Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the B.C. First Nations LNG Summit that there will be respectful engagement of First Nations when it comes to resource extraction and development.
Our plan makes the regulatory process more protective of the environment by focusing resources on the major projects that can have significant impacts, he told the crowd in Prince George Wednesday.
He stressed that Canada must be competitive if it is to compete on the global stage.
If we permit our resources to be stranded, we will squander our legacy and forgo enormous social and economic benefits for now, and future generations, he said.
He stressed that Ottawa will not allow projects that harm the environment to proceed.
Natural resource development means employment for First Nations communities, he said.
Aboriginal engagement is not only a Crown responsibility, it is industrys best interest to engage and consult, he said.
As for LNG, Oliver said there is tremendous potential in British Columbia, adding that three licences have been approved and more are under review.
The opportunity is not just LNG, its all natural resources, he said. Over the next 10 years, as much as $650 billion could be invested in natural resource development in Canada.
He pointed out, however, that LNG will not sell itself and that is why he is travelling overseas to promote Canadas resources.
Canada is a reliable source of energy in a frequently unstable world, he said, adding Canada needs to diversify its market and the rest of the world needs to diversify its supply. And that takes securing long-term contracts for LNG.
However, some in the crowd of about 400 were unconvinced.
The music I heard this morning, Ive heard that music for 42 years, said Justa Monk of the Tlaztlen Nation. Its never changed its tune.
He drew applause from the crowd when he pointed out that the federal government helps companies pursue resource extraction opportunities, but what have you given First Nations?
There was also concern raised that while there is lots of talk about liquefied natural gas and the economic opportunities, the environment seems to be overlooked.
No one is speaking for Mother Earth, said Salteau First Nations Chief Harley Davis.
He pointed out that the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Norihiro Okuda, told the crowd that Japan can take LNG for the next 125 years.
We wont survive 125 years of sucking that stuff out of the ground, Davis said.
Grand Chief Edward John added that he hears lots of discussion that everything to do with LNG, pipelines, and environmental protection, will be world-class.
What is missing is a world-class standard for indigenous rights, he said, adding that those world-class standards already exist in a United Nations declaration.