Monday, September 22, 2014
Text Size

Alberta sets new rules on consultation between industry, aboriginal groups

Single government office is to set standards for when consultation is required under new rules

BY BOB WEBER, THE CANADIAN PRESS

EDMONTON—Alberta has set new rules on how resource industries must deal with aboriginal bands, despite the objections of at least one group that says the policy is designed to keep government in the driver’s seat.

“Government has the complete upper hand,” Eriel Deranger, a spokeswoman for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said. “We don’t want government to be developing stuff for us; we want to be developing things in partnership with governments.”

The final draft of how Alberta will conduct legally-required consultation with aboriginal bands over resource development was quietly released Aug. 16.

The document, which will affect almost every company seeking to advance new resource projects, came after years of talks and is intended to reform an approach that all parties have agreed needs improvement.

Both industry and First Nations have said consultation, while required under the Constitution, has been too vague and too often ends up in expensive, time-consuming court procedures.

“The focus has been on ensuring the policy respects treaty rights and provides for orderly resource development on Crown land for the benefit of all Albertans,” Kevin Zahara, spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robin Campbell, said in an email to The Canadian Press announcing the policy’s release.

“Based on feedback from First Nations and industry, the policy was revised to indicate that reconciliation is the basis for consultation.”

Department spokesman Martin Dupuis said in email that the policy incorporates the latest legal principles and commits the government to annual meetings with aboriginal leaders.

“We believe the centralized office will improve the consistency and efficiency of the consultation process,” he said. “These efficiencies will be passed along to First Nations and industry through more standardized timelines.”

Under the new rules, expected to come into effect this fall, a single government office is to set standards for when consultation is required and how much is enough. It is also to outline what would be necessary for what kind of project.

A levy on industry is to be imposed to ensure First Nations have enough resources to fully participate.

The policy allows for benefits agreements between individual bands and companies to remain private, although the deals would be part of province-wide data that would be released.

The final draft is the third try at policy that has twice been harshly criticized by aboriginal leadership.

While Deranger acknowledges that small improvements have been made, major objections remain.

Government still refuses to consult over which lands should be made available for leasing, she said.

That unwillingness to ask area aboriginals for input before exploratory work is allowed to begin is one of the main reasons the province’s energy regulator has been forced to hold a hearing in Fort McMurray this week into an oilsands winter drilling program proposed by Vancouver-based Teck Resources, said Deranger.

“If the First Nations were consulted during licensing and permitting, the company could work out and mitigate those concerns at the very beginning, when they are applying, rather than be taken aback by an application that an exploratory project that they had been granted licence for is being contested.”

The final draft puts decisions into when consultation has been adequate entirely within the provincial bureaucracy.

First Nations will no longer be able to raise concerns about consultation at hearings held by the provincial energy regulator.

Deranger said timelines are likely to be too tight for small bands struggling to cope with massive industrial development.

Nor does the document contain any provision for revenue-sharing.

David Pryce, vice-president of operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said industry is sympathetic to some aboriginal concerns.

But he said they should be dealt with at a higher level.

“If there are policy questions about the merits of water use or some other broader question, we think that those need to be addressed by the Crown and not addressed at the project application stage,” he said.

“People want a place to have that conversation. Enable that place.”

Pryce added industry supports the policy’s emphasis on predictable timelines and processes.

He said industry is willing to pay the proposed levy, pointing out similar fees are already collected in British Columbia.

Zahara said aboriginal leaders will be consulted about the policy’s implementation.

Deranger said aboriginal leaders are still studying the document before considering their next move.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...

OBIDIAH

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

JOBS

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON

Responsibilities

Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014

EVENTS

September 2014
S M T W T F S
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
imageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday

 

Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins