As resistance grows against the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the massive RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en territories, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada, meeting over the Feb. 8-9 weekend in Toronto, sends greetings of solidarity to all who are in struggle today for Indigenous rights and environmental justice.
The drive by the Canadian state and big energy monopolies to complete the Coastal GasLink and TransMountain pipeline projects is a disaster on every level – a staggering attack on Indigenous sovereignty, a threat to the coastal and global environment, and a potentially massive economic blunder. In the wake of this week’s RCMP arrests and court rulings, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada stands with the Indigenous land defenders and water protectors and their environmentalist allies in the struggle to block these dangerous projects. We demand policies that put the needs of people and the environment first, and an end to the insatiable greed of the big energy monopolies which endanger the future of our planet.
The police invasion of Wet’suwet’en territories and the wave of arrests which began on Feb. 6 are a definitive signal that despite their claims to support “reconciliation” with First Nations, the provincial and federal governments are determined to push through the Coastal GasLink pipeline to supply fracked liquid natural gas to the LNG Canada plant in Kitimat. This $6.6 billion project threatens the lands and rivers which are crucial to the traditional way of life of the Wet’suwet’en people, especially the viability of their salmon fisheries. These developments would wipe out the landmark victory won in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw ruling in 1997, which established the existence of Aboriginal title over portions of 58,000 square kilometres in north-central B.C.
Similarly, the latest court rulings in favour of the TMX project establish that the terms of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – in particular the right to free, prior and informed consent over economic development projects on their traditional territories – will inevitably be put aside whenever the big energy monopolies propose new extraction and export projects.
The latest arrests and court rulings raise another spectre – that the deepening climate change crisis caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions will not be a factor considered by governments which continue to support the interests of big oil. The B.C. government has offered LNG Canada $6 billion in incentives, and the Trudeau government has offered $275 million in subsidies, as well as purchasing the TMX pipeline project at a cost of $4 billion. Canada is the fourth-largest producer of crude oil and the fifth-largest producer of natural gas in the world. These projects will substantially increase Canada’s carbon footprint, breaking previous pledges to reduce emissions. Canada is becoming a global carbon criminal, even as the RCMP invades Wet’suwet’en lands to enforce court injunctions against those who seek to defend the environment.
We also point out that energy extraction and export projects are increasingly likely to lose money under the changing conditions of international markets. Many countries are heavily committed to the shift towards renewable energy, including key markets such as China. The current price for LNG is estimated to be about one-third the production and distribution costs associated with the LNG Canada-Coastal GasLink project, for example, and oil prices are not expected to rise to the level needed to make TMX expansion profitable. No amount of rhetoric by premiers and prime ministers can change world energy prices; dumping more oil and LNG into the glut on global markets will not change this reality. On the contrary, pumping billions of taxpayer dollars into big energy projects simply makes it more difficult to invest in renewable energy, mass transit, and basic human needs.
The Communist Party of Canada extends our full solidarity to the Wet’suwet’en and to other First Nations struggling to block these projects. We will continue to call for a People’s Energy Policy for Canada, based on genuine acceptance of the terms of UNDRIP, public ownership of the energy industry, and dramatic steps to cut Canada’s carbon footprint.
Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Feb 9, 2020