How Bill C-69 will end up punishing Indigenous Canadians most of all – by Brian Schmidt (Financial Post – April 25, 2019)

Opinion: The misconception that Indigenous communities are victims of the resource industry is paternalistic and out-dated

Across our country, workers, communities and businesses have been telling senators that Bill C-69, the proposed legislation on impact assessment, threatens to destroy the resource industry. Investment is fleeing, projects are being cancelled and jobs are being lost.

Often lost in the noise are the negative impacts C-69 will have on Indigenous peoples. I see those impacts firsthand as an energy CEO who works closely with First Nations. While the bill was drafted in part, as a response to Canada’s commitment to nation-to-nation partnership and reconciliation, it is First Nations who are being hurt first and foremost by C-69. Let me tell you how.

First, you need to understand that Indian Oil and Gas Canada, which regulates oil production on First Nations lands, has a policy of charging a higher royalty for oil produced on reserve lands than the royalties charged on Crown land in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

So in times of a downturn, capital exits Indigenous lands first, in order to be deployed in areas with lower royalty payments. According to IOGC itself, new First Nations leases are down 95 per cent in the last four years. Simply stated, exploring on First Nations’ lands is essentially shut down.

Second, when prices are low, as they are now in Canada because of the lack of export pipeline capacity, First Nations must give back some of their royalties to the producer just to prevent a well from being taken out of production as uneconomic.

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