David Emerson, the Minister of International Trade says that the Government is committed to moving ahead and trying to resolve the current impasse with local First Nations over the Port of Prince Rupert’s Containerization project.
Emerson said that his fellow cabinet ministers were aware of the concerns regarding the project and that we should all expect to hear something in the next few days.
The full story can be found on the front page of Monday’s Daily News.
EXPECT PORT PROGRESS ‘IN NEXT FEW DAYS’: MINISTER
David Emerson says members of federal cabinet are working on a resolution
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, May 7, 2007
Pages one and three
Canada’s Minister of International Trade said federal cabinet ministers are aware of the concerns of the Coast Tsimshian and don’t want to see a confrontation develop around the Fairview Container Terminal.
Speaking from Vancouver on Friday, David Emerson said government is “committed to moving ahead and trying to resolve that,” and said the federal government expects to make a move within the next few days.
“It would be tragic if we got into an ugly confrontational situation because historically, if there has been one factor that has hurt the Gateway, it has been the perception in international markets that we were not reliable – labour stoppages and other stoppages could put at risk the smooth movement of shipments that have to be preserved in having a successful gateway,” said Emerson.
“I think everyone recognizes it would hurt everyone – that would hurt Prince Rupert, that would hurt aboriginal communities, that it would hurt Canada and we are all seized of the need to not allow that to happen,”
The Coast Tsimshian expressed their concerns last week that the federal government had continually failed to consult and accommodate their aboriginal title in regards to the development of the Fairview Container Terminal.
An offer of $7.5 million had been made, of which about two thirds was supposed to apply to the Coast Tsimshian.
Despite having taken the issue before the Federal Court of Canada, the two bands – Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla – sought the support of other Coastal First Nations and are developing plans not to allow Phase One to commence operation unless their concerns are addressed.
When asked specifically if a process was in place to address the concerns, Emerson, said: “I’ve been talking with my cabinet colleagues and you should expect to hear something in the next few days.”
“I met a couple of months ago with some of the chiefs and I have certainly spoken to the various stakeholders, Transport Canada and the Port Authority and elsewhere. I have also discussed this with Minister (of Transportation Lawrence) Cannon and Minister (of Indian Affairs Jim) Prentice,’ said Emerson. “We are seized of the urgency of setting up a process that works effectively. Canada recognizes that the aboriginal communities have to be a part of this opportunity going forward. It’s a question of working through the appropriate mechanisms and agreements that are necessary. The province will have to be a large part of that. We are committed to moving ahead and trying to resolve that.”
Emerson was in Vancouver along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper talking about the Asia-Pacific Gateway and a further investment of $410 million in the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, a mass infrastructure undertaking that will enhance Canada’s access to Asian markets.
This brings the total federal commitment to more than a billion dollars.
“At the dawn of the 21st century, no country in the world is better positioned than Canada to prosper in the emerging global economy, and the Gateway Initiative is obviously critical to realizing our potential,” said Harper.
“We recognize the strategic importance of Prince Rupert and the Northwest corridor that really extends down to Chicago and we are committed to ensuring it is able to grow and it has to grow if Canada is going to become the successful Gateway we believe it has the potential to become,” said Emerson.
“So Phase One, Phase To, Phase Six it that’s what the economics dictates. I can assure you Canada is committed to the strategy and the success of our strategy.”