NDP Aboriginal Relations critic Doug Donaldson doesn't believe the provincial government is being sincere when seeking to collaborate with Aboriginal groups around the future of liquefied natural gas development.
"What industry knows and what the B.C. Liberals should know is that if you don't get your ducks in a row, if you don't do a proper job, if you gloss over sincerity, if you go for hype instead of fact, then you're going to have delays from First Nations who want have a rational discussion and projects won't proceed," Donaldson said during a visit to Prince George for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) summit hosted by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.
Donaldson pointed to a speech by Aboriginal and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad which touted the benefits of increased LNG developments and the benefits for First Nations. Rustad also spoke of the need for all sides to work together quickly to get the resource to Asian markets.
What Rustad didn't say in his speech, but what Donaldson believes should have been included, was a decision by the Wet'suwet'en to opt out of the discussion process around the Pacific Trail Pipeline.
"When you say sincere collaboration but forget to mention that there's one First Nation that's adamantly opposed to the pipelines going across their territory, I think that's actually insincere and not being truthful and honest," Donaldson said.
"I think what we need is a rational, open, thoughtful discussion on the actual worth of this industry, both economically, environmentally, socially, culturally and by glossing over facts like the one I just mentioned, it doesn't help."
Pacific Trail will transport natural gas from Summit Lake, north of Prince George to Kitimat where it will connect with a liquefaction plant to ship the resource to Asian markets. The route of the pipeline crosses through the Wet'suwet'en's traditional territory.
Rustad will be in Smithers on Friday to talk to the Wet'suwet'en about their concerns and he remains optimistic any obstacles can be overcome.
"You can't expect everybody to say, yes right away, so we need to be able to understand, we need to be able to engage respectfully and we need to be able to find ways to resolve those issues which is what we're trying to do," he said.
"Our goal is try to make sure we can realize the potential of the LNG and in particular aboriginal communities in the area have the opportunity available to fully participate and have that shared prosperity and benefit."