ASIRT Investigates Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting of Indigenous Man in Gleichen

Cavin Poucette. (Facebook)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is looking into a fatal shooting of an Indigenous man in which RCMP were involved in the community of Gleichen.

At about 4 a.m. Thursday, two officers pulled over a driver and his girlfriend in the community near Haskayne Avenue and Gleichan Street.

RCMP said while conducting the traffic stop, officers observed a firearm in the vehicle.

While trying to arrest 26-year-old Cavin Poucette, a confrontation took place that led to an officer firing his weapon.

Bullet holes can be seen in the windshield of a vehicle that is at the centre of a police investigation in Gleichen.

Poucette was pronounced dead at the scene.

No further details on what this confrontation entailed was provided by RCMP.

According to CTV News, family members identified Poucette as the victim of Thursday morning’s fatal shooting.

Poucette was a “proud Cree” originally from Morley on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, friends told Postmedia.

Poucette’s social media accounts have been flooded with tributes and messages of condolence.

Gleichen is 90 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

Poucette’s death occurred just hours before RCMP near Bashaw AB., approached a man inside a stolen car parked in a rural area. The suspect entered into a confrontation with officers, resulting in them firing their weapons.

He was airlifted to hospital in critical condition and later died.

No other details were released about the victim.

That shooting is also under ASIRT investigation.

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First Nations Leaders Mourn Passing of Tragically Hip Frontman Gord Downie

Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem tour, July 2016.

Gord Downie remembered for raising awareness of Indigenous issues

Canadian singer Gord Downie, 53, has passed away from terminal brain cancer.

Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, was diagnosed with cancer in December 2015.

“Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by,” said a statement posted on thehip.com.

Downie united a diverse array of music lovers with his commanding stage presence and Canadiana-laced lyrics.

Downie was also an advocate for First Nations people.

On Wednesday, Indigenous leaders praised Downie’s contribution to reconciliation as they mourned the musician’s death.

According to CBC News Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler released a statement in the wake of the announcement of Downie’s death.

“Words cannot express our sorrow and our thoughts and prayers are with Gord’s brothers Mike and Patrick, and all of their family and friends,” Fiddler was quoted as saying in a written release. “My dear friend took the country by storm last year with his heartfelt call to action, and exposed dark truths about this country like no one before him.”

In December 2016, Downie was honoured at an Assembly of First Nations gathering for his work highlighting the impact of residential schools.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde presented Downie with an eagle feather and he was given a Lakota spirit name, Wicapi Omani, which can be roughly translated as “Man who walks among the stars.”

Gord Downie is presented with a blanket during an honouring ceremony at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Dec 6, 2016.

Downie’s concept album, Secret Path, tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966, while trying to escape from a residential school near Kenora, Ont.

The album, accompanied by a graphic novel and film, shone a spotlight on a topic that Downie believed had been ignored for too long.

First Nations leaders and artists alike expressed gratitude to Downie for the recognition of the legacy of residential schools and his call for all Canadians to learn the stories of the thousands of children who died there.

“I am honoured and humbled to support the Secret Path project,” Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson said.

“When you have someone with that fortitude and passion to speak out on our behalf it’s this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness because he can touch different audiences that we can’t,” Tanya Tagaq told VICE

Isadore Day, the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief of Ontario, echoed this sentiment.

“I felt very grateful that someone of his stature would take to the cause and really lift up our people through his music and his stellar reputation.”

“I honour the life and work of Gord Downie, a dedicated and accomplished artist who used his profile to advance reconciliation and build support for First Nations peoples,” Bellegarde said Wednesday in a statement.

In June, for his work raising awareness of Indigenous issues, Downie received the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest honour for a civilian), he was appointed to the Order.

Downie’s death is an “incredible loss to Canada”, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said as she thanked him for the role he played in reconciliation.

Governor General David Johnston pins the order of Canada on Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also released a statement about Downie’s passing.

“Gord did not rest from working for the issues he cared about, and his commitment and passion will continue to motivate Canadians for years to come.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Gord’s family, friends, bandmates and crew members, and his many, many fans. He will be sorely missed.”

Gord Downie’s Secret Path in Concert will make its broadcast premiere on Sunday, October 22 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and streaming at cbc.ca/arts/secretpath, commemorating the 51st anniversary of Chanie Wenjack’s death.

