B.C. Liberal MLA on LNG Pipeline and resource development
The Post Millennial interviewed Ellis Ross, the B.C. Liberal MLA for the riding of Skeena to discuss Indigenous involvement, welfare, and public-private partnerships as it relates to British Columbia’s $40 billion LNG pipeline and terminal.
As an Indigenous man himself, Ross has been a long-time proponent of Indigenous involvement in developing pipelines. Advocating for LNG projects became an opportunity for employment and self-improvement amongst struggling bands, like Haisla First Nation.
Born and raised in Kitimat, Ross has seen the modernization and environmental improvement in his community firsthand. With more significant investment into energy resources in the area, he believes the community can continue to grow and flourish.
TPM: As someone who has encouraged responsible resource development for over a decade, what do LNG Canada’s approval of a new $40 billion terminal and pipeline in the region signify to you?
Ross: God, it addresses so many issues I dealt with as Chief Counsel, for my people, for my community, as well as for the region. I could see that the social problems my people were facing were mainly in part because they really couldn’t see a future for themselves. And in that, I could see why they couldn’t see anything worthwhile in life, so they just resorted to the wrong side of things like drugs and alcohol and suicide, and welfare, poverty.
It’s got to do with an individual’s opportunity to go and get a job and support themselves and support the people they love. That means that my dreams of this region prospering and all the people benefiting is starting to become a reality as we speak.
TPM: In a recent interview, you had mentioned this notion of an “Indian Act mentality,” which sort of suggests that, because of what happened in the past that everybody who was a victim of past transgressions will remain in that state. Does this new project help the process of reconciliation?
Ross: I’ve never tackled that, in a practical sense, because I could never define it.
I never really got in too deep on that subject. I just thought, look, if we want to address the native issues in Canada, an excellent place to start is getting the Aboriginals to a place where they can help themselves, and that means getting them a good job so they can become independent.
If we can do that, we can start talking about Reconciliation.
TPM: Coming from the only band in Canada to sign a tripartite agreement with the federal and provincial governments, allowing B.C. on reserve land to enforce their regulations on natural gas, does this exemplify the sort of relations you would like to see more of when it comes to resource development?
Ross: That agreement we’re talking about is called the Commercial Industry Development. And it was more of a jurisdictional agreement between Canada, the company to enforce regulations on reserve land.
That agreement highlighted something that I think needs to be addressed in terms of Reconciliation, because a lot of advisors and leaders didn’t understand that agreement, including provincial and national leaders who believed that I had found a way to giveaway land rights.
I sent a very scathing, critical letter back to one of these leaders that said, ‘look, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, maybe you shouldn’t even talk about it at all.’
What people don’t understand about communities like mine, is in terms of where we came from, and what we’re trying to accomplish. That agreement today still stands. It’s doing exactly what it was intended to do, and it’s seamless.
Let’s face it, my band does not have the capacity to enforce regulations on reserve or off reserve in terms of standards, or regulations set up by B.C. and Canada, but alone our policies and bylaws don’t really match up to what something like the B.C. oil and gas commission is actually set up to do. So this is very complimentary, it’s perfect.
A lot of synergy between Canada and private industry occurred because of my band. It helped [open] the door. Other corporations say, yeah, we can come in. And we could do business with a band like Haisla because they get larger issues at play here.
TPM: Canada’s federal regulator, the National Energy Board, will not subject the project to additional scrutiny. Is this due to better consultations with Indigenous communities in B.C.?
Ross: No, it was expected. When you look at the argument, I thought [the National Energy Board] was saying that federal jurisdiction applied to pipelines.
When I first saw this argument, I was hoping that the NDP would see through this and say, look, this is just another tactic to stall the project. If you control a project, that’s as good as killing a project, so I had a strong suspicion they would rule in favour only because B.C. has adequate jurisdiction over pipelines in B.C.
TPM: The 670-kilometre long pipeline is going to be entirely in B.C. Do you foresee the Horgan administration, making any additional attempts to delay the project, as we’ve seen with TMX?
Ross: I don’t see them encouraging any new pipelines or any new LNG plants in B.C. They’ve got a fundamental need to keep their junior Green partners happy. And the Green Party does not like the idea of large scale energy projects in B.C. Even though it’s all understood that we want to displace coal in India and China, and therefore they need a cleaner-burning fuel.
The Green Party refuses to acknowledge [pipelines] as one of the solutions to global warming. So I hope that the NDP government sees that getting LNG off the ground [to markets] like those in Asia. That’s the next step. I’m hoping our NDP government will get aggressive in getting these other LNG projects off the ground.
TPM: What would be your message to those from the Green Party or those who are firmly against any additional responsible resource development projects? What is your message to them to convince them that a pragmatic solution is needed rather than an ideological one?
