Wed. Nov. 26, 2014
VICTORIA B.C. – The B.C. Green Party applauds Adam Olsen’s oral testimony yesterday before the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearings on the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Olsen, who is currently serving as the Interim Leader of the B.C. Green Party, testified before the panel in his capacity as a member of the Tsartlip First Nation in the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) territory.
In his testimony, Olsen emphasized the commercial and economic value of Aboriginal fisheries, which have been sustainably developed through traditional Aboriginal practices such as reef net fishing. Olsen explained that the Aboriginal legal “right to carry on the fishery guaranteed by the [Douglas] treaty is unqualified”. “I am directly affected [by the Kinder Morgan project] because I am part of the Douglas Treaty and the route of shipping traffic is directly over the places that we fish.”
Olsen cited examples of historic mismanagement of the ecosystems that make up part of the traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples. Nowadays, “Saanich Inlet is mainly an unmanaged parking lot for partly abandoned boats”, he said. Olsen worries that the NEB will repeat the same mistakes: “This process isn’t really going to calculate the grand cost. Even if you do account for the potential cost – you know, those losses of habitats, the damage to culture and tradition, the decimation of entire ways of life, I doubt you’ll put it all together, because in this process, each transaction, each river crossing, if you may… will be made independently and dispensed of in isolation of all the others.”
Deputy B.C. Green Party Leader and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head Andrew Weaver has also expressed grave concern about the NEB’s assessment process. “As an intervenor, I have been dismayed by how difficult it has been to get clear, comprehensive and unbiased answers for my questions. I submitted nearly 500 questions on a scientific analysis of the proposal and the extent to which residents affected by the expansion have been consulted. Many of the answers I received in response from Kinder Morgan were insufficient or inadequate. In addition, Intervenors have been denied the opportunity for oral cross-examination. This is hardly a fair evaluation of the merits of this project.”
Marc Eliesen, a former board member of Suncor Energy, CEO of B.C. Hydro, Chair of Manitoba Hydro and deputy minister in several federal and provincial governments, recently withdrew from the hearing process, protesting that the NEB was failing in its duty to provide an unbiased, transparent evaluation.
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Audio recording and speaking notes of Adam Olsen’s testimony: http://www.adamolsen.ca/aboriginal_oral_testimony_national_energy_board_november_25_2014