By: Black Powder, RPM Staff

Enbridge Backtracks on Decision to Seize Assets from Environmental Group

Staff at the Vancouver office of an environmental group got an unexpected visit on Tuesday from sheriffs who were holding court documents authorizing them to seize the organization’s assets on behalf of Enbridge.

Karen Mahon with Stand.earth, formerly known as Forest Ethics, said the documents authorized the sheriffs to take and sell all of their assets to recover money owed to the pipeline giant.

Stand.earth owes Enbridge money after losing a court case against changes to Line 9 – a pipeline that runs between Ontario and Quebec.

A photo of documents posted online by the environmental group shows the amount owing is about $14,500.

The fees were awarded as part of an unsuccessful lawsuit the group launched against the National Energy Board and Enbridge, alleging inadequate consultation around the pipeline expansion project.

In an email Enbridge spokesperson Jesse Semko said Enbridge abandoned the decision to seize Stand.earth’s assets, adding they would not pursue the matter any further.

~With files from the Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Winnipeg developer suing 49 protesters in Parker Wetlands dispute

(Source: Rooster Town)

Parker Wetlands protesters have set up a legal defence fund to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

A total of 49 protesters — who camped out on the south Winnipeg site from mid-July to mid-September — have been named in a lawsuit launched by the two numbered companies that own the land.

Gem Equities is planning to develop a new residential neighbourhood and says the protesters were stopping it.

The protesters say the land holds significance for indigenous communities.

In September, a judge ordered protesters to leave, and said he would make up his mind about what kind of damages would have to be paid to the affected companies in the coming weeks.

 In court, lawyers for the land owners suggested each defendant be made to pay $10,000.

The protesters are now asking for donations to cover the costs they may have to pay.

CTV Winnipeg 

[SOURCE]

Tensions rise between RCMP and First Nations against fish farms

For Immediate Release, October 17, 2017

RCMP, Marine Harvest, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans has just arrived on site to where Members from six First Nations of the Kwakwaka’wakw have been occupying fish farms, in their territorial waters for nearly two months near Alert Bay, B.C.

Yesterday, the peaceful occupiers, were been served with notices of injunction applications to be heard in court on Wednesday. Sources have reported significantly increased RCMP, Marine Harvest employees and Fisheries and Oceans employees in nearby Port McNeill headed to Port Elizabeth with boats and water equipment.

RCMP have been escorting the Norwegian vessel, Viktoria Viking, contracted by Marine Harvest to refill salmon pens with juvenile stocks, against local First Nation consent. The company is restocking, despite that most of the farm tenures and/or licenses expire before the fish mature.

The escalation in tactical teams, equipment and police numbers deeply concern First Nation members who have been asserting their rights to consent and consultation. Communities oppose the open net salmon farms’ effects on wild salmon including spread of disease, sea lice and other environmental concerns.

The police have no jurisdiction to remove the occupiers, and are supporting the illegal restocking of destructive open net salmon pens in their territory, instead of defending rights and title, and right to wild salmon assert community members.

The police escalation follows a gathering of Namgis, Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, Mamalilikulla hereditary leadership and community members this weekend. David Suzuki, UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Elected Chief Bob Chamberlain, and Elected Chief Rebecca David representative from the BC AFN, were present to show support for those occupying the farms, messages indicated over 90 First Nations are in support of the collective nations’ demands for removal and ongoing occupations.

Last week, Premier John Horgan met with approximately forty Kwakwaka’wakw leaders – elected and hereditary alike,and supporting community members – First Nations and non First Nations, alike. of the community who demanded the fish farms be removed.

Media Contact:

Ernest Alfred
Email: alertbayalfred@gmail.com
Cell: 250 974 7064
Carla Voyageur
Email: gwayee_jane@yahoo.ca
Cell: 204 292 1098

[SOURCE]

Online Threats, Arson and Illegal Traps: Feud between Indigenous, other Fisherman in Nova Scotia at Boiling Point

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

Non-Aboriginal fishermen have held a series of protests, saying some Indigenous fishermen were illegally selling lobster outside of the commercial season, and federal authorities have seized more than 300 illegal traps

A drydocked boat owned by a non-Aboriginal fisherman was torched, followed a few days later by a boat owned by a Mi’kmaq man.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said it wasn’t clear what was going on in picturesque St. Mary’s Bay, and the RCMP said even less. But suddenly, a simmering dispute over the province’s Indigenous lobster fishery had taken on a new sense of urgency.

