An editorial published today by the president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada says that the media concentrating on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Beijing has it wrong, the key to the relationship between Canada and China is in Kitimat, not Beijing.
In the editorial, President’s View, Future of Canada-Asia Energy Relations in Kitimat , foundation president Yuen Pau Woo reflects on a recent visit to Kitimat where he met representatives of the First Nations, industry, and municipality.
Woo says: “Kitimat’s livelihood depends on trade with Asia and the community knows it.”
The editorial lists such projects as the Kitimat modernization porject at the Rio Tinto Alcan, KMLNG’s Kitimat LNG project, other proposed LNG projects, “sharply increased vessel traffic through the Douglas Channel” and, of course, the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipline.
Woo’s key paragraph reads:
The future of Canada-Asia energy relations is not about Beijing; it is about Kitimat. It is in this remote coastal community that the confluence of Asia’s growing economic clout, Canada’s abundance of natural resources, the livelihoods and economic aspirations of First Nations, the challenge of supporting rural communities, and the pristine environment of the Canadian wilderness have created conditions that demand new forms of partnership for a sustainable future.
Woo says that “the Alcan Modernization Project and the Kitimat LNG Plant are excellent examples of community and First Nations consultation and collaboration that have so far yielded positive results,” without mentioning how long it took to come to those agreements; the decades of problems outlined by Haisla leaders before the Joint Review Panel, and that the current agreements are just the start to redress those problems.
On Northern Gateway, Woo concludes:
The challenges facing the Northern Gateway Pipeline project are of a different order of magnitude, but even on this most contentious of projects, I would not underestimate the capacity of stakeholders to find a uniquely Canadian solution that is based on mutual benefit, compromise, and the long-term good