Tom Flanagan is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary and a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute. He is the author of the newly released report, How First Nations Benefit from Pipeline Construction for the Fraser Institute.
On June 18, when the federal cabinet discusses whether to proceed with the Trans Mountain pipeline, they should bear in mind the real interests and opinions of many First Nations. The highly visible opposition of some British Columbia First Nations to pipeline construction has created the impression that all Indigenous people are opposed.
That impression, however, is false. Forty-three First Nations and other Indigenous groups support Trans Mountain, while only 12 signalled their opposition in the Tsleil-Waututh litigation on the project.
Apart from the clan leaders of the Wet’suwet’en, 20 First Nations along the route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which has been planned to feed LNG exports from Kitimat, endorse that proposal.
First Nations’ right to be consulted has enabled them to negotiate lucrative mutual benefit agreements (MBAs) with the proponents of these projects. Although many details remain confidential for business reasons, such an agreement typically offers a First Nation several million dollars up front, plus tens of millions over the life of the pipeline.
First Nation supporters of Coastal GasLink will also receive large cash payments from British Columbia’s resource revenue sharing policy. MBAs also include valuable guarantees of employment, job training and contract set-asides, which in the long run may be worth more than the cash.
For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-for-some-first-nations-pipelines-can-be-a-lifeline/