Non-Aboriginal fishermen have held a series of protests, saying some Indigenous fishermen were illegally selling lobster outside of the commercial season, and federal authorities have seized more than 300 illegal traps, though it remains unclear who owns them.

The tensions represent unfinished business from a September 1999 ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada that confirmed that First Nations have sweeping fishing and other treaty rights but left lingering questions about the limits.

“Some people are patient, but I think what we’re seeing is that some people are not patient — or have given up on a timely resolution,” said Bruce Wildsmith, legal adviser to the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

Wildsmith has been involved since the beginning. He represented Donald Marshall Jr. in the 1999 case, when the country’s highest court ruled that Marshall had a treaty right to fish for eels when and where he wanted — without a licence.

Marshall — previously best known for being wrongfully convicted of murder — had caught 210 kilograms of eels one day in August 1993, and then sold them for $787.10.

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

The Marshall decision also said Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy bands in Eastern Canada could hunt, fish and gather to earn a “moderate livelihood,” though the court followed up with a clarification two months later, saying the treaty right was subject to federal regulation.

However, the Mi’kmaq communities at Burnt Church in New Brunswick and Indian Brook in Nova Scotia defied federal authorities and immediately set lobster traps under their own band management plans.

That led to the seizure of traps, arrests, charges, collisions on the water, shots fired at night, boat sinkings, injuries and threats of retribution.

Over the course of three turbulent years, most First Nations in the Maritimes and Quebec signed interim fishing agreements with Ottawa, which has spent more than $600 million providing Indigenous bands with boats, equipment and licences.

But those interim agreements remain just that — temporary fixes for a festering problem, says Wildsmith.

He says negotiations with Ottawa following a framework agreement in 2008 have dragged on with no end in sight.

The latest clash in Nova Scotia is focused on the Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fishery. Under a previous ruling from the Supreme Court, known as Sparrow, First Nations are allowed to fish outside the regular commercial season to feed their communities or to supply ceremonial gatherings — but they are barred from selling their catches.

In mid-September, non-Aboriginal fishermen in western Nova Scotia started a series of peaceful protests at federal offices to draw attention to their claims that a small faction of Indigenous fishermen were selling their catches out of season, using the food and ceremonial fishery as cover.

“The powers that be simply aren’t enforcing the rules and regulations,” said Bernie Berry, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association.

Berry stressed that non-Indigenous fisherman support the food, social and ceremonial fishery, but he insisted the federal Fisheries Department must put a stop to what he described as a growing black market.

Lobster boats head to drop their traps from Digby, N.S. on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. CP/Andrew Vaughan

Morley Knight, an assistant deputy minister with the Fisheries Department, says Fisheries officers have stepped up their patrols in the area, which has resulted in the seizure of illegal traps.

As for the pace of negotiations with Indigenous groups seeking permanent fisheries agreements, Knight said progress is being made despite the long time frame.

“It’s not unusual, given other experiences where there have been negotiations related to treaty-related rights,” he said in an interview. “They do take a very long time.”

He said the Marshall decision made it clear that a “moderate livelihood fishery” must be conducted under federal regulations to ensure conservation of the resource.

“The response that the department has made … to Marshall has been to provide access (to the fishery) for the purposes of sale, which contributes to the economies of the communities and therefore to a moderate livelihood,” he said.

Wildsmith disagrees with that assessment. He repeatedly stressed that implementing a permanent agreement that addresses what it means to earn a moderate livelihood has yet to be resolved at the negotiating table.

“To think that the negotiation process that has been ongoing since 2008 is going to solve this immediate crisis is California dreaming,” he said. “That process is nowhere close to resolving these issues and it will certainly will not be done in a timely way for those folks who want to go sell fish.”

He said access to the commercial fishery doesn’t equate with a “moderate livelihood” fishery, which must have a separate and distinct set of rules and regulations. That’s why the Indigenous groups that he works with are calling for a separate moderate livelihood licence.

A livelihood fishery would focus on individuals providing for their families, rather than the simple creation of commercial wealth, he said.

“Commercial is not the same as livelihood, and the Supreme Court said that in Marshall … There was never any agreement to have the livelihood fishery conducted under the commercial rules.”

