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Pallister seeks to put premier pressure on Ottawa resource-project process

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/2/2020 (253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brian Pallister says he's attempting to organize a conference call with his fellow premiers to demand Ottawa provide clarity on the approval process for future resource development projects.

The Manitoba premier said the cross-Canada blockades in protest of the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia underscore the need for an improved application process.

"I’m going to be communicating to all my premier colleagues to see if we can’t communicate again to the federal government the need for clarity around the application process and the manner in which we deal with resource-project applications," Pallister told a news conference Thursday.

Demonstrators blocked a portion of the Canadian National rail line just north of Wilkes in Diamond about 25 kilometres west of Winnipeg on Wednesday, but were gone by Thursday. (Danielle DaSilva / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Demonstrators blocked a portion of the Canadian National rail line just north of Wilkes in Diamond about 25 kilometres west of Winnipeg on Wednesday, but were gone by Thursday. (Danielle DaSilva / Winnipeg Free Press)

Meanwhile, Pallister said the province will abandon a plan to seek a court injunction to end a rail blockade on Canadian National's main line west of Winnipeg because the railway has already done so. The premier had announced the measure Wednesday.

Pallister said at their past two meetings, the country's first ministers have called for a "less onerous, less confusing, less frustrating and, clearly, a less divisive process" for resource development than the current model.

"What's happening is that people are very frustrated, because they're not understanding or feeling heard through a process that needs to give balance to the environmental impacts of resource applications in our country but also the economic impacts... they're not separated from each other," he said.

"When we have a process that people can understand and that they feel is respectful and that hears them, then we're going to have... less in the way of people feeling so frustrated that they're willing to flout the law or potentially break the law."

"When we have a process that people can understand and that they feel is respectful and that hears them, then we're going to have... less in the way of people feeling so frustrated that they're willing to flout the law or potentially break the law." –Premier Brian Pallister

On Thursday, demonstrators abandoned a blockade along CN tracks west of Winnipeg roughly an hour after saying they would defy a court order and remain at the site until their demands were met.

Pallister has long complained about the federal government's "onerous" consultation requirements as he's pushed for federal approval of the Lake Manitoba-Lake St. Martin outlet channels.

Late last year, it was revealed communities Ottawa had compelled Manitoba to consult in May 2018 on the channel projects had still not heard from the province.

Members of the Mohawk community man a blockade of the commuter rail line in Kahnawake, Que. on Wednesday. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press)</p>

Members of the Mohawk community man a blockade of the commuter rail line in Kahnawake, Que. on Wednesday. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press)

On Thursday, when asked about possible gaps in the provincial consultation process, the premier would only say he would address the issue Tuesday.

The premier noted First Nations communities had suffered as a result of flooding along the two Manitoba lakes.

"The very people who stand to benefit the most from the construction of an outlet will not benefit by delays in dealing with the process of consultation," he said.

Protesters add a sign to a trailer at the closed train tracks during a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario on Thursday. (Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press)

Protesters add a sign to a trailer at the closed train tracks during a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario on Thursday. (Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press)

Pallister criticized the approach taken by the Wet'suwet'en Nation hereditary chiefs in the stalemate in northern B.C.

"In this particular instance, the proponent (TransCanada Pipelines) has said that they have reached out over a six-year period to hereditary chiefs to get input, and that they have not had participation from hereditary chiefs," he said.

"Now there's a process underway saying hereditary chiefs are right to oppose the project. They may be right to oppose the project. They are wrong not to participate in the process which evaluated the project itself."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

   Read full biography

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