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The Next Two weeks are Important Weeks in the Saga of the Trans Mountain Expansion – Maureen McCall


by Maureen McCall

Next week, the Federal government is scheduled to announce a decision on June 18th on whether to approve the Trans Mountain Expansion after re-examination of the environmental review and Indigenous consultation process.

The government is expected to make its decision at a cabinet meeting on June 18th, after receiving the findings of the extended consultation.

Meanwhile in Alberta this week, Premier Jason Kenney and his cabinet met with representatives from all 48 First Nations in Alberta on Monday to discuss economic opportunities and the $1-billion Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. It’s a proposed Crown corporation that would provide technical support on major project opportunities and access to capital markets through loan guarantees or co-invested debt and equity lending from the Alberta government.

The meeting has immediate relevance to several Indigenous groups that have shown interest in buying a stake of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which was bought by Ottawa last year for $4.5 billion. The Indigenous Opportunities Corporation could potentially benefit Indigenous groups that need access to capital and there is a clear encouragement of collaboration between First Nations by Jason Kenney’s government.

“There are at least four consortiums of First Nations who are discussing the possibility of an ownership stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Kenney said on Monday,  “I would encourage those different groups to try to work together.”

Cancelling the NDP government’s planned $3.7-billion rail lease would allow for those funds to be available for the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (IOC) with an initial investment of $24 million over four years and $1 billion earmarked for backstop financing.
 

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One consortium who could benefit from the IOC is interested in an ownership stake in the Trans Mountain Expansion – Project Reconciliation- which proposes to buy a 51-per-cent stake in TMX. The group has invited Indigenous communities in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to participate as shareholders, with the goal of creating a sovereign wealth fund.

Delbert Wapass, a former chief of the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan, is the executive chairman of the group and has stated

“This is an opportunity and I don’t want it squandered. At the end of the day, this is reconciliation through economic development.”

There is much speculation on the urgency the Federal government may or may not feel for a sale of TMX.

Some say it is a “motivated seller” and while others speculate the Federal government won’t sell until after the fall election.

Either way, discussions are building this week as Indigenous leaders attend the Global Petroleum Show 2019 this week and participate in meetings and discussions of Indigenous-led energy projects and investments.

Additionally, with Minister of Finance Bill Morneau slated to speak in Calgary on June 19th to the Economic Club of Canada, there is much anticipation of more details on June 19th as well as the June 18th pronouncement.

It seems that speakers Delbert Wapass, Executive chair & Founder of Project Reconciliation and Steven Mason , Project Reconciliation managing director & founder will have a great deal to talk about as they speak about First Nations Collaboration in Energy Projects at a PJVA Luncheon June 20th at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

They will be joined by Chief Roy Fox- Indian Resource Council Director and past CEO and a Pioneer in First Nations self-management of Natural Resources and Brian Schmidt- Pres & CEO Tamarack Valley Energy, Honorary Blood Tribe member and advisor to Indian Oil and Gas as they discuss their successful upstream joint ventures.

To attend the June 20th event, produced by the PJVA, go to  https://securegs.com/registerEvents.php?eID=6017

There is are strong indications that First Nations collaborations have become a significant force to drive the energy industry forward.

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