Metis denied voice at upgrader hearing
Posted by mhudema on June 23, 2008
FORT SASKATCHEWAN – More than 100 residents and activists attended the first day of hearings on a proposed Petro-Canada upgrader plant northeast of Edmonton.
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board is analyzing whether to give the go-ahead to Petro-Canada’s Fort Hill Oilsands Project, an upgrader that would be built in the area dubbed Upgrader Alley.
The first order of business today was to hear from to hear an application on behalf of the Metis Nation of Alberta.
They claimed they hadn’t been properly consulted prior to the hearing and requested to be given full intervenor status in the proceedings. Their motion was based on their Metis status and constitutional rights, separate from their rights as landowners.
After considering the application the board rejected their request for intervenor status. The MNA can now be involved only as discretionary participants. They will be allowed to give a presentation of a summary of their evidence and concerns after Petro-Canada representatives have spoken. The MNA will get no funding or extra time and the presentation cannot touch on any constitutional issues.
“We wanted to be consulted on what impacts this would have on the Metis people of this area,” said Cecil Bellrose, regional president of the MNA.
He said he wanted to be able to put forth the Metis Nation’s concerns regarding land and water use, and hunting and fishing.
“I’m disappointed I guess. It was argued here today that we don’t have constitutionally protected rights, but that’s not true,” Bellrose said.
The ERCB hearing on the Petro-Canada plant is scheduled to go until Friday July 4.
Neil Camarta, Petro-Canada’s senior vice-president in charge of oilsands, said his company will be ready to begin construction by the fall if the hearing goes its way.