June 30, 2008
Included below for your information is a self-explanatory exchange of correspondence between TransCanada and Lubicon Chief Ominayak.
It is well notable that it took TransCanada 6 weeks to come up with this slippery, carefully worded public relations missile. It's also well notable that it arrives at the end of June when the provincial regulatory agency is tidying its paperwork in anticipation of reconvening public hearings at the end of July. There's no question that a copy of this letter will be included in the supporting materials used by provincial regulatory authority when it rubber stamps TransCanada's provincial application or that TransCanada will use this letter in its on-going pipeline public relations campaign.
TransCanada has been on a public relations campaign for some time phoning people who've written them about the Lubicon situation claiming to be mystified about the negative Lubicon reaction to its offer to "engage" the Lubicons while simultaneously proceeding to obtain provincial approval to build a major new pipeline across Lubicon Territory whether the Lubicons like it or not. On at least one other occasion TransCanada asked someone to help them talk with the Lubicons knowing full well that the only impediment to discussions is TransCanada's refusal to recognize Lubicon land rights prior to proceeding with its application to the province but seeking to create the illusion of sweet reasonableness on TransCanada's part.
TransCanada has in fact made its position very clear in meetings with the Lubicons. During a meeting last December 17th -- after TransCanada had applied to the province falsely claiming extensive consultations with aboriginal communities and that there were no objections to their provincial application -- Rob Kendel, TransCanada's Manager of Land and Aboriginal Relations, told the Lubicons that there is "no relationship" between TransCanada simultaneously talking to the Lubicons and applying to the province for authority to build the pipeline -- that TransCanada had to apply to the province when it did in order to meet its pipeline construction timetable. Later, during a meeting on April 10th of this year mentioned in Chief Ominayak's attached letter, Art Cunningham, TransCanada's Senior Advisor on Aboriginal and Tribal Relations (and a front man for Kendel), openly told the Lubicons that TransCanada intended to proceed with construction of the pipeline whether the Lubicons objected or not.
It would be helpful if people wrote Messrs. Kendel and Cunningham and made clear that they're not deceived by TransCanada's phony proposal to ask Amnesty International to facilitate discussions between TransCanada and the Lubicons while TransCanada proceeds with its application to the Alberta government for authority to build a major new pipeline across unceded Lubicon land with or without Lubicon consent.
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TransCanada PipeLines Tower
450 - 1st Street S.W.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 5H1
June 25, 2008
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
8228 - 186 Street
Attention: Chief Bernard Ominayak
RE: Proposed North Central Corridor Pipeline Project
In your correspondence of May 15, 2008 you explain that it is not sufficient for TransCanada to have recognized that the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation has unceded land rights and that you require TransCanada to undergo a separate regulatory process and to agree to terms of non-objection.
As a company that operates internationally, TransCanada will not enter into a regulatory process without having a clear understanding of that process. Therefore, for us to proceed, we first need to fully understand what is involved in this process and the subsequent course of action that may be required.
Chief Ominayak, as you are aware, TransCanada has suggested that perhaps to reach an understanding on the process that you are suggesting, Amnesty International Canada could facilitate discussions between us. This organization is a strong supporter of the rights and social well being of Aboriginal peoples.
If you view this initiative as a feasible approach to resolving the current situation, TransCanada would take the required steps to schedule this facilitated discussion. If you are uncomfortable with this approach, we continue to be available to discuss these issues at a time and place of your convenience.
For Art Cunningham
Aboriginal and Tribal Relations
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
P.O. Box 6731
Peace River, AB T8S 1S5
Phone: (403) 629-3945
Fax: (403) 629-3939
June 28, 2008
Senior Aboriginal Policy Advisor
Aboriginal and Tribal Relations
TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.
Dear Mr. Cunningham:
Re: Your letter of June 25, 2008
There is no need for anybody to facilitate discussions between us. We can talk anytime TransCanada is prepared to recognize Lubicon land rights and deal with Lubicon concerns prior to proceeding with TransCanadas application to the Alberta government for Alberta government consent for TransCanada to proceed with construction of a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory.
Proceeding with your application to the Alberta government prior to obtaining Lubicon agreement not to oppose that provincial application, as you very well know, is tantamount to recognizing provincial assertion of jurisdiction over unceded Lubicon Territory and would effectively relegate talks with the Lubicons to a mere procedural matter under Canadian law after which -- as you yourself said during a meeting on April 10th of this year -- TransCanada intends to proceed with construction of the pipeline whether the Lubicons agree or not. Thats not recognition of Lubicon land rights. Thats a denial of Lubicon land rights.
As a company that operates internationally, nationally or just provincially TransCanada knows how to make application to the appropriate jurisdiction for authority to proceed. The only difference in this case, as you again know, is that jurisdiction is contested and TransCanada is therefore required to meet the requirements of two different jurisdictions before proceeding. Again this is not that complicated nor beyond TransCanadas comprehension. It happens all the time. To suggest otherwise is just a ruse to proceed with TransCanadas application to the province while engaging in a transparent public relations exercise to try and bamboozle the public into believing that TransCanadas refusal to recognize Lubicon land rights and deal with Lubicon concerns prior to proceeding with the provincial application is reasonable.
Amnesty International is not in the business of mediating or negotiating human rights between those who are abusing human rights and those whose human rights are being abused. Moreover recognition of Lubicon land rights is not negotiable in any case. The Lubicon people would of course be pleased for Amnesty International to have observers at any discussions between us regarding how Lubicon concerns are to be met once TransCanada agrees to recognize Lubicon land rights and deal with Lubicon concerns prior to proceeding with the provincial application.
Original Signed by
Bernard Ominayak, Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Attach: June 25, 2008 Cunningham letter
cc: Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
fol-request at masses.tao.ca