Government claims to support free, prior and informed consent, but bought TMX without it

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 15/04/2021 18:17:52
Context: Questions and Comments

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Madam Speaker, this may be my only opportunity to speak to the legislation before us.

I am deeply troubled by the fact that this government, which professes the high purposes of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples appears in practice to decide that free, prior and informed consent means to continue to coerce first nations until they give consent to a decision that has already been made. I refer to the Trans Mountain pipeline as an example, which the Government of Canada bought without conferring with first nations, as we should have done. It continues, as elected members of council of the first nation in my territory, which I am honoured to represent, the territory of the WSANEC Nation, have told me that the TMX, now a Crown corporation, comes to them offering money to try to get them to stop objecting. That is not free or prior consent, and yet that is what is being practised right now—

Arif Virani (Parkdale—High Park)
2021-04-15 18:19 [p.5712]

Madam Speaker, this is an important issue. It is an issue that is obviously a dynamic one and an issue that will be considered on an ongoing basis.
However, what I was about to relate from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond I think captures the idea in response to the member’s question. She said, as counsel for the AFN, that “The idea that free, prior and informed consent is some kind of a veto is simply not supported, and that is not how it’s operationalized.” That is an important point to register.

With respect to the timing of the negotiations and the timing of the outreach to first nations communities, be they elected leaders, hereditary chiefs or other individuals, that is a very valid point that the member is raising, and something that we will continue to work on as a government and as all parliamentarians to ensure that this consultation is sought at the earliest possible opportunity.