The paid advertisement by Ellis Ross (February 7, We’re All In This Together)
begins by stating, “The recent blockade of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline…is having a polarizing effect that in the end, will benefit no one.” He then places the blame for this division on “outsiders who claim to act in the best interest of aboriginal people.” These outsiders, he tells us, use foreign money from places like the Tides Foundation to “target a particular community and then divide them.”
It’s insulting and disrespectful to the Wet’suwet’en to suggest that they’re being led. They don’t need “outsiders” to tell them to protect their hereditary land. Ellis Ross doesn’t seem to see the hypocrisy of using divisive language in an article that calls out divisiveness.
Since Mr. Ross is concerned about infusions of foreign money, he should also be concerned with foreign-owned corporations controlling our resources, and their intense lobbying pressure on our government to weaken our regulations and policies that protect public safety and the environment. Canada LNG isn’t a Canadian corporation. It’s owned by Shell (British and Dutch multinational), Petronas (Malaysian state-owned), PetroChina (Chinese state-owned), Mitsubishi corporation (Japanese multinational), and Korea Gas Corporation (Korean state-owned).
I fully understand and respect Mr. Ross’s deep concern for the social and economic issues that plague many First Nations communities, and I understand his hope that LNG money can help fix these things. What won’t help is pointing fingers and slinging mud.
In the end, such accusations simply aren’t productive. We need to learn from past mistakes. Again and again, we’ve learned that development projects—like Enbridge Northern Gateway—that don’t genuinely consult in good faith, tend to die, struck down in the courts. The fact is that there is no shortcut to approval of development in the north, and if you try and ram development through by weakening legislation and making backroom deals, you inevitably fail to get the social license to proceed.
Years before he died, my husband Bruce wrote the following words. They seem more relevant now than ever:
“The case can be made that the best environmental campaigners have been industrialists who failed to understand the human landscapes they were wanting to operate on, and politicians who chose to ignore the direction of First Nations and resource law and a growing global environmental sensibility.
We need to decide, as communities and neighbors, what’s an acceptable risk. And we need to do it civilly, grounded in science and fact, instead of hyperbole and accusations.”
Because Ellis and I can at least agree on one thing: we’re all in this together.