FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – It’s a case of “like father, like son.”
That from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief, following news at the end of last week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government would proceed with permits allowing significant construction to begin on the Site C dam.
Chief Stewart Philip says, “We’re not the least bit impressed with Trudeau’s action in comparison to his lofty public platitudes…There’s certainly a vast difference between the two.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada say work can start on everything from spillways, to drainage tunnels, to generating stations and the kilometre long earth fill dam itself.
They also authorized for the next 50 years operation of the facility following completion of the multi-billion dollar mega project, which is scheduled to ultimately divert the Peace River and flood over 5,300 hectares of land for what will become an 83 km reservoir.
The permit approvals were announced despite the unresolved legal challenges launched by First Nations, environmental groups, and landowners, and the decision signals the project construction will continue while the grievances make their way through the courts.
Chief Stewart is especially angry the decision was announced just before a long weekend, arguing it’s possible that was done deliberately, to keep the matter under the radar, and adding it was a bitter disappointment in light of the Liberal government’s pledge earlier this year to embrace the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
He also described the approval as outrageous, claiming, “It represents an absolute betrayal of all the commitments and promises Prime Minister Trudeau made during the last election.”
Not surprisingly the reaction of BC Hydro was much different, noting the authorized permits were important for the project, which now has 1,500 people on site, to continue on time and on budget.