Ross: The NDP has been very hypocritical. They say they want to protect the killer whale from increased traffic, but at the same time, they increase traffic. The cruise ship traffic is going to rise for Vancouver this year. And they have said nothing about the American tankers coming from Alaska to Washington State Park right across from Victoria. They said nothing about that.
Why are we listening to politicians who have no experience in oil and gas economics talking about how it’s a ‘dying industry’ when we know for a fact that China, India and other Asian markets are all screaming for our energy products?
Some of these contracts we’re talking about going to Asia, they’re like 20, 30, 40-year long term contracts. By the way, every time an LNG project gets shut down in B.C., the United States opens up another facility take advantage of us not being there in Asia.
This is why I don’t believe that politicians should be making decisions for the future because we politicians are not experts.
TPM: Do you think that encouraging private industry to invest in greener technologies to reduce the impacts of carbon emissions is more effective than instituting a carbon levy or a carbon tax?
Ross: Here in B.C., we’ve got many new taxes, we’ve taken the Medical Services Plan from the individual thing, and we put that on to the corporate, business community. We’re putting all these costs on the industry at the same time, and we think ‘Oh, yeah, and invest in clean technology.’
All these companies are so busy trying to look at their bottom line and figure out how much money is left over after they pay taxes. [Clean technology] seems to be the lesser priority when they’re just trying to stay solvent. The biggest victim is smaller businesses, and they can’t sustain this.
So if we’re going to have a climate change discussion, in terms of what the private sector is doing great, but let’s have the public sector do the same thing.
The public sector is travelling all over the place in their planes and cars, just like the regular private sector, private citizens. The solution has got to be all hands on deck if we want to tackle this problem. It can’t be just tax, tax, tax, where you take the revenues for everything under the sun, but fail to reduce our emissions, which is what is happening right now.
TPM: What would be something that needs to happen to sort of bridge the divide between the private sector and the public sector?
Ross: The one glaring problem that I can see is misinformation, and it’s intentional. It’s this idea that somehow Canadians are evil people, and we’re destroying the planet, and all we’re thinking about is money and energy, and blah, blah, blah.
So, I find that one of the biggest problems for me as a politician is how I am supposed to determine what the truth is and what the facts are? Even when I have all these resources at my disposal, I still can’t figure out who’s telling the truth. How is the ordinary citizen supposed to sift through all this?
There’s got to be a way for the average person to look at unbiased, non-political information in terms of what’s happening globally, nationally, potentially, regionally. At the very least we need to capture information together so that we’re not being misled.
TPM: Is this something that the B.C. Liberals need to do in terms of taking back the narrative on environmental conservation rather than preservation?
Ross: Conservation versus preservation? You know, we’ve had that discussion here in Kitimat for quite some time. I had this argument with one little lady, and she said we have ‘very few’ trees and can’t afford to cut down them all down. I said: do you know how many trees are in B.C.? Do you know how much land that cannot be touched? Just because of accessibility, or those trees are not commercially viable?
There are frickin billions upon billions upon billions of trees in B.C. There are so many different narratives that can be talked about reasonably if people came to the table with an open mind. The [higher standard of] living and the comfort that we have is because of resource development. We shouldn’t close the door on the energy debate.
Without discussing how you got that standard of living, how the electricity comes in the house, how that work comes into your home, how you tell the community, and how the hospital services are resources, it’s hard to have a discussion.
Nobody talks about business development, the benefits when you want to say no, but then enjoy the benefits of research development as we speak. So I think a narrative, yes, but definitely, we have to have a mature conversation about the realities of business.
TPM: With pipelines a deciding issue for the upcoming federal election, what would be the take-home message to those on the fence, regarding responsible resource development?
Ross: We are faced with a problem that cannot be solved solely with taxpayer dollars. There’s not enough money in the world to address the average listener in Canada.
At the very least, we should understand the rationale for First Nations’ of oil and gas projects. They want to be in a position financially where they can address their issues, on their terms, without heavy-handed governments behind the funding agreement telling them what to do with every nickel and dime.
This has been proven all across Canada and B.C. Right now, our First Nations are benefiting from revenues generated from natural resource development. They’re investing these monies into social programs that help people directly.
The results speak for themselves when you see less Aboriginal people going to prison and fewer kids going into government care. When we see less of our people sign up for welfare, it’s a sign of better, more hopeful days ahead.
It’s got nothing to do with being Aboriginal or our respective culture; the onus is on the individual. I’m grateful to have a job where I can put food on the table and provide my kids with a future worth believing in. It’s for that reason that many Aboriginals support responsible business development.
Canadian trans activist Jessica Yaniv has been threatened with legal action after telling her Twitter followers that The Post Millennial‘s Amy Eileen Hamm sexually assaulted her. So to avoid this, Yaniv must issue a full public apology and retract her statement immediately.
The original incident occurred on January 15th, in which Yaniv accused Hamm on twitter of sexually assaulting her in the courthouse. Yaniv described the incident as “vicious,” stating that she had to seek out a rape crisis centre.
