Consultations on Tech Mine not adequate, says aboriginal band
Canada may have to delay a decision on whether to approve a massive new oil sands mine because some indigenous people have not been consulted adequately, an influential aboriginal band is suggesting.
Ottawa must rule by end-February whether Teck Resources Ltd can build its $20.6 billion Frontier mine in northern Alberta, a project that is opposed by environmentalists and some MPs within the Liberal party.
Ottawa has consulted broadly with aboriginal groups in the area, many of whom back the project. But the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is complaining the provincial government in Alberta has not done enough to address its concerns.
“We are still talking with Alberta and remain hopeful that progress can be made from now until the end of February, when cabinet makes its decision on project approval,” Chief Allan Adam said in a Feb. 4 letter obtained by Reuters. “However, this seems increasingly unlikely within the prescribed time lines for a final decision on the project.”
The letter was addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who last month noted cabinet has the power to delay a verdict that will be challenging for Trudeau regardless how the decision goes.
Green activists say approving Frontier would make a mockery of Trudeau’s promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. But saying no could infuriate Alberta, already angry over what Prairie politicians claim is Ottawa’s bias against the energy industry.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters in Calgary that the federal government would look at the letter “but really the process around Teck Frontier is on a separate track. We’ve going through a rigorous process, it’s making its way to cabinet.”