Breaking the Peace

B.C.’s NDP government blasted by critics for approving Site C dam

Indigenous nations vow to continue with court challenges
Photo: jasonwoodhead23

This morning the B.C. NDP government announced that it will proceed with the completion of the Site C dam mega-project.

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“Party members, supporters and voters are extremely upset with this decision,” said Harold Steves, a long-time Richmond city councillor and a former B.C. NDP cabinet minister in the 1970s, at a press conference held by opponents of the dam this morning in Victoria. Steves was instrumental in establishing the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve. The Site C dam will flood over 6,000 hectares of farmland in the Peace River valley, according to BC Hydro’s estimates.

“Here we are with Site C, the biggest exclusion of farmland ever [from the ALR], destroying a beautiful valley, destroying the environment, taking the last remnants of the lands of the First Nations of the region who have already lost two-thirds of the Peace River valley with the two previous dams,” Steves added. “We’ve got to put an end to this kind of nonsense. The Site C dam is not clean and green.”

A number of First Nations have vowed to take further legal action against Site C, arguing that proceeding with the mega-project violates the 1899 Treaty 8 agreement between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.

On Sunday, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a last-minute appeal to NDP Premier John Horgan urging cancellation of the project:

Canada’s own legal and constitutional frameworks must adapt to the UN Declaration, especially Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) based on our inherent and inalienable rights pursuant to our Indigenous laws and authorities. FPIC is the right to say yes and the right to say no to development on our lands and territories in order to safeguard the land and waters for future generations.

December 11 will be the 20th Anniversary of the historic Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa Supreme Court Decision. We raise our hands in appreciation to the leadership of the hereditary Chiefs and grassroots for their continuing fight for our human rights.

In closing, we call on Premier Horgan to remember the members of Treaty 8 who are defending their land and way of life against BC Hydro’s destructive Site C project. In the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration, their Treaty 8 rights are human rights.

The NDP government has vowed to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The B.C. Liberal government led by Christy Clark started construction of Site C without having first referred the proposal to the B.C. Utilities Commission and despite not having received consent from all local First Nations. In the provincial election earlier this year, the Greens called for cancelling Site C and the NDP promised to refer it to the Utilities Commission.

Many NDP supporters are responding angrily to today’s news. Premier Horgan and many of his MLAs participated in protests against Site C in recent years. Green leader Andrew Weaver, who did not make cancelling the project a condition of his agreement to help prop up the minority NDP government, has called for a recall campaign against NDP energy minister Michelle Mungall, who had as recently as last year spoken at actions opposing Site C.

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