A report from a federal envoy examining First Nations opinions on new pipelines to Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be made public, according to Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
This spring, the government appointed Douglas Eyford as the special federal representative on west coast energy infrastructure and tasked him with engaging with First Nations in northern B.C. and Alberta on their views regarding future resource development.
Eyford presented his preliminary report to Harper in June, but it still hasn't been released publicly. Cullen tried to obtain the report through an access to information request, but was denied late last month.
"They appointed this special guy, he's supposed to be really good and smart and he's going to go around and toss a lot of money and he's going to report back to the Prime Minister and Canadians about what he found out," Cullen said during a conference call on Thursday. "To hide that and make it inaccessible to Canadians just further builds the cynicism."
Eyford has been tasked with three responsibilities: to guide the government's plan for inclusive prosperity, to promote environmental prosperity and to engage with First Nations on energy infrastructure projects.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said keeping the report private is the only way the process could be conducted fairly.
Mr. Eyford's conversations with First Nations are private and confidential to ensure that we get candid feedback," Oliver wrote in a email to the Citizen. "It is essential that we engage candidly with First Nations communities, in order to take into account their knowledge and experience, as well as their concerns and aspirations."
Cullen fears any efforts by the federal government to engage First Nations on new pipeline projects could be futile as many have already made up their minds. He suggested the secrecy from the federal government could be because the feedback Eyford is receiving is negative.
"If it was overwhelmingly positive, they would have a press conference," Cullen said. "If all of a sudden northwesterners and First Nations all loved the Enbridge pipeline, I'm sure they would try to get this on the front page of every paper in the country."
Eyford's final report is due by Nov. 29.
Meanwhile, Cullen also said he intends to launch a tour next month to talk about liquified natural gas projects in the region. He plans to start the tour on the eastern edge of his riding, with stops in Burns Lake and Fort St. James.