The legal letter that was sent to Yaniv after this incident, stated that “Ms. Hamm intends to commence legal action against you. Your lies have publicly damaged her. She has suffered embarrassment and humiliation … you are much larger and more psychically imposing, dwarfing her psychically.”
The letter went on to say, “We hereby demand a public apology and immediate retraction of your defamation … further harassment of Ms. Hamm will be met with immediate legal action.”
This letter will come as a blow to Yaniv who is currently facing other legal troubles. Yesterday, the trans activist was arrested and charged with assault after lashing out and smacking a Rebel Media commentator on camera.
Yaniv’s alleged assault of the Rebel Media commentator was outside a courthouse where she appeared in court on weapons charges, after revealing she owned a taser on Blaire White’s Youtube Channel.
After causing many delays, protestors have left the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, located north of Victoria, B.C. They were blocking the terminal and denying people access on Monday.
The protestors claim to be working alongside Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in attempting to cancel a liquified natural gas pipeline being implemented by Coastal GasLink. The pipeline is being built in north central B.C.
NEWS 1130 reported that the group was protesting on Highway 17 and were even in the water in kayaks too.
An online statement released by the protestors says, “In response to the recent call from the Wet’suwet’en for solidarity actions that ‘shut down rail lines, ports, and industrial infrastructure’ this action has targeted BC Ferries because of the corporation’s deepening integration with the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry,”
“BC Ferries has proposed ‘upgrades’ to two of its ferries that will make them reliant on the very product that Coastal GasLink (CGL) threatens to bring through Wet’suwet’en territory.”
Dozens of protestors took part in the event and used their banners to cover signs at the terminal.
Since being proposed, the pipeline has even caused violent encounters between protestors and police.
After coming to agreements with 20 First Nation councils, Coastal GasLink is attempting to build the pipeline from northeastern B.C. all the way to Kitimat, B.C. The pipeline will reportedly stretch 670 kilometers.
According to the hereditary clan chiefs, the project can not continue without their permission.
On Monday, Deborah Marshall from BC Ferries noted, “We fully respect the rights of individuals to protest decisions that they don’t agree with, but our concern is allowing our customers to have safe and unimpeded access to our terminal.”
“At our Swartz Bay terminal right now, the lanes are blocked. The lanes leading into the terminal, so no customers are able to access the terminal at this point, so it’s affecting all of our routes sailing in and out of Swartz Bay right now.”
A wealthy businessman who was well-connected to Asian organized crime was permitted to buy a stake in a British Columbian Lottery Group casino, according to Global News.
The government official who allowed the transaction to occur was later hired by the casino in question.
Asian organized crime has been reported to have dipped their tentacles into British Columbian casinos. This was made starkly apparent through a 2009 RCMP report. Asian women with gambling debts, for instance, were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work.
As a result of this, the RCMP report robustly concluded that the police should be targeting B.C. casinos as a way of combatting money laundering.
Despite this, the British Columbian government decided to defund and then disband the illegal gaming unit, provoking outcry amongst those who wanted to see a more transparent gambling industry in the province.
Earlier this month, a caretaker at Jewish summer camp spotted “crude images and swastikas” according to a CBC News report.
Camp Miriam, one of the few Jewish overnight summer camps in the B.C. region, located on Gabriola Island, an island between the mainland and Vancouver Island, in close proximity to Nanaimo, was the target in the hate-motivated graffiti incident.
After discovering the graffiti, one of the camp’s committee members, Kelley Korbin confirmed it has been reported to the RCMP. The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is also aware of the troubling incident. The two groups, along with the hate crimes unit of the Vancouver Police department are examing the incident.
Ezra Shanken, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver told NEWS 1130 that “it’s almost like no corner of the globe is immune. We’re talking about a camp sitting on an island in the Strait that has not so many people on it.”
Korbin described the camp on priding itself on being “a progressive overnight camp where children learn about Jewish history, leadership and the environment.”
While there has been continued news coverage of antisemitic incidents in Canada, the United States and around the world, “this is the first time in (her) memory that Camp Miriam has been a direct recipient of an attack,” Korbin said.
The incident came to light after a tweet by Sheila Malcolmson, the MLA for Nanaimo, and Gabriola Island was shared.
The camp is a member of Habonim Dror, a Labour Zionist movement, one of the many Jewish organizations within the Kibbutz Movement. Habonim Dror has camps in 15 countries, and two camps in Canada alone.
Swastikas are generally the most common form of antisemitic graffiti in the Jewish diaspora. They are antisemitic to their core, and always have the interest of hatred against the Jewish community, regardless of their sect or affiliation.
Jewish summer camps are unlikely targets for antisemitic attacks, however, and this brings to light yet another type of Jewish institution that will need much more attention with regards to security as the unfortunate worldwide wave of antisemitism continues to spread.
The camp subsequently painted over the graffiti and are reviewing the organization’s security protocol.