April 28, 2008
On Friday, April 25, supporters of the Lubicon Nation confronted TransCanada at its Annual General Meeting in Calgary.
A crowd of over sixty demonstrators assembled outside the TransCanada shareholders meeting to hand out information about the Lubicon Nation and the companys plans to construct a jumbo gas pipeline across Lubicon Traditional Territory without Lubicon consent.
After addressing the crowd outside, Reinie Jobin, a member of the Lubicon Elders Council, went into the meeting along with Reverend Clint Mooney and Kevin Thomas, who were representing TransCanada shareholders concerned about the companys mistreatment of the Lubicon people.
Inside the meeting, Kevin Thomas stood up during the question period and addressed TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle. He said that last week at the Alberta Utilities Commission pre-hearing meeting on the North Central Crossing pipeline application, the Lubicon Nation told the company that it would fight the pipeline "every inch of the way" if TransCanada doesnt obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose the pipeline. He said that there was a protest outside the AGM that day. He said it seems like a substantial risk to TransCanadas operations if the company doesnt move to obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose this pipeline. He asked Kvisle, given the pipeline is going through an area where the land has not been ceded in Treaty -- in which the land title is in dispute -- what is TransCanada doing to mitigate that risk and what is it going to do to obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose the pipeline.
Kvisle said "The Lubicon situation of course is a complicated one that has been around for many decades and, um, TransCanadas position on this is that were here to build pipelines, were here to provide essential infrastructure, and we do get these projects done as best we can. Weve got several decades of excellent relationships with the aboriginal community in all parts of Canada, and I note that we are the partner of the Aboriginal people of the McKenzie Valley under the structure of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. So there should be no question of TransCanadas commitment to working with Aboriginal people to have these projects turn out in the best possible way.
"The complication in the Lubicon situation," he said, "is in fact the absence of agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, and the Lubicon people as to effectively who owns what up there, and who is the party that we need to deal with in terms of securing access to right of way. It would be, I think, a mistake for TransCanada to become deeply involved in what is essentially an issue between the governments of Alberta and Canada and the people of the Lubicon.
"So we look forward to building this pipeline," Kvisle continued. "We continue to work with the Lubicon people and their representatives and we are prepared to do all the things that we would normally do in a circumstance like this, including helping with education, helping people, uh, get good careers and good jobs, perhaps with our company."
He said "We do a lot of contracting with aboriginal interests in terms of right of way clearing and roads on these construction projects. And were prepared to do all of those things. So generally most Aboriginal peoples that we would deal with would see TransCanada as a very constructive company that works hard, uh, to deliver benefits to the Aboriginal people we interact with, and we will take that same approach into this project."
Thomas asked Kvisle "Are you prepared to obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose the pipeline."
Kvisle said "Um, we have, uh, exchanged a number of different letters with the Lubicon in which they have asked us to do different things, and we have delivered on most of those agreements. The Lubicon do ask us to make a statement that we recognize that Lubicon land is Lubicon land. And that of course is a matter for the Lubicon and governments to work out and its not appropriate for TC to make that declaration we dont know."
Thomas responded, "The question is, if there is a dispute, shouldnt you go to both sides in the dispute to the Alberta Utilities Commission to get their approval, and to the Lubicon to get their approval --and thereby remove yourselves from the dispute?"
Thomas said, "Dont take sides."
Kvisle said "Its a complex matter and I think the Alberta Utilities Commission is the right body to, uh, hear the issue and rule on it. We have confidence in the regulatory process. We have our own frustrations with the delay that we see in the federal government dealing with land claim issues in many different parts of Canada. And, you know, weve learned in projects like the McKenzie, in projects like our pipeline through northern Ontario, in projects, uh, like the Keystone pipeline that were implementing today, that there are issues that are the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to deal with, and these are not our issues. And it, uh, is not constructive for TransCanada to be involved in aspects of the project that are that are not ours to resolve.
