Forests minister Doug Donaldson has put himself and his government between a rock and a hard place by siding with protesters who have set up blockades along the pathway of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Despite an interim court ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the group known as the Unist’ot’en are attempting to stand in the way of the 670-kilometre pipeline, which would deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat for export as LNG.
As a cabinet member, Donaldson should know better because his job is to uphold the rule of law on behalf of the province. The forest minister says his purpose is to “support and recognize that the hereditary chiefs have responsibility for stewardship,” but Donaldson seems to be neglecting (or is deliberately ignoring) his obligation to act in the interests of all British Columbians.
This is especially troubling because Donaldson’s cabinet portfolio includes provincial responsibility for much of the pipeline’s pathway.
Donaldson is also doing a great disservice to all 20 of the First Nations who have already signed project agreements that would provide a long-term source of income for impoverished communities, not to mention $620 million in contracting and employment opportunities for northern indigenous communities, including the Wet’suwet’en. The rogue minister appears to be contradicting Premier John Horgan, who is quick to remind everyone that LNG Canada represents the largest private sector investment in Canadian history.
It begs the question of what kind of message Donaldson is trying to send? Investors are already nervous about investing in this jurisdiction. Northern communities, like ours in the North Peace, are relying on LNG opportunities for a much needed economic boost that could spur even more investment.
I also have to wonder what happens once the protesters leave, who will be left to pick up the pieces?
British Columbians deserve better.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace Rive North.