February 18, 2016
Dear Mr. Henry:
I am writing to outline the next steps for consultation on the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project (the Project).
On January 27, 2016, the Ministers of Natural Resources and Environment and Climate Change announced principles that will guide decision making on major resource projects while a broader review of environmental assessment processes takes place. At the same time, the Minister of Natural Resources announced interim measures applicable to the Project (See statement at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=1029999&crtr.tp1D=980 and backgrounder at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=1029989. One of the key principles that will inform government decision making is that Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated.
To facilitate meaningful consultation, the Minister of Natural Resources intends to seek Governor in Council approval of a four-month extension to the government decision-making timeline for the Project, from August to December 2016. This additional time will allow the Crown to deepen the consultation that has occurred to date with the BC Métis Federation, notably to seek your views on how best to consult on the National Energy Board (NEB) recommendation report for the Project, and then to have more time to conduct that consultation.
The additional time also allows the Minister of Natural Resources to appoint a Ministerial Representative to engage with the public in communities along the proposed Project route. It will also allow the Department of Environment and Climate Change to assess potential upstream greenhouse gas emissions related to the Project.
The Minister of Natural Resources reiterated this new approach at the recent First Nation’s Forum on Energy in Vancouver when he said: “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. My message is that this renewed relationship has enormous implications for developing our nation’s abundant energy resources. Not just because there is a constitutional duty to consult – which there is – but because it represents a real opportunity.”
As the NEB hearing comes to a close, the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) of Natural Resources Canada, along with other federal departments and agencies, will establish a dialogue with Aboriginal groups potentially affected by the Project. We would like to use the period leading up to the release of the NEB recommendation report (expected by May 20, 2016) to discuss: your community’s overall objectives for the consultation process; how best to use the period after May 20 to fully understand potentially outstanding issues in relation to the Project; and, proposals to accommodate for potential adverse impacts from the Project on constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights or treaty rights. Of course, we welcome hearing about these issues and proposals at any time.
I am pleased we met on February 17, 2015. We will continue to follow-up with you as the process unfolds. As I stated in our meeting, I am enclosing information about our proposed engagement with the BC Métis Federation, including depth of consultation assessment methodology, purpose of the Crown Consultation Report, availability of participant funding and the government decision-making process for the Project.
The Crown has identified the following as key objectives throughout the consultation process:
- to work cooperatively and collaboratively with Aboriginal groups during consultation on the Project;
- to communicate with Aboriginal groups about the Project and the way in which it may adversely impact constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights or treaty rights;
- to respond to specific requests, address topic-specific issues related to the Project, and to gather input from potentially impacted Aboriginal groups regarding their concerns about the Project; and
- to listen to the issues and concerns raised, and create an environment that facilitates identification of options to further avoid, mitigate or accommodate any outstanding concerns with respect to adverse impacts resulting from contemplated Crown conduct in relation to the Project.
The BC Métis Federation is invited to review these objectives and the consultation activities outlined in this letter in consideration of how the Crown may best work with your community to ensure a meaningful and responsive dialogue on the Project moving forward.
If you wish to discuss any of the information provided in this letter, please contact me by email at Ross.Neil@Canada.ca or by telephone at 604-219-4769. On behalf of the Crown consultation team, I look forward to our future dialogue.
Sincerely,Ross Neil Crown Consultation Lead Major Projects Management Office, Strategic Projects Secretariat Natural Resources Canada
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