As well, the Marshall decision made it clear that Indigenous Peoples have an existing constitutional right to engage in a moderate livelihood fishery, Wildsmith said. That’s why some Aboriginal fishermen may believe they can sell lobster caught outside the commercial season, he said.

“Constitutional rights supersede the statutory requirements,” Wildsmith said.

Knight said the federal government is open to discussing creation of moderate livelihood licences.

“The federal government … is open to any and all suggestions that make sense, as long as there are measures in place to ensure the fishery is sustainable and conservation objectives are maintained … within a regulated fishery.”

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Winnipeg Police Officer Charged After Pedestrian Dies in Hit-and-Run

Const. Justin Holz, charged after hit-and-run killed Cody Severight 

Winnipeg’s police chief says off-duty officers have the same right as anyone else to socialize after work, sometimes with alcohol.

But Chief Danny Smyth says like anyone else, if an officer has too much to drink and gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she has crossed a line.

Smyth faced questions at a news conference Friday about whether there is a culture among police officers of going for an after-drink work.

One off-duty officer was charged this week with impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident after a fatal hit-and-run that killed pedestrian Cody Severight, 23.

Smyth said the investigation being carried out by Manitoba’s Independent Investigations Unit could result in further charges against Const. Justin Holz, 34, and also said there will be an internal review that won’t be made public.

Severight’s aunt, Nancy Gabriel, has expressed concern that the person responsible for her nephew’s death “doesn’t get away with it,” adding her family just wants justice.

Smyth noted he does not have to wait for the criminal case to be resolved.

“If I consider their conduct to be so egregious that they can’t continue as a police member, my recommendation would be to dismiss,” Smyth said.

Robert Taman helped establish the IIU while serving on the Manitoba Police Commission after his wife was killed in a collision with an off-duty officer who had been at a party a short time before. He said he knows the heartbreak of the Severight family all too well.

“I would hope that the IIU will investigate it fully and they’ll be transparent,” Taman told CTV Winnipeg. “And that the family will be satisfied in the end with the investigation.”

Taman has long called for tougher penalties for drunk drivers and spoken out against the behaviour of police who drink and then get in their vehicles.

However, Smyth said he sees impaired driving as more of “a problem in our society in general.”

“We see people that get killed in car accidents and with impaired driving. Our officers are part of the community too; we’re not immune from those problems.”

Smyth said when it comes to dealing internally with problem drinking among officers, discipline wouldn’t be his first approach.

“Like anything in our society, when we become aware that somebody might be struggling with a problem, my first instinct is to try to help them,” he said, adding that officers have access to resources for help.

“If they get involved in conduct that involves criminal conduct, that really limits what I can do.”

The allegations against Holz have not been proven in court. He was released on a promise to appear, and will make his first court appearance on Nov. 22.

He was also placed on administrative leave with pay.

(CTV Winnipeg)

[SOURCE]

Social Movements Played A Huge Part in Derailing Energy East

(Lauren McCallum / CBC)

Yes, the cancellation was a business decision. But thousands of activists were instrumental in its delay

In the wake of TransCanada’s announcement that it will no longer be pursuing Energy East, a familiar chorus of politicians have emerged to blame various actors for the pipeline’s demise.

Conservative MPs and premiers pointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Leadership hopefuls for Alberta’s United Conservative Party framed it as a direct failure of Premier Rachel Notley. And federal Liberals explained itvaguely as a “business decision” based on “market conditions.”

This blame game, however, has largely ignored the significant role social movements played in derailing the pipeline. Indeed, thousands of concerned citizens have been working to change the discourse and timelines surrounding this project since it was first floated back in 2012.

Years of delay

The pipeline was originally scheduled to be approved by the end of 2014 and in operation by the end of 2018. Instead, delays won by Indigenous communities, grassroots groups, labour unions and NGOs prevented Energy East from being built when it was still economically and politically feasible, back when the price of oil was well north of $80 per barrel.

These delays also created space for Energy East opponents to carve out new expectations of the environmental and social burdens of proof needed for an energy project’s approval, making it even harder to build.

Two events in particular each drove about two years of delay. First, there was the September 2014 grassroots-funded legal challenge on risks to beluga whales at the project’s proposed Cacouna Marine terminal, which triggered a long process of TransCanada trying and failing to find a new Quebec location acceptable to the public.

And second, there was the Charest Affair, where an apparent conflict of interest called into question the overall validity – and legality – of the National Energy Board’s hearing on Energy East, causing delays.