"We will build a very good pipeline," he said, "we will do it with minimal impact on the environment, we will do it with minimal impact on people living in the region, weve got a great track record in that respect, and that is the way we will continue to pursue these projects."
He said, "Next question."
Reverend Clint Mooney said that as a representative of KAIROS [a Canadian Ecumenical Coalition that has corresponded with TransCanada on the Lubicon issue] he had read TransCanadas side of the correspondence with the Lubicon Nation.
He said that TransCanadas response "is very much a question of ethics." In the correspondence, he said, "I think theres been delay on the part of the company and an attempt to end run the Lubicons." He said that he doesnt think what the Lubicons are seeking is unreasonable at all.
"In fact" he said, "you could accede to them."
He said they need "some basis of trust" between the company and the Lubicon and "constructive engagement and dialogue."
He said he had read both sides of the issue and that TransCanada representive Art Cunninghams correspondence is "really questionable."
Kvisle said that the company "complies with the highest ethical standards" and "respect[s] the rights of people in all parts of our business". He said that he didnt think the companys commitment to ethical behaviour should be of any concern to Mr. Mooney.
Reverend Mooney responded that in this instance, he wouldnt agree that the highest ethical standards have been maintained. He said the correspondence from Art Cunningham on behalf of TransCanada said otherwise.
Kvisle said "I take exception to that. The people dealing with the Lubicon, including Mr. Cunningham, have conducted themselves very well."
Needless to say, Mr. Kvisle is wrong. Reverend Mooney is right. TransCanada is not conducting themselves ethically in their dealings with the Lubicon Nation. If TransCanada were conducting themselves ethically in their dealings with the Lubicon Nation, they would refrain from taking sides in the Lubicon land rights dispute by agreeing to obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose the pipeline before seeking licenses from Alberta regulators on land that is under dispute.
Proceeding with the application for a license from only one side in the dispute merely perpetuates and adds to the injustice being done to the Lubicon people.
If Mr. Kvisle doesnt want to obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose the pipeline, or is concerned about getting "deeply involved in what is essentially an issue between the governments of Alberta and Canada and the people of the Lubicon", TransCanada can always build their damn pipeline somewhere else.
Below is some related media coverage.
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Alberta aboriginal group protests proposed pipeline at TransCanada meeting
April 25, 2008 - 18:07
The Canadian Press
CALGARY - The chief executive of TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) was confronted with some questions at the company's shareholder meeting Friday about how it intends to handle a dispute with a northern Alberta aboriginal group over a proposed pipeline.
Members of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation and their supporters protested outside the meeting in Calgary, demanding the pipeline builder halt plans to construct the $1-billion North Central Corridor pipeline until it gets permission from the band.
The Lubicon have never ceded their land to the Canadian government and therefore do not think it is the Alberta Utility Commission's place to approve the pipeline, which will run directly through their territory.
"This is fairly easy for TransCanada to resolve. They just have to accept that the Lubicons do have rights there, and therefore they have to deal with them in a fair and straightforward manner," Kevin Thomas of Toronto-based Friends of the Lubicon said in an interview.
"And if they do that, I think they'll find that the Lubicons are willing to deal with them in a straightforward manner, too."
Inside the meeting, Thomas asked TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle whether failure to reach an agreement with the Lubicon would pose a risk to the pipeline.
Thomas does not own any TransCanada shares, but said he posed his question on behalf of shareholders.
"There should be no question about TransCanada's commitment to working with aboriginal people, to have these projects turn out in the best possible way," Kvisle replied to Thomas.
He said the company has "excellent" relationships with other aboriginal groups, citing as an example TransCanada's collaboration with the Aboriginal Pipeline Group on the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Rev. Clint Mooney, a TransCanada shareholder who also belongs to a church group that supports the Lubicon, told Kvisle that he would like the company's board of directors to make human rights and the environment more of a priority.
"I would really like to ask the board to raise the profile of ethical concerns and state the company's support for good corporate citizenship," Mooney said.
