PM Trudeau discusses responsible development of natural resources at a town hall in Calgary
QUESTION: I’ve been following the events in Standing Rock with the Dakota Access pipeline. And I know that you said better relations with indigenous people is a very important mandate of your government. So my question for you is if the same situation were to happen here in Canada, what would you do differently, and how would it look different?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Great question, and a really important one.
First of all, the situation in Canada versus in the U.S. in terms of regulatory systems, in terms of consultation and engagement with communities, with indigenous peoples, scientific analysis is very, very different. We committed to strengthen the engagement with local communities, engage much more robustly than the American process is with indigenous peoples, to consult, to listen, to hear concerns, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
On the TMX pipeline, for example, there were significant concerns by indigenous communities along the route, particularly in B.C. There were significant concerns by Canadians expressed around increased tankers, the concerns around spills, and how we’re going to protect our oceans, including our marine mammals. These were things that people brought up and highlighted as real concerns that would have to be addressed before we could get any forward movement on a project like that. People highlighted concerns around climate change. How can we pretend that we’re going to hit our Paris targets, they asked, if we’re also approving pipelines?
So these were all the questions people asked, legitimate, serious questions. And at the same time, from the very beginning, from my earliest days as a politician, I pointed out that one of the fundamental responsibilities of any Canadian prime minister is to get our resources to markets, whether it was fish and furs hundreds of years ago, whether it was, you know, grain on railroads 100 years ago or now, ways of getting our fossil fuel resources and other resources to markets.
But in the 21st Century we need to do that responsibly and thoughtfully. And that means being smart about the environment, being smart about the jobs, being smart about the risks that are undergoing, being smart about partnerships with indigenous peoples. And that’s exactly what we’ve stayed focused on.
So we put in place a pan-Canadian Framework to demonstrate that we have a plan to work with all the provinces to reach our emissions reduction targets. We worked with the Coast Guard and other partners to put in place a historic level of investment in the Oceans Protection Plan, to give the Coast Guard and responders the tools to respond to any accidents that happen. We worked with indigenous communities along the pipeline route to demonstrate that it can be done responsibly and 39 different indigenous communities signed benefit-sharing agreements worth over $300 million. Yes, there are some communities that continue to have concerns, but there are a lot of others who are in favour of it. And you can’t ever expect unanimity on a big project.
But what I’ve done and what I will continue to do is go to the people who disagree with this decision and explain why it’s in Canada’s best interest, how we’re doing the best job we can do and need to do to mitigate the potential negative impacts because the jobs, the growth, the opportunities that comes with getting our resources to new markets in Asia are worth it. The way we’re getting oil off of railcars and into pipelines, which is safer, is also a lot smarter. And this is all done in a way that is thoughtful about moving forward on both making sure we have good jobs and a growing economy and a protected environment at the same time. That’s the commitment we’ve made and that’s a very different situation from what happened at Standing Rock in the United States. But thank you very much for your question.