But neither Cacouna nor Charest would have translated into long-term suspensions if not for the public’s ability to run with them. As with Standing Rock and Northern Gateway before it, Indigenous communities led this charge.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Iroquois Caucus, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Grand Chief of Treaty 3 and the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawks — alongside many individual nations and Indigenous activists — opposed the project with everything from lawsuits, to speaking tours to direct action.

We saw grassroots marches touring the pipeline route each summer using theatre to raise awareness, protestor takeovers of NEB hearings and TransCanada meetings, youth co-opting selfies with Trudeau to create viral video fodder and an unlikely crew of trade unions, municipalities, French language advocacy groups and professional associations all taking stances against the pipeline.

Approval process review

It is this groundswell of opposition that created the political space for policy-oriented opponents to Energy East to successfully advocate for a review of the National Energy Board’s approval process, and for new interim measures to be applied to Energy East. Among them was the consideration of the climate change impacts of the project — something that, ideally, would be a given for an environmental review of a fossil fuel project.

The pipeline’s new review, if it had been restarted, would have been the first to include consideration of greenhouse gas emissions both up- and down-stream from the project. These added requirements, in combination with the dour economic outlook for bitumen export and the risks of direct action during construction, mean Energy East has become impossible to build. So yes, the cancellation of Energy East was a business decision, but it was one made in a landscape that’s been successfully engineered by social movements.

For those concerned about the risks to the 2973 waterways Energy East would cross, the rights of the 180 Indigenous nations whose territories it would impact, the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 21 million cars it would facilitate and the lack of demand for new oil sands export capacity, the death of Energy East is something to be feted.

But be sure to ground your touchdown dance or celebratory round of kombucha in the recognition that this was one of the easier fossil fuel mega-projects to stop. Of the oil sands pipeline proposals made in the last decade, Energy East has always had the most questionable economic prospects and held the most risk for the Quebec-dependent Liberal government.

Bigger challenges lie ahead in stopping already-approved pipelines such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3, new upstream fossil fuel projects like Teck’s Frontier oil sands mine, and in pushing for the bold and equitable solutions needed to get to a zero-carbon society. Before we get back to work, let’s be sure to stake out Energy East as a victory for collective action, lest Trudeau, Notley or low oil prices get all the credit.

By Bronwen Tucker, for CBC News Posted: Oct 12, 2017

[SOURCE]

Winnipeg Cop Arrested in Fatal Hit-and-Run Believed to Have Been Impaired

A stretch of northbound Main Street is blocked on Wednesday morning as police investigate Tuesday night’s fatal pedestrian crash. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Family of Cody Severight holding vigil at Main and Sutherland on Wednesday afternoon

An off-duty Winnipeg police officer who was arrested after 23-year-old Cody Severight was hit and killed by a vehicle on Tuesday was allegedly impaired.

The officer drove away from the scene and was later located more than seven kilometres away, says a news release from the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba.

“The officer was arrested on allegations of impaired driving causing death and failure to stop and remain at the scene of an accident,” the news release says.

He has been released from custody on a promise to appear in court on Nov. 22.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue but the Winnipeg Police Service has said little about it, other than that an officer was arrested.

A police news conference to provide more details is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue but the Winnipeg Police Service has said little about it, other than that an officer was arrested.

A police news conference to provide more details is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Cody Severight, 23, died Tuesday night after he was hit by a car. (Cody Severight/Facebook)

The IIU, which looks into all serious incidents involving police officers in Manitoba, whether occurring on or off duty, is leading the investigation of the case.

“Since this is an ongoing matter, no further details about the incident or the investigation is being provided,” the release says.

The northbound lanes of Main Street remain blocked from Higgins Avenue to Jarvis Avenue with the focus of the investigation close to the Sutherland Hotel, which is surrounded by yellow police tape.

The officer was arrested at Main Street and Red River Boulevard, not far from the city’s northern limit.

Family holds vigil

Severight family is gathering for a vigil at the intersection where he died to light candles, grieve and wait for more answers about what happened.

The vigil is planned for 1 p.m. close to where investigators are still going over the scene.

“We just want to be together for each other at that place,” said Severight’s grandmother Gloria Lebold, who described the 23-year-old as someone who made everyone laugh.

“He was a sweet little guy, always joking around, just being a little fun person.”

