Cullen gives feds an F for allowing construction start on Site C

OTTAWA — The green light Liberals gave on Wednesday to the start of construction of the Site C dam is sending up more red flags about Justin Trudeau’s commitment to a clean environment, sustainable energy and First Nations treaty rights, NDP Environment and Climate Change critic Nathan Cullen charged today.

“We’ve all been hoping against hope that Mr. Trudeau would stick to his repeated promises to invest in clean energy, climate change and a green economy,”  said Cullen, who, along with caucus colleague Romeo Saganash, grilled Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr on Site C in Question Period this week.

“Honouring these promises, of course, would absolutely mean putting the brakes on Site C, not issuing permits to fire up the bulldozers.

“Giving Site C the green light, along with back pedalling on Northern Gateway and a tanker ban on BC’s North Coast, really throws into question Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to the environment and First Nations.”

Earlier this week, the federal departments of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada authorized the Trudeau government’s first set of Site C construction permits for the controversial $8.8-billion hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

“It’s hard to square Mr. Trudeau’s actions and words,” said Cullen, pointing to strong findings from the Site C joint federal-provincial environmental review that the project would cause permanent environmental damage and loss of treaty rights to Treaty 8 First Nations. 

“Allowing Site C hardly falls into line with Mr. Trudeau’s promises to renew a "nation-to-nation" relationship with First Nations,” Cullen said, noting the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations will be in federal court in Montreal in September to fight the impact flooding the Peace River Valley will have on traditional food gathering and other treaty rights.

Cullen said Canadians expect the Liberals to promote sustainable energy projects, a categorization that cannot be applied to Site C. 

“Unfortunately, it seems to be the same game, just different players, in the approach the Trudeau and Harper governments have taken in dealing with the environment and First Nations.

“You can’t blame Canadians for wondering if anything has really changed on these fronts since the October federal election.”

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Contact:            Shelley Browne, 250-877-4140; nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca