Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa to Open Office in B.C. to Woo B.C. First Nations on Energy Projects

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa to Open Office in B.C. to Woo B.C. First Nations on Energy Projects

Article excerpt

Feds to open B.C. energy project office

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PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - The federal government will set up a major projects management office in British Columbia to try to woo West Coast First Nations for the myriad of energy projects proposed in the province.

Tuesday's announcement was the third in as many weeks from the federal government as it prepares to make a decision on the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline proposal through B.C.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said Ottawa will also establish a forum with the provincial government and First Nations to work toward aboriginal participation in energy developments.

"This is an important time and it's an important opportunity for Canada and its natural resource sector, a time that potentially means hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadian families, jobs in every sector of our economy and every corner of our country," Rickford said in Prince Rupert, on the north coast.

He said energy developments proposed in B.C. could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenues throughout Canada.

"There's no denying there's a lot at stake here."

Though Rickford said the measures are not related to any specific project, opponents of the Northern Gateway said the minister is clearly paving the way for approval.

Over the past few weeks, Ottawa has also announced improvements to marine and pipeline safety.

"It's all lining up for approval," said Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, which represents nine bands along the proposed Northern Gateway tanker route.

"If they were going to reject it, they wouldn't waste so bloody much time on process here. They wouldn't be opening new offices in B.C. for the sake of a project that wasn't going ahead. They wouldn't be announcing world-class cleanup for oil if there was no oil."

The two measures were among the recommendations last fall by Douglas Eyford, appointed by the federal government to consult First Nations as the Northern Gateway proposal foundered. …

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