Kvisle said he "took exception" to the suggestion that those matters aren't a priority for the company.
"Failure to attend to these things would be a risk to any corporation of our stature, so we do take them very seriously," he said.
The reason TransCanada is so reluctant to ask the First Nation's permission for the project is that authority over the land is under dispute, Kvisle added.
"It would be, I think, a mistake for TransCanada to become deeply involved in what is essentially an issue between the governments of Alberta and Canada and the people of the Lubicon."
David Swann, a member of the legislature for the Alberta Liberals, said he thinks the Alberta government should be brokering an agreement between TransCanada and the native group.
"I hold the Alberta government responsible for continuing to allow unfettered development on First Nations territories without proper consultation, without a proper land use framework ... and without respect to the long-term best interest to the public," said Swann, who was standing with the Lubicon outside the meeting.
"The government should be brokering the meaningful consultation between First Nations and corporations and make sure that ... First Nations interests and human rights are protected - and they're not doing that in Alberta."
APTN National News
April 25, 2008
Announcer: More than fifty years after they were first promised a reserve, the Lubicon people of northern Alberta are still fighting for their rights. Today they took their message to shareholders of the energy giant TransCanada, a company thats planning on putting a pipeline through their traditional territory. APTNs Sean Amato was at the protest in Calgary.
Reinie Jobin, Lubicon Elders Council: They threatened to come there and build that pipeline whether we like it or not.
Amato: Joined by a small army of protestors, Reinie Jobin is speaking up against a corporate giant. TransCanada plans on building a billion dollar pipeline through land he claims belongs to his people, the Lubicon of northern Alberta.
Jobin: We have gravesites up there of my people. The people have lived up there before Canada was Canada. Weve been up there for thousands of years. But they dont recognize that, and its all because of greed.
Amato: Jobin and other Lubicon supporters gathered to protest outside of TransCanadas annual shareholders meeting in Calgary. Inside the meeting, TransCanadas CEO reaffirmed his companys plan to build the pipeline.
TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle: We will build a very good pipeline, we will do it with minimal impact on the environment, we will do it with minimal impact on people living in the region.
Amato: Kvisle says its on the government to deal with the Lubicon, but outside the protestors are reminding Canadians that thats not happening either.
Carolyn Pogue, Lubicon supporter: Im sixty years old, and for my entire life the Lubicon have been waiting for justice. Theyve been waiting for Canada to treat them properly. Can you imagine? Im old. But thats older! Thats why Im here. Lets get organized. Get it done.
Amato: The Lubicons are hoping their message reaches far beyond the skyline of Calgary, all the way to Parliament Hill in Ottawa. They have been fighting the federal government for their land rights ever since 1939. That is the first time an Indian Affairs agent visited their community and promised them a reserve. A similar promise was made in 1993 by then-Leader of the Opposition Jean Chretien. In a letter sent to Lubicon supporters, Chretien wrote: "We believe the government has reneged on its fiduciary responsibility to the Lubicon people." Chretien also wrote "It is time for action." But after ten years as the Prime Minister of Canada, Chretien did not make good on his promise to the Lubicon people, nor has any other Prime Minister before or after.
For APTN National News, Im Sean Amato in Calgary.
Aboriginal group protests proposed pipeline at TransCanada meeting
April 25, 2008 - 12:00 pm
Canadian Press & 660 News Staff
On a day when TransCanada shareholders are celebrating a 69% jump in profits, a group of protesters are demanding the corporation stop its plans to construct a gas pipeline through the middle of disputed land.
Members of the Lubicon First Nation and their supporters protested outside the pipeline builder's annual meeting, demanding the Lubicon be consulted before the company builds a billion-dollar pipeline.
CEO Hal Kvisle says there should be "no question" about TransCanada's commitment to working with aboriginals.
He said it would be a mistake to get involved with negotiations between the provincial and federal governments and the Lubicon over a long outstanding land claims.
