Hello everyone, it’s Ken McLean here of Ken Mclean’s Business Journal with the first of what I hope will be many, many Podcasts going forward.
Today I want to speak briefly about the state of major projects in Canada and the new Supreme Court ruling that says First Nations must be fully consulted, in a real meaningful way, about any developments affecting their traditional lands.
The other peoples of Canada are looking with some dismay at the whole situation. They’ve been left wondering about how, now, all of a sudden, the First Nations of this Country are more or less in control of any proposed, major projects right across Canada.
I too wonder about how the Supreme Court ruling will affect business and the economy. I think about the temporary construction and full time jobs at stake. I think about the community infrastructure benefit’s that can result from many of these projects, and I think about the about the tax windfalls governments will get when these projects move forward.
What do you think meaningful consultations mean?
Do First Nations hold the power of VETO?
Or, as long as meaningful discussions and consultations are held, can the Governments of this country approve a project by claiming it’s essential for the economic well-being of the country?
How are meaningful discussions defined? By the Supreme Court, First Nations or the Governments. Is it possible to reach a consensus?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is likely wrestling with this bit. He has to make some long lasting economic, social and environmental decisions based on lots of large projects waiting in the wings for a final decision and that doesn’t put him into a win-win position here at all.
The MacDonald Laurier Institute, a Public Canadian think tank, issued a paper in April 2016, titled, Understanding FPIC – or Free and Prior Informed Consent, the United Nations declaration that Canada recently signed. This is a very interesting read and attempts to address or at least discuss many of the issues we are talking about in this podcast.
You can view this paper and more yourself by going to the MacDonald Laurier website at: http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/category/issues/aboriginal-affairs/. I will also leave a link at the end of the show notes. I think it may be worth your time to have a look at this paper and the many others they have available.
So, in your opinion, do you think First Nations are really against progress, against development, against everything?
You see the headlines right? This First Nation or that First Nation is opposed to this development or to that project. They’re heading to court to have it all stopped, with the common thread being that they’ve not been properly consulted.
Government and Industry have almost always only given short shrift to meaningful consultation, they know it, I know it and you know it.
And Industry? Well they often try to eliminate obstacles by just throwing money at it and while that only works to a limited extent nowadays, it’s still a factor.
And, you know, its important to note that First Nations always reference their concern about the environment, the land, the mother earth itself. They see themselves as the responsible stewards of the land. And we need that reminder so that we take greater care and attention about where we live, every day.
So, it really looks like the time has come for First Nations to prosper and enhance the economic and social conditions of their citizens, finally.
The Fist Nations of this country aren’t going to take it anymore they’ve said have the Courts on-side and are going full out to protect their indigenous rights and rightfully take their place at the table.
Would you say that First Nations are against progress?
Some are, to be sure, but just as many or more are progressive and forward thinking, especially now that, finally, First Nations have the leverage to be major players and partners in many important developments such as pipelines, LNG plants, etc., so they’ll be looking to get the best possible deal they can for their First Nation.
So, the rest of Canada needs to understand that they now HAVE TO DEAL WITH FIRST NATIONS ON AN EQUAL BASIS and not just relegate them to an expense item on their Corporate books.
And perhaps the First Nations need to look toward working together with Industry and Government, to negotiate in good faith to bring sustainable development to all regions of Canada and prosperity for all.
What do First Nations need to do to address and eliminate the economic and social inequities of their populace?
There’s wide spread attitude in Canada that First Nations get plenty of money from the Federal Government and that they should be able to look after themselves with the money they get.
And the attitude often takes it further, inferring that the First Nations leadership often utilizes most of the funds for their own gain and not for their citizens.
Do you think that’s true?
Or is this just a smokescreen for racism?
First Nation’s social and economic problems aren’t going to be immediately solved by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada or the Government, but I believe this to be the real beginning of recovery of the proud First People of this land.
Now, I’d like to tell you a story about Western Lakota Drilling, who got it right many years ago when it comes to working with First Nations.
They were a Calgary based drilling company, headed by Elson McDougald, a well-known, well-heeled and connected oilman who has built several successful drilling companies. Western Lakota sought out and engaged with many First Nations and Metis Organizations to become financial partners and co-owners of drilling rigs that Western Lakota both built and operated.
I was fortunate to have played a small role in bringing the Blood Tribe of Southern Alberta and Western Lakota together for one of these partnerships.
I tell this story because I believe this was a very, very successful partnership program, one that has continued on since Western Lakota was bought by Savannah Energy. What this partnership program really shows, is how the power of consultation, engagement and trust can be utilized for everyone’s benefit.
That’s my commentary for now and I sincerely hope its given you some food for thought.
Your opinion and comments on this and other matters are important and you’re invited and urged to share your thoughts and opinions on the Notes page of this Podcast.
What’s your opinion?
You may agree or disagree with me, but please take this opportunity to voice your opinion.
I look forward to speaking to you next time on Ken Mclean’s Business Journal Podcast. For more information, you can view the website at kmcleanbusinessjournal.com. You can also check out the show notes and leave comments at www.kmcleanbusinessjournal.com/podcast001
Thank you very much for your time, your interest and above all your participation.
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