Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Crystal Smith, Chief Councillor of the Haisla Nation, poses for a photo in Kitamaat Village, B.C., on Feb. 23, 2020.

Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

A public-relations battle is brewing over liquefied natural gas as a new study from the Conference Board of Canada touts huge economic benefits for elected Indigenous groups in British Columbia.

The report, commissioned and funded by the Canadian LNG Alliance, seeks to counter a series of critiques from environmental groups that slammed LNG and advocated instead for renewable energy in a low-carbon future.

Environmental campaigns deriding LNG have intensified in 2020, contrasting sharply with the industry’s portrayal of LNG as a transition fuel toward helping the planet achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Story continues below advertisement

Titled A Tide of Opportunity, the new report argues that LNG exports will help raise the standard of living for Indigenous people in British Columbia. The study was released on Monday by the Conference Board, an Ottawa-based non-profit think tank.

“LNG projects are generating sustainable economic growth for Indigenous people,” according to the study written by Kiefer Van Mulligen, an economist at the Conference Board. “Expansion of the LNG sector can add to that growth and contribute to the long-term process of reconciliation.”

The First Nations LNG Alliance and the First Nations Major Projects Coalition contributed to the research. Both of those Indigenous organizations support LNG Canada, a project led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC. LNG Canada is constructing an $18-billion LNG export terminal on the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation in Kitimat, B.C.

The goal is to start shipping natural gas in liquid form to Asia in 2025.

Crystal Smith, the Haisla’s elected chief councillor, describes her Indigenous group’s relationship with LNG Canada as positive and transformative, including training and employment of Haisla members.

“This new report confirms what the Haisla Nation already knows, that LNG is a big driver of opportunity for Indigenous communities,” Ms. Smith said in a statement that accompanied the Conference Board’s report. The Haisla’s main reserve, Kitamaat Village, is a 20-kilometre drive south of Kitimat, across Douglas Channel from the LNG Canada site.

Susannah Pierce, LNG Canada’s director of corporate affairs, said the Shell-led project in Kitimat has awarded more than $2-billion in contracts so far to Indigenous and local community businesses.

Story continues below advertisement

“Early in our project planning we recognized the role LNG Canada must play in advancing economic reconciliation, and reconciliation as a whole,” Ms. Pierce said in a statement.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will feed natural gas to the Kitimat terminal. Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. has set aside a 10-per-cent equity stake in its partly owned Coastal GasLink project for sale to 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline route.

Coastal GasLink has reached benefit agreements with all of those 20 councils, including five elected councils within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

But a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who maintain they have jurisdiction and authority over their unceded traditional territory, opposes the $6.6-billion pipeline project that will stretch 670 km from northeast B.C. to Kitimat. About 190 km of the route cross the Wet’suwet’en’s territory.

Despite the signing of agreements between companies and elected Indigenous band councils, the Conference Board said lingering opposition to LNG has complicated roots. “Pipelines pass through many Indigenous territories. Planning requires complex discussions about territorial rights, benefits and impacts,” according to the report.

The report said Coastal GasLink has awarded $870-million in contracts and employment funding to Indigenous and local companies across northern British Columbia. Another example of partnerships between companies and Indigenous groups is a joint venture between Seaspan ULC and the Haisla that secured a $500-million contract to provide tug services for LNG Canada’s shipping.

Story continues below advertisement

“Indigenous peoples are using financial benefits to pursue social goals. This includes preserving language, promoting cultural heritage and protecting the environment,” the report said.

Critics of fossil fuels, however, are lumping LNG in with coal and oil as one of three climate evils.

Geoscientist David Hughes, in a study released in July by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, warned about methane leaks from the production of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

In September, environmental group Stand.earth said LNG isn’t necessarily displacing coal at power plants in Asia, but hampering the growth of renewable energy.

In October, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) criticized the Conference Board’s July report, titled A Rising Tide, which estimated an average of 96,550 direct and indirect jobs annually in Canada if B.C. LNG projects reach their full potential over the next 44 years. “For British Columbians, LNG is not going to deliver in the way that the Conference Board’s breezy narrative suggests,” IEEFA said.

But in its report on Monday, the Conference Board said Indigenous groups believe that LNG must be part of the strategy to fight climate change.

Story continues below advertisement

The report noted that the elected Indigenous leaders of the Haisla, Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and Nisga’a have formed the First Nations Climate Initiative (FNCI) as a B.C.-based think tank.

“The FNCI promotes the role of Indigenous peoples in climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation. The group promotes LNG development as a solution to both problems,” the Conference Board said.

So far, only one new LNG export terminal is under construction in Canada: the LNG Canada project in Kitimat. Prospects in the future include Woodfibre LNG’s project near Squamish, located 65 km north of Vancouver.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies