations leaders in British Columbia are seeking multibillion-dollar loan guarantees from the federal government to enable them to take ownership stakes in various liquefied natural gas projects being planned in the province, and have also travelled to China and Japan looking for backers.

The bid to raise financing comes as the Assembly of First Nations launches an effort to forge an aboriginal national energy strategy, which would be based on treaty rights, sustainable development and the need for impoverished communities to benefit from the massive resource development that Canada expects over the next decade.

“What is absolutely clear is that unless First Nations are included as full partners in development, the prospects for projects proceeding are negligible,” said Dave Porter, chief executive of British Columbia First Nations Energy and Mining Council.

He said aboriginal communities will resort to the courts if Ottawa presses ahead over their objections with pipeline projects such as Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway.

But Mr. Porter said there is an opportunity for industry to partner with First Nations, especially on proposals to develop shale gas fields in northeastern B.C., and build liquefaction plants on the coast to ship the LNG to Asia. There are a dozen projects under consideration, and the British Columbia government is eager to have at least five approved by the end of 2015.

Ottawa has supported Newfoundland and Labrador’s Lower Churchill project with a $5-billion loan guarantee, and Mr. Porter said the Harper government has described resource projects in B.C. as being in the national interest as the country looks to diversify its energy export market away from a near-total reliance on the United States, to access fast-growing Asia.

“If these projects are deemed to be in the national interest, then surely we’re going to see a positive response,” Mr. Porter said. “Because in my view, Canada will not reach its full economic potential until it reconciles the place of First Nations, which means direct involvement in joint planning, joint decision-making, and the sharing in the benefits. And that means more than jobs and contracts, it means ownership.”

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