According to The Northern View “Students in Hartley Bay are able to eat healthy meals in the morning for two straight years now” due to the generosity of donations made by PETRONAS owned Pacific NorthWest LNG to the Breakfast Club of Canada. Commendable acts of charity and community engagement by corporate entities are, in themselves, beyond reproach. If this image of benevolence and need is indeed true, children are benefiting and no one should object … and yet, one might be obliged to interrogate the ethos of our social contract, if the proper feeding of the nation’s children depends on global corporate charity.
In October 2016 APTN Investigates aired ‘Lelu Island: A Resistance’, a documentary by Rob Smith. It investigates how the Lax Kw’alaams community vote against the Petronas LNG project was overturned in a new vote organized by a new band council. According to APTN 8,000 members voted out of 3,600 band members. The question on the ballot was one authorizing continued negotiations, including the arguably of concluding those negotiations. It did not specifically present the deal and seek categorical approval from the community for the project. Here is the ballot question as presented on APTN. “Provided the environment is protected, do you support council concluding agreements to maximize benefits for the Lax Kw’alaams members and continue discussions with governments and proponents to achieve successful outcomes for the Lax Kw’alaams”. Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is a Canadian broadcast and Category A cable television network established with government support in 1992. APTN has a national broadcast licence.
As the BC election campaign progresses towards the May 9th polling date, there are suggestions that the governing Liberal Party is suffering of the consequences of premier Clark’s seemingly unfulfillable promises of an LNG economy for the province. The sudden change in market conditions caused major projects to withdraw and today there is only one major project, the Petronas led Pacific NorthWest LNG investment, that still might go ahead. It is clear, however, that Petronas cannot withstand the risks in the wider LNG future alone, as there are reports that it has offered a $1 billion stake in another gas project to Shell, ExxonMobil, Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production and Japanese firms. This has no direct bearing on the BC situation but it is an indication of the sensitivity of the LNG giant to the current market conditions. Meanwhile, auguring well for BC LNG and the Provincial Liberals, the Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and the Kitselas First Nation have all signed benefits agreements in the context of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. Opposition by hereditary chiefs led by Yahan Wesley notwithstanding, first nations stakeholders have been signing on to the project, steadily shifting from the earlier refusal of offers of compensation. Of anecdotal interest is the fact that Malaysian leaders of the Pacific NorthWest LNG management team, who have thus far been behind the scenes, have started appearing in the BC media – Standing on the extreme right at the rear is Pacific NorthWest LNG chief operating officer and former Head of LNG Projects for PETRONAS, Wan Badrul Hisham.
Video published on October 2015
On October 13, 2016 I emailed Chief Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams , and leader of the Lelu Island occupation, a question. I had spoken to him by phone before but had only had minimal email communications. This recent email contact took place before the federal government approved the environmental review for the project. We were in the midst of reports and rumours that PETRONAS might consider moving their LNG plant further north, to a location with less potential for direct harm to the salmon ecology. I put it like this, “Chief, … I am wondering about your own perspective on moving the plant off the island, to the North somewhere as rumoured … is this an acceptable compromise for you and your people, or is it still a NO!… as it just shifts the burden to another area and another community”. His answer was as follows, “I would like to see environmental areas protected and this particular project goes against that … what I would like to see is more tech work done on the emissions from the plant”. The Chief,makes it clear that beyond the potential of specific damage to the Flora Banks estuary, there is the potential for a more general damage to the environment that needs to be evaluated properly. He seems to be indicating an openness to research on emissions. He seems to be asking for more science, which brings me to the question of the integrity of the science being applied and the possibility that the knowledge currently in play is the product of a scary science.