(Edmonton – August 26, 2014) — Six Aboriginal groups near Alberta’s oilsands are wondering where they can voice their concerns about growing development after the government said they shouldn’t be heard at a precedent-setting review of the province’s environmental plans for the area.
Alberta has told a panel conducting a review of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan that the bands aren’t directly harmed by it. The government also says the panel can’t hear concerns about treaty rights.
“The majority of concerns raised by the applicant are not related to the content of (the plan) and are therefore outside the panel’s jurisdiction and so must not be considered,” say government arguments presented to the panel.
The bands say similar arguments have been used to shut them out of public hearings on individual energy projects held by both the provincial government and its industry regulator.
They wonder just where they’re supposed to turn.
“When the nation raises cumulative impacts on treaty rights in relation to individual projects, it is told that LARP is the appropriate place to have these concerns addressed,” said Melissa Daniels, lawyer for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Now Alberta is arguing that it is inappropriate to raise these concerns with the panel specifically designed to review LARP.
“If this isn’t in bad faith, I don’t know what is.”
Click here to read the full article by Bob Weber, Canadian Press.