Demonstrating support

Enbridge is trying to extend its pipeline permit by promoting an aboriginal buy-in.

Enbridge has swung for the fences in its application to the National Energy Board for a three-year extension of its permit to build the Northern Gateway pipeline. It’s doing so by promoting an aboriginal buy-in of its $7.9 billion project as a way of demonstrating broad aboriginal support.

This takes the form of the Aboriginal Equity Partnership (AEP), 31 First Nations and Metis communities  with whom Enbridge has signed agreements which could see 33 per cent of the pipeline owned by the communities.

The AEP says this amounts to more than 70 per cent of First Nations and Metis communities along the proposed pipeline route.

It’s an impressive  statistic when laid against one of the foundational pillars of opposition to the pipeline – aboriginal people don’t want it built.

But while those in opposition are very public, other than two First Nations and two Metis leaders identified as “stewards” of the AEP, the identities of the AEP communities aren’t known.

Enbridge cites confidentiality clauses within the AEP agreements as to why it won’t name the communities, saying it’s up to the communities themselves.

Fair enough. But given that no industrial project has any likelihood of success or acceptance without aboriginal support, far more transparency is needed. It’s time for the AEP to fully come out from the shadows.