Lubicon Protestors Rally Outside TransCanada Meeting
Protesters hoping to disrupt a shareholders meeting for TransCanada Pipelines didn't get very far - in fact - the majority couldn't even get in the building.
The group was protesting a proposed gas pipeline they say will run through First Nations territory in northern Alberta.
About 40 protesters marched to the Roundup Centre on the Stampede grounds Friday, hoping to gain access or at least disrupt the TransCanada Pipelines AGM but security told the group it was private property and asked them to leave.
Reinie Jobin, a Lubicon Lake First Nation elder, was one of two people actually allowed inside the building.
The rest of the group continued their march outside - with Calgary Police and security following along.
CALGARY _ The chief executive of TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) faced some questions at the pipeline builder´s annual meeting about a dispute with a northern Alberta aboriginal group.
Members of the Lubicon First Nation and their supporters protested outside the meeting in Calgary, demanding the Lubicon be consulted before the company builds a billion-dollar pipeline through their land.
One shareholder told CEO Hal Kvisle he worries about possible delays and regulatory wrangling similar to what has been seen with the Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project.
Another said he was not impressed with the way the company has been dealing with the Lubicon.
Kvisle said there should be "no question" about TransCanada´s commitment to working with aboriginals.
He said it would be a mistake to get involved with negotiations between the provincial and federal governments and the Lubicon over a long outstanding land claims.
Pipeline giant eyes expanded project
TransCanada plans second line to ship crude to Texas
Published: Saturday, April 26, 2008
TransCanada Corp., on the brink of construction of its $5.2-billion Keystone oil pipeline, is already planning a massive Keystone expansion that will cost more than the project's first phase and deliver another 750,000 barrels a day of Alberta crude directly to refinery row on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
The Calgary pipeline and power giant said it has made "excellent progress" in talks with Alberta producers and U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, so it will hold an open season to lock up firmer commitments for a Keystone expansion in the next few months, TransCanada's CEO Hal Kvisle said Friday.
"It will be a very big system and will deliver right through -- from one system (Alberta) to the other (Texas)," Kvisle told reporters at TransCanada's annual shareholders meeting. "The construction (of Keystone) would roll into construction of the other," he said. "It's advantageous to us in terms of procuring pipe -- the pipe mills can be kept busy longer -- and in terms of securing contractors."
All told, the entire proposed Keystone system could move roughly 1.3 million barrels of Alberta-produced oil a day south before the mid-point of the next decade.
The maximum capacity of the first phase is set at 600,000 barrels, with first oil flowing in late 2009. Capacity of the second phase, which will track a different route from Alberta and include a larger 36-inch (91- centimetre) diameter pipe, could reach 750,000 barrels.
Big oilsands producer ConocoPhillips has committed to be a major shipper on Keystone's first phase and it also recently bought into the project, acquiring a 50 per cent stake.
The Keystone expansion would not consist of a parallel twinning or an addition of pump stations. For the most part, the Keystone expansion is an entirely separate line.
Keystone's second phase will exit southeastern Alberta's pipeline hub at Empress, travel southeast to a junction in northern Nebraska and from there head straight south, ending at Port Arthur on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Keystone's first phase heads east out of Alberta to Winnipeg on TransCanada's 50-year-old mainline, which has been converted to carry oil rather than natural gas. From Winnipeg, phase one heads due south to Cushing, Okla., and there a leg heads due east to refineries in Wood River, Ill.
TransCanada is in a race with rivals such as Enbridge Inc. to move Alberta oil to Texas, where refineries can handle heavier oil blends and already have coking capacity because they traditionally received heavy oil from Venezuela.
Kvisle said higher volumes of Alberta heavy oil flowing to the Gulf Coast will help spur demand in North America's largest refining market and serve to narrow the price differential between Alberta wellhead prices and Texas refineries.
"Both projects (Keystone one and two) are in the broad public interest of Alberta and Canada," Kvisle said.
TransCanada has nearly $10 billion worth of pipeline and power projects to develop over the next three years, not including the Keystone expansion.