Police evidence tags line the northbound lanes of Main Street. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A shoe lies on Main Street, surrounded by evidence tags, at the scene of a fatal pedestrian crash. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Severight had just rented his first apartment on nearby Annabella Street and recently started classes at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre to obtain his Grade 12.

He and his girlfriend were expecting a baby soon.

“He was excited about all of that,” said Cindy Head, Severight’s aunt.

Now, his family is waiting for his body to be released so they can plan a funeral and then bury the young man beside his mom on Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

“My kids are taking it hard right now. They can’t believe it really was him,” Head said as her voice trailed into a weep.

“It’s hard for me, too. I’m trying to get through this.”

The IIU is asking witnesses and anyone else with information or video footage to contact the agency toll-free at 1-844-667-6060.

By Darren Bernhardt, CBC News

[SOURCE]

Kinder Morgan Goes Rogue, Proving It Can’t Be Trusted

Photo of salmon deterrent mats courtesy Trans Mountain website.

After swimming 1,300 kilometres upstream to their spawning grounds near the headwaters of the Fraser River, Chinook salmon returning to Swift Creek this year found their gravel beds blocked by a bright orange layer of snow fencing.

Kinder Morgan, the pipeline company that put it there, patted itself on the back for its “innovative” use of the deterrent mats, which prevent salmon from digging nests in the streambed to spawn. Of course, the only problem is it didn’t have permission to install them.

But the company went ahead with its plans, although it had not met its conditions, to start construction without the necessary permits. This reckless behaviour is shocking from a company asking for the public’s trust.

On Sept. 8 the National Energy Board (NEB) sent a letter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) asking for confirmation that this work, among other measures, would require authorization under the Fisheries Act. It noted Kinder Morgan’s plans, “could constitute serious harm.”

Kinder Morgan posted photos of Swift Creek lined with orange plastic even though DFO had not yet responded. If anybody else had gone into a major salmon-bearing stream and interfered with fish spawning, there would be absolute hell to pay. Violations of the Fisheries Actoften carry tens of thousands of dollars in fines but so far there’s been no penalty at all.

Are we supposed to just trust that Kinder Morgan knows what it’s doing? With dwindling salmon runs and starving killer whales, the company wants to use untested methods to prevent spawning in 26 streams along its pipeline route.

Thankfully, those plans were foiled by a concerned citizen, at least for now. Lynn Perrin, an Abbotsford resident and a director of PIPE UP, found the blog and complained to the NEB that Kinder Morgan had started construction without having met its conditions.

That led to a stern letter from the NEB ordering the company not to put any more mats down. But it did not require them to pull out the five which were already in place.

Now Kinder Morgan has asked the regulator to let its fumble slide, a classic tactic of begging forgiveness rather than asking permission. After thumbing its nose at the law by starting construction early and potentially violating the Fisheries Act, the company expects special treatment.

How entitled does a foreign corporation have to be to assume it can get away with this? Maybe the NEB used to take an “ask and it shall be granted” attitude to pipeline companies, but after years of outcry and scandal, the regulator is trying to prove it’s not in bed with industry. It cannot possibly allow Kinder Morgan to carry on as if it hadn’t just taken upon itself to waltz into critical salmon habitats and interrupt spawning.

Making an exception when the NEB failed to catch this activity in the first place would show how little has changed at the board. It’s not up to the public to discover that the company has started construction. That raises serious questions as to whether the regulator has the capacity to enforce its own conditions.

Why are these salmon deterrent mats even under consideration? There’s already a way to prevent damage to spawning salmon and their habitat, and it’s being used in elsewhere along the route. Kinder Morgan has the technology to drill underneath such critical streams — they’re just too cheap to use it.

Instead, company biologists have concocted this harebrained scheme with snow fencing to avoid having to work within windows of least risk to fish and therefore meet their aggressive construction schedule.

Already the company is whining the delays may interfere and even making threats to the NEB that it will have to harm fish if it doesn’t get its way. That’s obviously unacceptable and the NEB can refuse to allow it.

It’s only a few weeks into this company’s expansion plans and they’re already displaying a blatant disregard for the law of the land. Either Kinder Morgan is too incompetent to follow the rules or it just doesn’t care. Neither inspires much trust from the communities its pipeline puts at risk.

By Peter McCartney in Vancouver Observer, posted Oct 5th, 2017

[SOURCE]

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