Solidarity with Treaty 8 Caravan to Stop the Site C Dam!

Statement by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

The struggle to save the environment is a critical element of the global movement to achieve a better world, and the Communist Party of Canada stands together with all who resist deadly corporate exploitation and plunder of the earth. Today, we express our full solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of the Peace River, as they campaign to halt the Site C dam project in northern British Columbia. On Sept. 6, elders, youth, Treaty 8 members and allies began a historic caravan journey to Montreal, where the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are appealing a federal judge’s decision to approve the construction of Site C, which violates their constitutionally-protected Treaty and Aboriginal rights.

The Communist Party has repeatedly urged Premier Christy Clark’s provincial government and BC Hydro to cancel the Site C dam, to cease all preparatory work for this destructive project pending the outcome of the legal case, and to drop legal proceedings and threats against those who use their democratic rights to express opposition to Site C.

Both the federal and provincial governments have completely failed in their responsibility to uphold the terms of Treaty 8, which promised the signatory First Nations across a vast area of Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories that they would be able to continue their traditional practices of hunting, trapping, fishing, and collecting medicinal plants “for as long as the sun shines, the rivers flow and the grass grows.”

The Canadian state is obligated by treaties, court rulings, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations regarding economic developments on their traditional territories. The days when governments and corporations could simply ignore the rights of indigenous peoples are gone forever. In our view, the lack of any serious consultations with Treaty 8 First Nations means that the Site-C project is completely illegal.

There are many other reasons to oppose this dam, which will flood some of the best agricultural lands in northern British Columbia, and deal a devastating blow to wildlife in the area. The provincial government and BC Hydro claim that the dam must be built to generate electricity for economic development or export, but this argument is utterly false. Rather than spending over $8 billion to destroy a large part of the Peace River valley, B.C. Hydro and the province could invest in less costly conservation measures. The real aim of this project is to provide electrical power to expand fracking on a massive scale, and to make British Columbia even more dependent on extraction and export of hydrocarbons and other unprocessed raw materials.

This strategy is based on speculation that energy prices may rebound in the near future, and on unfounded claims that huge tax breaks and low-cost electricity will lure big energy transnationals to make multi-billion dollar investments in British Columbia. These plans would mean a major expansion of carbon emissions, the key factor in global warming and climate change. Rather than create jobs and economic well-being for working people, as the Premier claims, this strategy is a potentially disastrous gamble of billions of taxpayer dollars, simply to help the big energy corporations rake in super-profits.

This fatally flawed project must be blocked now by the united actions of Indigenous peoples, environmentalists, land defenders, and the labour movement, and by the power of public opinion and the courts. The Communist Party joins with all those who oppose Site C in sending our warmest greetings to the Treaty 8 Caravan participants. Yours is a courageous stand for the future of our country and our planet, and we will continue to do everything we can to help build broad public support for your struggle.

 



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