The Calgary company, which is also North America's largest natural gas shipper, drew fire from supporters of Alberta's Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, who demonstrated at the meeting against a $1-billion plan to build a link across northern Alberta -- and through Lubicon territory -- to connect new gas production in British Columbia and Alberta's northwest to TransCanada's half-empty trunk line down Alberta's eastern border.
Protests dog Alberta PR campaign
Globe and Mail
April 27, 2008 at 8:11 pm EDT
Calgary Conservationists will be rolling out an advertising campaign and dispatching polar-bear-suit-clad protesters this week in an attempt to derail Alberta's mission to Washington that is aimed at propping up the province's environmental image south of the border.
Ron Stevens, Alberta's deputy premier and Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, said he will stress his province's commitment to "environmentally sustainable development of the oil sands" when he meets with U.S. government officials, industry representatives and policy analysts this week.
But he will also be trailed by protesters and a full-page newspaper ad featuring an oil-soaked maple leaf that describes Canada's oil sands as a major contributor to global warming and a supplier to the United States of the "world's dirtiest oil."
The $12,000 (U.S.) ad that will run Tuesday in Roll Call, Washington's congressional newspaper, is backed by a coalition of environmental groups, which also criticize Alberta's soon to be launched $25-million advertising campaign aimed at improving the province's "brand" and "perception.
"We can't compete with a $25-million PR budget that the Alberta government's allocated to try and convince lawmakers in Washington that everything's okay," said Aaron Freeman, policy director of the Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based advocacy group that is backing the U.S. advertising.
"But at the end of the day, we don't need that kind of budget because you can't paint a black hole green and the tar sands is a very big, black hole."
Industry plans to spend $100-billion over the next decade in northern Alberta's oil sands with an eye to tripling oil production. Meanwhile, a fraction of that has been spent on developing clean and renewable energy. Still, Mr. Stevens plans to tell U.S. officials about Alberta's commitment to clean energy, its greenhouse-gas reduction policy and its $148-million investment in developing technology that could capture and store emissions.
ForestEthics, an international non-profit environmental group also behind the ad, is promising to don polar bear suits as they follow the Alberta delegation.
"We have bad climate policy in Canada largely because of the tar sands," said Gillian McEachern, who campaigns on climate and boreal forest issues. "The federal government can act to clean it up."
Critics also want to ensure that new U.S. energy legislation designed to cut down consumption of fuel derived from dirty sources will apply to the oil sands. But Mr. Stevens will be lobbying so that new fuel requirement in the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act doesn't affect Alberta, which is a major energy exporter to the United States.
Mark Cooper, a spokesman travelling with the deputy premier, said there's "no doubt" Alberta needs to do more on the environmental front, but this mission aims to "correct the myths, inaccuracies and distortions" about the province's record.
"We're not going to allow props and polar bear suits to get in the way of telling the true story," he said.
A "stop the tar sands" campaign dogged Premier Ed Stelmach's provincial election campaign this year and public opinion polls routinely show concern about the rapid pace of development, but his Progressive Conservative Party still won in a landslide, grabbing 72 of the legislature's 83 seats.
Still, attacks on government and industry are not relenting.
At the Premier's fundraising dinner in Edmonton last week, two Greenpeace members descended from the rafters and unfurled a banner that read, "$telmach: the best Premier oil money can buy" as 1,000 party faithful looked on.
It was an embarrassing and serious security breach. The activists were later charged with trespassing.
Last week, about 50 protesters, including members of the Lubicon Cree, rallied outside pipeline company TransCanada Corp.'s annual general meeting in Calgary to complain about unresolved land claims and to ask for a more thorough environmental assessment in an area north of Edmonton where the company plans to build a major natural gas pipeline to feed oil-sands production.
Also last week, environmentalists protested at the annual meeting in Toronto of EnCana Corp., which is already charged with violating Canada's Wildlife Act by allegedly installing pipeline without a permit in Canadian Forces Base Suffield National Wildlife Area, where it now hopes to pursue further drilling.
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