Sign Up for FREE Daily Energy News
WEC - Western Engineered Containment
Hazloc Heaters
Copper Tip Energy Services
Hazloc Heaters
Copper Tip Energy
WEC - Western Engineered Containment

David Khan: Indigenous ownership of TMX is a win-win-win scenario

Project Reconciliation Feature 400x270

Growing up in an oil and gas family, I know the importance of the energy sector to Alberta and Canada.

Working summers on pipeline construction and seismic exploration paid my university tuition. My father was employed in the patch for over 40 years. The industry has helped countless other families from coast to coast.

Tax dollars from the energy industry contribute to the well-being and prosperity of Canadian society. They help build health care, education, emergency services and other vital social programs that make our lives better.

Alberta oilsands could generate about $1 trillion in GDP with $17 billion in taxes and royalties over the next decade. This will support social infrastructure and finance our transition towards a low-carbon economy.

The lack of pipeline capacity to tidewater is handicapping the industry and diminishing benefits for Canadians. We lose up to $80 million a day because we can’t sell significant quantities of our resources at world prices into international markets. Canada is being shortchanged.

A pipeline to tidewater will not increase oilsands production. A pipeline will diversify our markets and reduce oil shipments by rail which are far less safe. It will also cut back oil quantities moving to the United States at a massive financial discount.

Project Reconciliation can provide some relief. It would purchase a majority stake in the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX) for Indigenous communities in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There are competing proposals: the Iron Coalition, involving some Alberta-based First Nations and Métis and the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, which includes some B.C. First Nations along the pipeline route. These hold real promise for both Indigenous people and all Canadians.

The facts are, pipelines provide the safest and lowest CO2-emitting transportation of oil. We also know Indigenous people have not fully shared in our resource-sector benefits. Nor have they exercised significant control over construction and operation of these projects. That must change. Canadians have a moral and a legal responsibility to make that change.

Section 35 of our Constitution legally requires us to respect current and future Aboriginal and treaty rights. In practice, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled this creates a duty on the federal government to consult First Nations whose lands and rights are affected by a project and accommodate their concerns. This duty is most important where, treaties have not yet been concluded.

Most of B.C. is not covered by treaties with First Nations. The modern treaty process in B.C. has resulted in the successful conclusion of only the Nisga’a Treaty.

There is no constitutional override of Section 35.

Indigenous ownership of TMX would help meet this legal obligation, advance reconciliation and achieve other important goals for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. These include job creation, genuine empowerment of Indigenous communities, improved safety and government program support.

Project Reconciliation has a unique feature: to create an Indigenous sovereign wealth fund that provides long-term financial security for Indigenous people. It would invest in climate-friendly initiatives such as energy-efficient on-reserve housing, green energy, and other low-carbon infrastructure.

Project Reconciliation’s proposal is also attractive for its inclusivity. It offers equity stakes to Western Canadian First Nations and Métis communities. They are entitled to no less. TMX will transport energy resources across their lands produced from their traditional territories.

Indigenous peoples would also oversee project construction, operation and take a lead role in environmental stewardship.

This lays the foundation for true reconciliation and helps to make right historic social and economic injustices.

New projects based on new ways of thinking will lead to a brighter future for Canada. Indigenous people will achieve economic independence and self-determination. Overcoming pipeline gridlock will boost our oil and gas industry. Sending our resources to higher-priced international markets delivers self-evident benefits to all Canadians.

All of this further strengthens the social and economic bonds that unite this great country.

Indigenous majority ownership of TMX will be a win-win-win.

David Khan is leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and practises Indigenous and constitutional law.


Share This:

More News Articles

New SHOWCASE Directory Companies


CDN Controls
Caliper Inspection
Challenger Geomatics
Canline Pipeline Solutions
Environmental Mats
Gemini Fabrication
DyCat Solutions